Definition and background:
(1) a voice composed against the tenor. During the fourteenth century, the contratenor was in the style of the tenor, often slower than the upper voices. During the fifteenth century, composers began distinguishing between the high contratenor (the "contratenor altus," later known as the "altus") and the low contratenor (the "contratenor bassus" or "bassus"). The contratenor of either era often had wide leaps and might cross the tenor part. (2) a specially-trained male voice which sings in what are now considered women's vocal ranges (soprano or alto). originally the third voice part, added to the cantus/discantus pairing
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary