Voice Research Summary: Summer 2017

Voice Quality After a Semi-Occluded Vocal Tract Exercise With a Ventilation Mask in Contemporary Commercial Singers: Acoustic Analysis and Self-Assessments

Marco Fantini, Giovanni Succo, Erika Crosetti, Alfonso Borragán Torre, Roberto Demo, Franco Fussi

Journal of Voice Volume 31, Issue 3, Pages 336–341

“The mask was put over the nose and mouth of the singer and occluded with the palm of the hand while warming up to create a positive pressure feedback in the vocal tract. Each singer of the experimental group was given instructions before the execution of the warm-up exercise to assure a proper performance and avoid muscle tensions while phonating.”

“The results of the present study support the immediate advantageous effects on singing voice of a semi-occluded vocal tract exercise with a ventilation mask in terms of acoustic quality, phonatory comfort, and voice quality perception in contemporary commercial singers. Long-term effects still remain to be studied.”



Human Speech: A Restricted Use of the Mammalian Larynx

Ingo R. Titze

Journal of Voice, Volume 31, Issue 2, Pages 135–141

“Using small and fragmentary data sets, arguments have been presented that current trends in the use of the human larynx for speech run counter to its fundamental design. Low f0 [low pitches], low intensity [softer volumes], and frequent adduction [vocal fold closure] for accent in speech prevent laryngeal muscles from being exercised with the appropriate ranges of motion and optimal lengthening. A very recent cross-species study has demonstrated that two factors account for a wide F0 range, the achievable fiber stress in the vocal ligament and the ability to elongate the vocal folds. Here it has been suggested that voice disorders such as muscle tension dysphonia, spasmodic dysphonia, or other larynx-based dysfluencies in speech may be linked to the mismatch between mammalian design and contemporary use of the larynx. It would appear, however, that regular exercise out of the context of speech could have a health benefit. For some people, this may parallel the need to exercise the spine and postural muscles of the body to overcome the effects of excessive bending, sitting, or otherwise distorting natural equilibria.”

In other words, human larynx design is optimized to make louder, higher sounds…sounds for calling over long distances…than the ones we make in everyday speech. From the article: “The positive message is that raising one’s voice to call, shout, or sing, or executing pitch glides to stretch the vocal folds, can counteract this trend toward a contracted state.”



A Joyful Noise: The Vocal Health of Worship Leaders and Contemporary Christian Singers

Leon Neto, David Meyer

Journal of Voice Volume 31, Issue 2, Pages 250.e17–250.e21

“The goal of the present study was to investigate the prevalence of vocal symptoms, vocal pathologies, and the level of vocal hygiene awareness in CCSs/WLs internationally. The participants’ familiarity with vocal hygiene principles was relatively low, as was their general level of voice training. However, the growing number of training opportunities for CCSs/WLs may partially address this problem, provided these programs address the vocal health of this population. Numerous vocal complaints, symptoms, and physician-diagnosed vocal pathologies were reported by CCSs/WLs. These preliminary findings warrant further investigation.”



Soul and Musical Theater: A Comparison of Two Vocal Styles

Hanna Hallqvist, Filipa M.B. Lã, and Johan Sundberg

Journal of Voice, Volume 31, Issue 2, Pages 229–235

“The phonatory and resonatory characteristics of nonclassical styles of singing have been rarely analyzed in voice research. Six professional singers volunteered to sing excerpts from two songs pertaining to the musical theater and to the soul styles of singing. Voice source parameters and formant frequencies were analyzed by inverse filtering tones, sung at the same fundamental frequencies in both excerpts. As compared with musical theater, the soul style was characterized by significantly higher subglottal pressure and maximum flow declination rate. Yet sound pressure level was lower, suggesting higher glottal resistance. The differences would be the effects of firmer glottal adduction and a greater frequency separation between the first formant and its closest spectrum partial in soul than in musical theater.”



Effect of Training and Level of External Auditory Feedback on the Singing Voice: Pitch Inaccuracy

Pasquale Bottalico, Simone Graetzer, Eric J. Hunter

Journal of Voice, Volume 31, Issue 1, Pages 122.e9–122.e16

“An interesting finding concerning the role of internal and external auditory feedback in pitch accuracy was that when external feedback was strongly attenuated, there was an increase rather than a decrease in accuracy for nonprofessional singers. This increase may have been caused by the masking of external feedback, which arguably encouraged greater reliance on internal auditory feedback, which was preserved.”


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