al·to / ˈaltō/ •
n. (pl. -tos) Mus. a voice, instrument, or part below the highest range and above tenor, in particular: ∎ the highest adult male singing voice; countertenor. ∎ the lowest female singing voice; contralto. ∎ [as adj.] denoting the member of a family of instruments pitched second or third highest: alto flute. ∎ an alto instrument, esp. an alto saxophone.
In singing, the highest male voice, also called countertenor
; or the lowest female voice, also called contralto
. It is also used to describe that member of a family of instruments with a range that corresponds to the alto voice; for example, an alto flute
is a fourth lower than a standard one.
Usually high type of falsetto male v., much used in Eng. church mus.; thus in SATB, A stands for alto. 2.
Low-register female v., usually referred to as contralto
Applied to instr., the 2nd or 3rd highest of the family. 4.
highest male voice, counter-tenor. XVII. — It. alto
high — L. altus