Meane (sometimes spelled mean) is a vocal music term used by English composers of polyphonic choral music during the English pre-Reformation and Reformation eras.[1] At this time choral music written for the Church of England was often voiced in 5 parts, with MAATB (Meane, Alto, Alto, Tenor, Bass) or TrMATB (Treble, Meane, Alto, Tenor, Bass) being frequent voicings utilized by William Byrd, Thomas Tallis and their contemporaries. The meane part was typically sung by boys whose voices were not as high as a treble or boy soprano but were not as low as a countertenor.[2] Occasionally the meane line would be sung by a combination of treble and countertenor voices.[3]


  1. "Eton Choirbook". Journal of the Plainsong & Mediaeval Music Society. 2: 52. 1981.
  2. Peter Le Huray (1967). Music and the Reformation in England 1549-1660. pp. 121–122.
  3. Peter Giles (1994). The History and Technique of the Counter-Tenor: a study of the male high voice family. Ashgate: Scolar Press. pp. 34–36.
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