(Yes, it’s true. But the ones who get their first “major” jobs at top universities are rare.)
Even with the recent resurgence of young contralto voice, I think most people would agree that there has been a long-standing shortage of good sound quality to go with it. And if you’re not a professional singer-songwriter—someone who has been singing for years, and has earned a real career in the industry—a contralto voice is not a lot of fun to play in your free time and work environment (unless you’re a guy with a really good voice). So it’s not necessarily a good fit in a lot of situations. But if you are a good songwriter and a good singer, contralto voice can make you seem not just cool, but more attractive, for sure.
The problem with contralto voice is, though, that it takes a lot of volume to come across well. This sounds like something that can be taught in your music lessons—but it’s a bit harder to come by than we might imagine (just ask anyone who teaches a beginner how to sing in the key of a minor key). That’s one reason that contralts have a reputation for being more difficult to learn, if you’re only thinking of learning in the key of Bb.
And the fact that it’s difficult may actually help the contralto more than you might think. It can be a tough voice to work with, when you have a vocal coach or performer working with you, so you’re going to have to invest in a higher-end microphone and to have one with a good gain that won’t just be your main vocal microphone. That’s another reason for the reputation of being difficult to learn: I’d bet you never heard someone with a great contralto voice, with a decent microphone who wasn’t a vocal coach or performer. In fact, the best contralto voices I’ve ever heard are on singers who do have a good vocal coach (and I bet that’s not an exclusive club.) If you want a great contralto voice, then you have to be prepared for it, and to play it with a decent microphone and a good-sounding gain as well.
OK, it’s time now to do my bit. Let’s take apart a contralto voice and see what actually makes it sound like.
First, the thing you’ll need. A microphone with good gain. The best microphones
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