If you’re interested in music, you may have come across the term “alto” at some point. But what does it mean? Essentially, “alto” can refer to a few different things depending on context.
What is an Alto Voice?
In music, the term “alto” often refers to a specific range of notes that fall between a soprano voice and a tenor voice. This range is typically associated with female singers, although male countertenors can also hit these notes. In a choir, the alto part is the lower of the two female voice parts, second only to the tenor.
What About Alto Instruments?
The confusion between “high” and “low” persists when it comes to instruments. For example, the alto recorder is lower than the soprano and tenor recorders, despite being called “alto.” Meanwhile, the alto trombone is higher than the tenor trombone. The term “alto” is often used to describe instruments that play in the same range as the alto voice.
Is Alto Always a Woman?
While the term “alto” was originally used to describe a high male voice, these days it is more commonly associated with women singers. An alto is a woman with a relatively low singing voice, deeper than a soprano. However, men with high singing voices can also be referred to as altos.
Summing Up: What is Alto?
Alto can refer to a few different things in music, including a specific vocal range associated with female or countertenor voices, as well as certain instruments that play in a similar range. While the term is often used to refer to women’s singing voices, it can also apply to men with high voices.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between an alto and a mezzo-soprano?
These two terms are often used interchangeably, but technically, mezzo-sopranos sing slightly higher than altos. However, the distinction between these two voice types is not always clear, and many singers can perform in either range.
What is a male alto?
A male alto is a man who sings in the same range as a female alto, using a specialized vocal technique called countertenor. These singers produce sound using their falsetto range, which allows them to hit higher notes than would be possible in their normal speaking or singing voice.
Explore the World of Music
Whether you’re an experienced musician or just starting out, there is so much to learn and explore in the world of music. Keep listening, playing, and experimenting to discover all the incredible sounds the world has to offer.