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 male altos. In English church usage, the term alto is sometimes exclusively used to mean a boy with this range, while contralto is used 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).
The word alto is often applied to instruments to indicate their range in relation to other instruments of the same group. In common usage, particularly among jazz musicians, the word has become synonymous with the alto saxophone.
Some well known contraltos include:soprano, tenor, baritone, bass\n