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Sopranos with a singer’s formant? Historical, Physiological, and Acoustical Aspects of Castrato Singing
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH, Music Acoustics.
2007 (English)In: Speech, Music and Hearing Quarterly Progress and Status Report (QPSR), Vol. 49, 1-6 p.Article in journal (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]

Starting in the sixteenth century castrato singing was a wide spread phenomenon, mainly cultivated in the Italian opera tradition for more than 250 years. Prepubertal castration is likely to imply that a boyish larynx is combined with an enlarged thorax and with a vocal tract of dimensions likely to approach or match those of an adult male. Current interest in Baroque opera and in the history of musical performance raises the question as to the characteristics of the castrato singers vocal art.In the present study we attempt to combine the information embedded in historical sources, and the knowledge of the development of the human vocal organs, the aim being to explore hypotheses regarding the acoustical properties. Our basic assumption is that the castrato voice combined the male adult vocal tract with the prepubertal voice source. A well trained boy soprano’s rendering of Franz Schubert’s Ave Maria on the vowel /a/ was inverse filtered and the voice source thus obtained was processed by a vocal tract filter with formant frequencies adjusted in such a way that a singer’s formant with a centre frequency corresponding to an operatic tenor, baritone and bass voice was obtained. The syntheses can be listened to at

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 49, 1-6 p.
National Category
Computer Science Language Technology (Computational Linguistics)
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-51947OAI: diva2:465241
tmh_import_11_12_14. QC 20120110Available from: 2011-12-14 Created: 2011-12-14 Last updated: 2012-01-10Bibliographically approved

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