Alto



the lowest female voice; contralto.
the highest male voice; countertenor.
a singer with such a voice.
a musical part for such a voice.
the second highest of the four parts of a mixed vocal chorus, or the voices or persons singing this part.
the second highest instrument in a family of musical instruments, as the viola in the violin family or the althorn in the cornet family.
of, relating to, or having the tonal range of the alto.
(of a musical instrument) second highest in a family of musical instruments:
alto saxophone.
variant of :
altostratus.
Contemporary Examples

He previously served as executive chef of Fiamma Osteria, Convivio, and alto.
Fresh Picks Michael White March 17, 2011

But how can I say that when the protagonist is a talking bear who plays the alto sax?
What are the Best Novels on Music? Ted Gioia October 18, 2013

Historical Examples

While the first voice is singing the first half, the second voice sings the second half as the alto part of the first half.
How Music Developed W. J. Henderson

But there was one spot thrown into alto relievo by the sombre drapery of woe.
The Story of My Life Egerton Ryerson

Primarily (besides the bass clef), in Italy and Germany, only the tenor clef was used, and the alto clef in France.
The Violoncello and Its History Wilhelm Joseph von Wasielewski

Drusilla Osborn was first, then Lettie Burley, an alto, came next.
Blue Ridge Country Jean Thomas

The soprano was incessantly quarrelling with her colleagues, and the alto was an intriguing vixen quite without talent.
The Goose Man Jacob Wassermann

I will alto make it a possession for the bittern, and pools for water.
Bible Animals; J. G. Wood

The basso sculpture of the Altar would, also, indicate an earlier erection than the surrounding “Idols,” which are in alto.
The History of Ancient America, Anterior to the Time of Columbus George Jones

Charlie took tenor, and Sybil treble, and I alto, and the sexton bass.
Dodo, Volumes 1 and 2 Edward Frederic Benson

noun (pl) -tos
the highest adult male voice; countertenor
(in choral singing) a shortened form of contralto
a singer with such a voice
another name for viola1 (sense 1)
a flute, saxophone, etc, that is the third or fourth highest instrument in its group
adjective
denoting a flute, saxophone, etc, that is the third or fourth highest instrument in its group
combining form
high: altocumulus, altostratus
n.

1784, “man with an alto voice,” from Italian alto (canto), from Latin altus “high” (see old). Originally a “high” man’s voice, now more commonly applied to the lower range of women’s voices (which is more strictly the contralto), an extension first recorded in 1881.

The alto in a man is totally distinct from the contralto in a woman. The tone is utterly different — the best notes of the one are certainly not the best notes of the other; and although in certain cases a contralto may sing with good effect music written for a male alto (e.g. in some oratorios), yet the converse is scarcely ever true. [“How to Sing,” 1890]

As a type of saxophone, from 1869.

The lowest range of the female singing voice, also called contralto. (Compare mezzo soprano and soprano.)

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  • Alto clef

    a sign locating middle C on the third line of the staff. Historical Examples Primarily (besides the bass clef), in Italy and Germany, only the tenor clef was used, and the alto clef in France. The Violoncello and Its History Wilhelm Joseph von Wasielewski noun the clef that establishes middle C as being on the […]

  • Altocumulus

    a cloud of a class characterized by globular masses or rolls in layers or patches, the individual elements being larger and darker than those of cirrocumulus and smaller than those of stratocumulus: of medium altitude, about 8000–20,000 feet (2450–6100 meters). noun (pl) -li (-laɪ) a globular cloud at an intermediate height of about 2400 to […]



  • Alto flute

    a large flute pitched a perfect fourth lower than an ordinary flute.

  • Alto horn

    . a valved brass musical instrument, varying in shape, that is the alto member of the cornet family. noun another term for althorn noun a valved brass musical instrument belonging to the saxhorn or flügelhorn families



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