In music, an alto or contralto is a singer with a vocal range somewhere between a tenor and a mezzo-soprano. The term is used incorrectly to refer to the deepest female singing voice, while in actuality it defines one of the highest male voices.

A typical alto will have a range from around the F below middle C to the E a tenth above middle C (i.e. F3-E5); at the bottom of their range. Given poor recording quality, altos can sound almost like tenors. Some altos have even larger ranges; from the C below middle C to the C two octaves above (C3-C6 if middle C is C4). In four part (SATB) choral harmony, the alto is the second highest voice. Altos originally sang from music written in the alto clef, but now use the treble clef.

Although both men and women may have voices in the alto range, the word is usually used to mean a female singer.

However, choirs singing early music frequently include adult male altos, also called countertenors. In English church usage, the term alto is sometimes exclusively used to mean a boy with this range, while contralto is used correctly for a female singer. However, this is not done consistently, and for most practical purposes, alto and contralto can be thought of as synonyms (the phrase "boy alto" can be used if there is a chance of misunderstanding). A few popular music enthusiasts define the contralto and alto separately, as the contralto having an especially dark range and timbre, from the D above low C to Tenor C, which is essentially a female of a tenor range, while alto is a voice with a range from F below middle C to the F an eleventh above middle C, and is closer to the mezzo-soprano. The majority however define contralto and alto as synonyms, and assign the adjectives light and dark, with a dark alto being a female of tenor range, while a light alto, commonly referred to as simply alto, to include mezzo-sopranos as well.

Alfred Deller, the grandfather of modern countertenors, possessed a beautiful lyrical voice in the alto range.
by Chris June 18, 2006
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1) The feeling you get after you smoke a blunt. (synonym: high, blasted, lifted, etc...)

2) A synonym for marijuana, green, weed, etc...

3) (verb) Acting dumb, retarded, or just plain stupid
ex. 1) I got so alto last night after smoking a blunt with ALTO TEAM.

ex. 2) Do you know where I can find some alto?

ex. 3) Mary Jane tripped over her shoe laces; she is soooooo ALTO!!
by B. Alto October 23, 2008
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The lower feminine voicing in choral music. Just below Mezzo-Soprano. It can be divided into two classifications: Alto and Contralto; Contralto being the lower of the two.
The alto section sang a beautiful harmony that complimented the soprano melody.
by E.J. March 29, 2004
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1. The lower women's voices in a choir.
2. The best section of a choir.
If I were going to sing in a choir, I would want to be an ALTO, because ALTOs are the BEST!
by Mel September 29, 2003
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The lower voice part of the female.

Also known as a soprano who can sightread.

How to tell if your an alto:

1)You can sightread.

2)You realize that everyone not in your section is a bimbo, a pompous a**, or that you always have to explain things twice for them.

3)You notice that your part in a piece of music is more elaborate and challenging than the others and you never complain about it, but instead look forward to singing it.
by aveverum September 09, 2008
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