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What do notes mean in singing?
How low can an alto sing?
Review techniques that altos can learn to reach low notes.
Unless you just started singing, you probably have an idea of the types of singing voices or recognize them through modern singers today. Many female singers usually are sopranos whereas male singers generally are baritones.
Altos, on the other hand, are the lowest type of female singing voices in choirs or operas. Since they’re able to reach lower notes, they’re typically in charge of singing the harmony in a song.
But how low can an alto exactly sing? We’ll explore that by going over the foundations of singing, starting with the types of notes in music.
Basics of Singing
What Is a Note in a Song?
In music, a note is a symbol that indicates a musical sound. Musical notes can also represent the duration and pitch of a sound in music. Basically, notes are the building blocks of written music.
Musical notes are very important in singing as they show the parts in the song where you should go higher or lower. In singing lessons, you’re usually taught to warm up your vocal cords by singing scales. Scales are a set of musical notes arranged by frequency or pitch. When you sing scales, you train your voice to reach high or low notes.
Musicians generally use a standard set of notes called the chromatic scale. On the chromatic scale, there are 7 musical notes called A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. Each of them represents a different pitch or frequency.
Now that you know the different notes in music, it’ll be easy for you to identify the notes an alto voice can reach.
How Low Do Altos Sing?
The normal range for most altos is between F3 to F5. Some altos can dip down to as low as D3. Though altos are known for being able to reach low notes, notes as high as E5 or F5 are still within their range.
Some Useful Steps
Singing alto is about hitting low notes with an open and rich tone. The shining feature of the alto voice is the warm resonance that makes it almost sound velvety.
Even if you have a different voice type, you can still train and practice to develop a superb alto voice. Here are a few simple steps to help you begin to learn how to sing alto.
Get a Suitable Music Instrument
For an alto, the best musical instrument is the piano or keyboard. Altos usually sing from the G below middle C to the E a 1/10 above middle C. Play this key on your piano or keyboard to start training your vocal range.
If you don’t have a keyboard or piano, you can download an online MIDI keyboard on your phone, tablet, or laptop.
Do a Vocal Test
Perform a vocal test by following the octave ranging from G3 below middle C to the G5. Play each single note of the octave with the piano. Observe if you’re able to match your voice to the notes in range, and finish all of them comfortably.
Learn to Read Musical Notes
Taking some time to learn reading music notes can help you tremendously in learning to sing alto. Understanding music notes will build up your alto singing abilities.
It might start out hard, but it’ll be worth the struggle as you’ll be able to understand and absorb any style of music easily in the future.
Learn to Lower Your Larynx
Having the skill to lower your larynx would allow you to sing with a high alto voice quality. You’ll have to familiarize yourself with doing this so you know how to hold a good position that supports your air flow and breathing.
Join a Vocal Group
Join a vocal group in a church, community, or school that sings four-part harmony, and try to get the alto singing part if possible. A vocal group not only provides you with opportunities to practice singing alto, but you’d also be able to discuss with others who sing the same notes as you.
Skills and Techniques Altos Can Learn
Sing With a Fuller Tone
If you want to sing alto, you have to enrich the quality of your voice. Many altos usually can cover a low F comfortably and go all the way up to an E. Their voices are able to adjust and cover these bottom notes with vibrant tones.
“Chest voice” is a technique often used to sing alto. It can help you to achieve a fuller and more open tone. When you sing alto, you’re supposed to sing with a great deal of warmth and resonance. As you go higher on the scale, your tone should become lighter.
The most important thing about becoming an alto is having the skill to support those lower notes as they would sound beautiful and audible.
Improve the Lower Parts of Your Voice
You generally can get a good idea if you’re able to sing alto by testing your vocal abilities. Most altos can easily reach an A, F, or G, and sometimes, lower notes too. So if you find it hard to go down to a G or an A, it might be difficult to be able to project those bottom notes.
To sing alto, you have to learn to open up the bottom and sing with the lower parts of your voice. It’s all about hitting those low notes while still sounding melodious.
Alto Singing FAQs
Can Altos Reach High Notes?
Altos usually sing mid-range, but they can also hit high notes with their head voice sometimes, though it really depends on the singer as some altos have a wider range that allows them to reach those high notes better than others.
Are Altos Rare?
Altos are pretty rare since most singers generally are sopranos or mezzo-sopranos. That said, a true alto, the contralto, is probably the rarest voice type out there.
Most altos are able to hit notes as low as F5, while some with an exceptional range can go down to even D3. The low notes altos can hit cannot really be generalized as each of them could have different ranges.
If you’re thinking of learning to sing alto, it’s best not to focus too much on which notes you can hit but on how low you can go with your voice. Singing alto is all about supporting your voice to reach those bottom notes with quality and resonance.