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Putting the Singing Voice on the Map: Towards Improving the Quantitative Evaluation of Voice Status in Professional Female Singers
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH, Music Acoustics. (Music Acoustics)
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Diagnostic and evaluative methods used in voice care are mostly designedfor the speaking voice, and are not necessarily directly applicable to thesinging voice. This thesis investigated the possibilities of fine tuning, improvingand quantifying the voice status assessment of the singer, focusingespecially on the Western operatic female voice.

In Paper I, possible singer-specific Voice Range Profile (VRP) characteristicsand tasks were explored and VRP data for 30 professional female Western opera singers was collected. Vocal productions were controlled for a physiological VRP (VRPphys) and for a stage performance context (VRPperf) and outcome differences were identified. Task design was critical for the(VRPphys) but had very little effect on the VRPperf. Significant voice category differences (between soprano,mezzo-soprano and contralto) were limited to frequencyrelated metrics. Two new VRP metrics, the area above 90 dB (Perc90dB) and the sound pressure level extent (SPLext), were found to be key metrics to the study of VRPs for singers. Paper II investigated, in conjunction with the VRP, whether the sound pressure level (SPL) or the skin acceleration level (SAL) was more correlated to the subglottal pressure (Ps). SAL was much less F0 dependent than SPL and facilitated the interpretation of VRP data. However, the correlation between SAL and Ps was found to be weaker than that between SPL and Ps. Papers III and IV explored the mapping of self-perceived impairmentrelated difficulties into the VRP. A modified phonetograph was tested first with a healthy singer population and then with a singer-patient group. Subjects used a button device to communicate their self-perceptions while singing, and were consistent in task replications as well as across different tasks. Healthy singers pressed mostly at the extreme limits of the VRP, where loss of vocal control could be expected and their presses were mostly concentrated on the periphery of the VRP area. Singer patient button- press patterns were distinct from patterns observed in healthy singers. Singer patients pressed mainly inside the VRP boundaries, in the higher range and at intermediate intensities. In Paper V, the Voice Handicap Index for singers was translated and adapted to Swedish (Röst Handikap Index för sångare or RHI-s). The questionnaire was found to be a reliable and a valid instrument. High correlations between general perceptual patient VAS ratings and the questionnaire scores underscored the instrument’s internal coherence. Overall, patient scores (including subscales) were significantly higher than healthy singer scores. The results showed implicitly the necessity and usefulness of adapting clinical procedures to specific patient populations.Together, the results of these five papers can ultimately be of value tovoice clinicians who are treating singers. The results obtained also contributeto the understanding of the singing voice and underline the importance ofproperly documenting the singing voice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH , 2009. , 109 p.
Series
Trita-CSC-A, ISSN 1653-5723 ; 2009:03
Keyword [en]
Voice Range Profile-Phonetogram-Singing voice-Performance-Clinical assessment-health-voice disorder-self-perception-proprioceptive feedback
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-9976ISBN: 978-91-7415-218-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-9976DiVA: diva2:173670
Public defence
2009-03-06, F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, KTH-Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20100726Available from: 2009-02-19 Created: 2009-02-17 Last updated: 2010-07-26Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. The Singer’s Voice Range Profile: Female Professional Opera Soloists
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Singer’s Voice Range Profile: Female Professional Opera Soloists
2010 (English)In: Journal of Voice, ISSN 0892-1997, E-ISSN 1557-8658, Vol. 24, no 4, 410-426 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This work concerns the collection of 30 Voice Range Profiles (VRPs) of female operatic voice . Objectives: We address the questions: Is there a need for a singer’s protocol in VRP aquisition? Are physiological measurements sufficient or should the measurement of performance capabilities also be included? Can we address the female singing voice in general or is there a case for categorizing voices when studying phonetographic data? Method: Subjects performed a series of structured tasks involving both standard speech voice protocols and additional singing tasks. Singers also completed an extensive questionnaire. Results: Physiological VRPs differ from performance VRPs. Two new VRP metrics: the voice area above a defined level threshold, and the dynamic range independent from F0, were found to be useful in the analysis of singer VRP’s. Task design had no effect on performance VRP outcomes. Voice category differences were mainly attributable to phonation frequency based information. Conclusion: Results support the clinical importance of addressing the vocal instrument as it is used in performance. Equally important is the elaboration of a protocol suitable for the singing voice. The given context and instructions can be more important than task design for performance VRPs. Yet, for physiological VRP recordings, task design remains critical. Both types of VRPs are suggested for a singer’s voice evaluation.

