Even though an alto is a woman with a relatively low singing voice, the word 'Alto' actually came from describing a man's voice who sings high. You know, back in the day, they were weird about having women perform sometimes, so you would often have boy choirs or all-men choirs where guys took the higher parts. So 'alto', originally describing a man's high voice, is from the Latin root, altus, or 'high'.
As an alto singer, I pride myself on having the best of two worlds when it comes to vocal range. On one hand, I can sing some sweet angelic high notes in my head voice. and on the other, I can give strong, thick, powerful belts in my lower range. Think of singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Adele who are simply unmatched when it comes to singing with intense emotional inflection and rich tone. The alto range is where it's at!
Many will say that the range of an alto is usually from F3 to F5, but I like to think of it closer to F3 to D5, especially when we're talking about belting range in the style of pop or musical theatre. If your range is slightly lower, you may want to label yourself as a contralto, which is sometimes even cooler! I'm always jealous of women who can hit low notes around the C3 range in a tone that really resonates (mine tone is thin down there). If your range is a bit higher, consider yourself a term called mezzo-soprano.
Keep in mind that all of these terms stem from more classical styles of singing, so there's no need to get too hung up on it if you're not a classical singer.
Here are some alto voice examples if you want to get a better idea of the range and vocal timbre that comes with it. Some altos prefer to sing softly and smoothly like Sade, and others can be powerhouses like Adele. While most of them sing beautifully in the mid-range, altos can hit high notes with their head voice quite often.
Related Post: See Best Songs For Altos With Soul
Get more tips on your range and singing by joining the community! Sign up here and get your free digital copy of my book "The Ultimate Music Maker Checklist".
This blog was written by singer, songwriter and producer Yona Marie. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
If you are ever in need of singer, songwriter or song producer services for your music project or brand, see what Yona Marie can offer you on her song services page.