/al"toh/, n., pl. altos, adj. Music.n.1. the lowest female voice; contralto.2. the highest male voice; countertenor.3. a singer with such a voice.4. a musical part for such a voice.5. the second highest of the four parts of a mixed vocal chorus, or the voices or persons singing this part.6. the second highest instrument in a family of musical instruments, as the viola in the violin family or the althorn in the cornet family.adj.7. of, pertaining to, or having the tonal range of the alto.8. (of a musical instrument) second highest in a family of musical instruments: alto saxophone.[1775-85; < It < L altus high]
* * *or contraltoVoice or register that extends approximately from the F below middle C to the second D above it.The second-highest part in four-part music, it is normally sung by women. The name derives from contratenor altus, the part above the tenor part. It is used for some instruments that play principally in the alto range (alto saxophone, alto flute, etc.). See also countertenor.
* * *▪ vocal range(Italian: “high”), in vocal music the register approximately between the F below middle C to the second D above—the second highest part in four-part music. The word alto originally referred to the highest male voice, singing falsetto (see countertenor).Alto derives from the term contratenor altus, which in Renaissance music referred to the part immediately above the tenor part. Female alto voices are often called contralto. The term alto is also used for musical instruments having a more or less comparable range—e.g., alto saxophone, alto clarinet, alto flute. The meaning of alto in French is “tenor violin” or “tenor saxhorn”—a pitfall for translators; contralte in French means the English “alto.”
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