Alt |
Music Terms

Alt |

Dictionary categories
terms and concepts, opera, vocals, singing, musical instruments

Alto (German Alt, Italian alto, from Latin altus – high).

1) The second highest voice in four-part music. In this sense, the term “A.” has been used since the 15th century. Previously, in a three-voice presentation, the voice that sounded above, and sometimes below the tenor, was called the countertenor. With the transition to 4-voice, they began to distinguish between countertenor alto and countertenor bass, later called simply alto and bass. In early four-part compositions a cappella (late 15th century), the viola part was performed by men. In three-part choir. scores and in later eras (16-17 centuries), the alto part was sometimes entrusted to tenors.

2) Part in the choir or wok. ensemble, performed by low children’s or low female voices (mezzo-soprano, contralto). From the end of the 18th century in opera choirs. scores in Italy, and later in France (Grand Opera, Opera Lyric), the part of the low wives. voices are called mezzo-soprano, or middle soprano. Since that time, parties in homogeneous wives. choirs began to bear the name. female voices: soprano, mezzo-soprano, contralto. In wok.-symp. compositions (with the exception of Berlioz’s Requiem, Rossini’s Stabat mater, etc.) and in a cappella choirs, the old name, viola, has been preserved.

3) In the countries of it. language name contralto.

4) Low children’s voices. At first, the voices of the boys who sang the part of A. in the choir were called so, later – any low children’s singing voice (both boys and girls), its range – (g) a – es2 (e2).

5) Bowed instrument (Italian viola, French alto, German Bratsche) of the violin family, which occupies an intermediate position between the violin and the cello. By the size of several larger than a violin (body length ca. 410 mm; ancient craftsmen made violas up to 460-470 mm long; in 19 B. smaller violins became widespread – 380-390 mm long; in contrast to the enthusiasm for them by G. Ritter and later L. Tertis developed larger models, still not reaching the size of the classic A.). Build A. a fifth below the violin (c, g, d1, a1); A.’s part is ioted in the alto and treble clefs. It is believed that the violin is the earliest instrument of the violin group (appeared in the late 15th and early 16th centuries). The sound of A. differs from the violin one in its density, contralto tone in the lower register and a somewhat nasal “oboe” timbre in the upper one. Perform on A. fast technical. the passages are more difficult than on the violin. A. is used in kam. instr. ensembles (invariably part of the bow quartet), symphony. orchestras, less often as a solo conc. tool. Conc. plays for A. began to appear as early as the 18th century. (conc. symphony for violin and viola with orchestra by W. A. ​​Mozart, concertos by J. Stamitz of the brothers K. and A. Stamitz, G. F. Telemann, J. S. Bach, J. K. F. Bach, M Haydn, A. Rolls, variations for violin and viola by I. E. Khandoshkin and others). Sonata for A. wrote M. I. Glinka. In the 20th century concertos and sonatas for A. were created by B. Bartok, P. Hindemith, W. Walton, S. Forsythe, A. Bax, A. Bliss, D. Milhaud, A. Honegger, B. N. Kryukov, B. I. Zeidman , R. S. Bunin and others; there are conc. plays for A. and in other genres. Outstanding violists: K. Uran (France), O. Nedbal (Czech Republic), P. Hindemith (Germany), L. Tertis (England), W. Primrose (USA), V. R. Bakaleinikov (Russia), V. V. Borisovsky (USSR). Some of the most prominent violinists sometimes acted as violists – N. Paganini, from owls. violinists – D. F. Oistrakh.

6) Alto varieties of some orcs. wind instruments – flugelhorns (A., or altohorn) and saxhorns, clarinet (basset horn), oboe (alto oboe, or English horn), trombone (alto trombone).

7) Alto variety of domra.

References: Struve B. A., The process of formation of viols and violins, M., 1959; Grinberg M. M., Russian viola literature, M., 1967; Straeten E. van der, The viola, “The Strad”, XXIII, 1912; Clarke R., The history of the viola in Quartet writing, “ML”, IV, 1923, No 1; Altmann W., Borislowsky W., Literaturverzeichnis für Bratsche und Viola d’amore, Wolfenbüttel, 1937; Thors B. and Shore B., The viola, L., 1946; Zeyringer Fr., Literatur für Viola, Kassel, 1963, Ergänzungsband, 1965, Kassel, 1966.

I. G. Litsvenko, L. Ya. Raaben

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