Keyword
Voice Range Profile, singers, opera, performance, physiological profile, Speech Range Profile
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-9946 (URN)10.1016/j.jvoice.2008.12.008 (DOI)000279683500005 ()2-s2.0-77954088355 (Scopus ID)
Note
Uppdaterad från manuskript till artikel: 20100726 QC 20100726Available from: 2009-02-18 Created: 2009-02-13 Last updated: 2011-02-04Bibliographically approved
2. An Exploration of Skin Acceleration Level as a Measureof Phonatory Function in Singing
Open this publication in new window or tab >>An Exploration of Skin Acceleration Level as a Measureof Phonatory Function in Singing
2008 (English)In: Journal of Voice, ISSN 0892-1997, E-ISSN 1557-8658, Vol. 22, no 1, 10-22 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Summary: Two kinds of fluctuations are observed in phonetogram recordingsof singing. Sound pressure level (SPL) can vary due to vibrato and also due tothe effect of open and closed vowels. Since vowel variation is mostly a consequence of vocal tract modification and is not directly related to phonatory function, it could be helpful to suppress such variation when studying phonation. Skin acceleration level (SAL), measured at the jugular notch and on the sternum, might be less influenced by effects of the vocal tract. It is explored in this study as an alternative measure to SPL. Five female singers sang vowel series on selected pitches and in different tasks. Recorded data were used to investigate two null hypotheses: (1) SPL and SAL are equally influenced by vowel variation and (2) SPL and SAL are equally correlated to subglottal pressure (PS). Interestingly, the vowel variation effect was small in both SPL and SAL. Furthermore, in comparison to SPL, SAL correlated weakly to PS. SAL exhibited practically no dependence on fundamental frequency, rather, its major determinant was the musical dynamic. This results in a non-sloping, square-like phonetogram contour. These outcomes show that SAL potentially can facilitate phonetographic analysis of the singing voice.

Keyword
Across tone fluctuations; Differences between singing and speech; Phonetogram; Singing voice; Skin acceleration level; Vocal function; Vowel variation
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-9949 (URN)10.1016/j.jvoice.2006.08.005 (DOI)000252290400002 ()17059878 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-37349110982 (Scopus ID)
Note
QC 20100726Available from: 2009-02-18 Created: 2009-02-13 Last updated: 2011-11-07Bibliographically approved
3. Not just sound: Supplementing the voice range profile with the singer's ownperceptions of vocal challenges
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Not just sound: Supplementing the voice range profile with the singer's ownperceptions of vocal challenges
2009 (English)In: Logopedics, Phoniatrics, Vocology, ISSN 1401-5439, Vol. 34, no 1, 3-10 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A commercial phonetograph was complemented with a response button, such that presses resulted in marked regions in the voice range profile (VRP). This study reports the VRP data of 16 healthy female professionally trained singers (7 mezzosopranos and 9 sopranos). Subjects pressed the button to indicate sensations of vocal instability or reduced control during phonation. Each press thereby marked potential areas of difficulty. A method is presented to quantify the consistency of button use for repeated tasks. The pattern of button presses was significantly consistent within subjects. As expected, the singers pressed at the extremes of VRP contours as well as at register transitions. These results and the potential of the method for the assessment of vocal problems of singers are discussed.

