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The Mouse Song

Contralto Stuff


You know how jazz musicians transcribe each other's solos for educational purposes? I decided that this might be a good idea for figuring out how to ornament a da Capo aria, so I took a stab at it. I haven't got it quite right, but I think it was educational. Here's what I came up with (guess the singer!):


Useful Links

A place to stash concert info
The ranges of the songs in the Boosey and Hawkes Contralto Songs Book
Website of Nathalie Stutzmann
This person's website has a list of historical contraltos, with some recordings
An interview with Ewa Podles (pronounced Eva Poh dlesh, I think)
Bio of Kathleen Ferrier
Wiebke Hoogklimmer, Contralto and Opera Director, Several Downloadable Recordings
Homepage of Ysaye Barnwell, the low, low singer in Sweet Honey in the Rock. Also tips on publishing music, etc
The ranges of the movements in Vivaldi's Nisi Dominus (see Nathalie Stutzmann's page for an audio sample)
No kidding, this girl's webpage is called killer alto...and she is one!
The ranges of the songs in the gray Schirmer Operatic Anthology, Volume II for Mezzo Soprano and Alto
The ranges of the mezzo solos in the Verdi Requiem
The ranges of the Schirmer 20th Century Art Songs, Medium Voice, page 1
The ranges of the Schirmer 20th Century Art Songs, Medium Voice, page 2
The contents of the green German Songs book
The contents of the green German Songs book, 2nd page
People speaking the sounds of the International Phonetic Alphabet
List of Opera Characters, showing which voice type sings the role
Diagrams of the throat

It can be a challenge to find contralto repertoire, at least for "classical" singing (I mean classical in the broad sense, including Romantic, Baroque, and whatever). This sort of makes sense: in the old days, there was no such thing as a microphone, so to sing in a large hall, it was useful to be able to sing high. High notes naturally project farther than do low notes, moreover, if you are singing with an orchestra, you'll find that often you are competing with the violas.

Well, I'm up for a challenge, so I'm trying to figure out what's available. As I get it figured out, I'll put it here!

My opinionated opinions about music

Songs I've Done

(in public, singing in the shower doesn't count here!)

From "24 Italian Songs and Arias"



Per la gloria
Alma del core
Sebben crudele
Vergin, tutto amor
O del mio dolce ardor
Pieta Signore (a personal favorite)

Other books



The trees they grow so high
Prepare thyself, Zion (Bach, from Christmas Oratorio)
O rest in the Lord (Mendelssohn, from Elijah)
O thou that tellest (Handel, from Messiah)
Understudy - Why do the nations rage so furiously together (an octave higher)
But who may abide (Handel, from Messiah)
He was despised (Handel, from Messiah)
Return, O God of Hosts (Handel, from Samson)
When I am laid in earth (Purcell, from Dido and Aeneas)
Gretchen am Spinnrade - this one is particulary meaningful to me. My ancestors (on my Dad's side) left Germany in the 1870's because the gov't was having the umpteenth war with France. They were sick of getting killed, raped, etc, in wars with France. I can imagine one of them sitting at her spinning wheel, thinking stuff like this. One of my aunts, Gay Logan, has done a lot of research on Denke family history.
Chacun a son gout (in English, Strauss, from Die Fledermaus)...has an A-flat above treble clef, highest note I've ever sung in public!
Adieu, forets (in French, Tchaikovsky, from Jeanne D'Arc)
Me voici dans son boudoir (in French, Thomas, from Mignon)
Voi, che sapete (Mozart, from Figaro)
Che faro senza Euridice (Gluck, from Orfeo)
Ombra mai fu (Handel, from Serse)
The Ke (Barber)
Der Tod und Das M�dchen - This one has the lowest note I've ever seen in a classical song for alto...a D below middle C! I can sing lower than that (I've sung a low C in public, but with a microphone), but a D is a toughie if you need to project the note. I can produce pitches down to an A-flat most of the time, and down to a bottom line G or sometimes an F, first thing in the morning. But hey, there's a huge difference between producing pitches and singing! The really low stuff is only there first thing in th e morning: if I drink a coffee, the low notes go away! I might have bit off more than I could chew...I think the previous lowest note I'd sung without a mic was maybe F-sharp below middle C. Maybe I should have worked my way down to a D over several semesters!

I think my voice has gotten a little lower than it was when I was in college. I'm 35 now, so I guess that's not unexpected. I feel like I haven't got much control over my lower register, and this is something I'd like to work on.


It always kills me to see what search engines think I mean! Ummm...whatever! I wish Ms. Summers lots of "salary success." (At least it's not like the MS Word spell checker, which invariably thinks my name is "Lice Dense!")

List O' Contraltos - in no particular order - just a place to store this info so I can look up recordings by these gals in my "abundant spare time"