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Lower Vocal Tract Morphologic Adjustments Are Relevant for Voice Timbre in Singing
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2015 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 10, no 7, e0132241Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The vocal tract shape is crucial to voice production. Its lower part seems particularly relevant for voice timbre. This study analyzes the detailed morphology of parts of the epilaryngeal tube and the hypopharynx for the sustained German vowels /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, and /u/ by thirteen male singer subjects who were at the beginning of their academic singing studies. Analysis was based on two different phonatory conditions: a natural, speech-like phonation and a singing phonation, like in classical singing. 3D models of the vocal tract were derived from magnetic resonance imaging and compared with long-term average spectrum analysis of audio recordings from the same subjects. Comparison of singing to the speech-like phonation, which served as reference, showed significant adjustments of the lower vocal tract: an average lowering of the larynx by 8 mm and an increase of the hypopharyngeal cross-sectional area (+21:9%) and volume (+16:8%). Changes in the analyzed epilaryngeal portion of the vocal tract were not significant. Consequently, lower larynx-to-hypopharynx area and volume ratios were found in singing compared to the speech-like phonation. All evaluated measures of the lower vocal tract varied significantly with vowel quality. Acoustically, an increase of high frequency energy in singing correlated with a wider hypopharyngeal area. The findings offer an explanation how classical male singers might succeed in producing a voice timbre with increased high frequency energy, creating a singer's formant cluster.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 10, no 7, e0132241
National Category
Otorhinolaryngology Music
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-172166DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0132241ISI: 000358198700031PubMedID: 26186691OAI: diva2:846772

QC 20150818

Available from: 2015-08-18 Created: 2015-08-14 Last updated: 2015-08-18Bibliographically approved

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Sundberg, Johan
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Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH
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