Keyword
Evaluation tool, self-perception, singing voice, voice assessment, Voice Handicap Index, phonetogram, Voice Range Profile
National Category
Medical Laboratory and Measurements Technologies Performing Arts
Research subject
Speech and Music Communication
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-9950 (URN)10.1080/14015430802239759 (DOI)000264138400002 ()18720214 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-66549109595 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20150623

Available from: 2009-02-18 Created: 2009-02-13 Last updated: 2015-06-23Bibliographically approved
4. Not Just Sound II: an Investigation of Singer patient Self-Perceptions Mapped into the Voice Range Profile
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Not Just Sound II: an Investigation of Singer patient Self-Perceptions Mapped into the Voice Range Profile
2008 (English)In: Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, ISSN 1092-4388, E-ISSN 1558-9102Article in journal (Other academic) Submitted
Abstract [en]

Purpose:  In aiming at higher specificity in clinical evaluations of the singing voice, singer perceptions were included and tested in conjunction with the voice range profile. Method:  The use of a commercial phonetograph supplemented by a hand-held response button was clinically tested with 13 subjects presenting voice complaints. Singer patients were asked to press a button to indicate sensations of vocal discomfort or instability during phonation. Each press was registered at the actual position in the Voice Range Profile (VRP) so as to mark areas of difficulty. Consistency of button press behavior was assessed with a method developed previously. Results:  In spite of their voice complaints, subjects did not press the button as much as healthy singers. Like healthy singers, the singer-patient group demonstrated consistent behavior but tended to press the button in completely different areas of the VRP space. The location of the presses was dominantly in the interior of the VRP and concentrated to a small fundamental frequency range.  An extensive discussion examines carefully the reasons for such outcomes. Conclusion:  The button augmented VRP could be a well needed resource for clinicians but requires further development and work.

Keyword
singer patient, Voice Range Profile, self-perception, proprioceptive feedback, vocal discomfort
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-9947 (URN)
Note
QS 20120314Available from: 2009-02-18 Created: 2009-02-13 Last updated: 2012-03-14Bibliographically approved
5. The Swedish version of the Voice Handicap Index adapted for Singers
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Swedish version of the Voice Handicap Index adapted for Singers
2010 (English)In: Logopedics, Phoniatrics, Vocology, ISSN 1401-5439, Vol. 35, no 3, 129-137 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objective: The recent Belgian adaptation for singers of the Voice Handicap Index (VHI) was translated and readapted in Swedish. This study’s aim was to evaluate the validity and reliability of a Swedish version. Method: In a parallel group design, 96 healthy singers and 30 singer patients with various diagnoses completed a Swedish version of the singer adapted VHI. A prospective evaluation of the Swedish voice health status instrument was carried out. In average, delays between test-retest were between 14 to 16 days. Validity and reliability as well as the internal coherence and group differences were assessed. Results: The singer-patient group scored significantly higher than the control group. Reliability was confirmed by high Cronbach’s alpha (>.78) for test-retest scores as well as each subscales. In particular, test-retest stability in both groups was confirmed by high values for Cronbach’s alpha (>.8). For both the control and patient groups, test and retest scores compared closely to previously reports with respect to overall scores. Retest results were slightly lower than initial test scores. Conclusions: The Swedish translation of the adapted VHI for singers (RHI-s) is valid and reliable and shows sensitivity to the singer's concerns. It can be considered a useful tool in the clinical assessment of Swedish healthy or pathological singers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2010
Keyword
Voice Handicap Index, singers, validity, reliability, Swedish, voice disorders, singing levels, singing genre, self-perception
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-9948 (URN)10.3109/14015430903352592 (DOI)000284268900004 ()2-s2.0-77956934200 (Scopus ID)
Note
QC 20100726Available from: 2009-02-18 Created: 2009-02-13 Last updated: 2010-12-22Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
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  • harvard1
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  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
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  • Other locale
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Output format
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