"An Acoustic and Aerodynamic Study of Diatonic Scale Singing in a Professional Female Soprano"

by Tan, Haidee Lynn

Abstract (Summary)
The purpose of this study was to describe the acoustic and aerodynamic characteristics of diatonic scale singing at different tempi in a professional female soprano. The classically trained singer sang ascending-descending ninth scales on /a/ in the F# major key at five different tempi- slow, moderately slow, moderately fast, fast, and fastest. All scales were performed with a moderate loudness level and with a pre-determined metronome marking. Tempo was controlled in order to determine whether differences existed between scales that were sung at a comfortable tempo and scales that were sung at an uncomfortable tempo. The slow (1 note = 104 beats / minute), moderately fast (2 notes = 92 beats / minute), and fastest (4 notes = 92 beats / minute) tempi were designated as comfortable because they were typically performed with integer multiple vibrato cycles per note. The moderately slow (2 notes = 72 beats / minute) and fast (4 notes = 69 beats / minute) tempi were designated as potentially uncomfortable because the note durations were not integer multiples of the singer's typical vibrato cycle period. There were a total of 5 ascending-descending scales analyzed in this study, one for each tempo. The results of the study strongly suggested trends in the acoustic and aerodynamic measures when tempo and scale direction were controlled. The following observations were noted: 1)mean fundamental frequency (F0) was higher in the descending notes than the corresponding ascending notes, 2)average F0 vibrato extent decreased as tempo increased, 3)mean note intensity was greatest at the highest notes and lowest at the lowest notes of the scale, 4)secondary intensity peaks were observed at the third (A#4) or fourth (B4) notes of both the ascending and descending portions of the scale, 5)airflow was greatest at the lowest notes of the scale and lowest at the highest notes of the scale, and 6)average airflow vibrato extent decreased as tempo increased. Distinctive trends were not observed between the two tempo categories (comfortable and uncomfortable). However, except for the slowest tempo, scales sung at a comfortable tempo demonstrated greater regularity in the number of vibrato cycles per note than scales sung at an uncomfortable tempo. The secondary intensity peaks observed in the scales suggest a tuning of the second harmonic partial with the first formant of /a/. Higher airflows at lower notes and lower airflows at higher notes suggest greater laryngeal flow resistance and greater glottal adduction at the higher notes. It is hypothesized that F0 and airflow vibrato extent may have decreased with tempo increase because the singer applied a control strategy of less variation of subglottal pressure, cricothyroid contraction, and glottal adduction as the tempo increased.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Bowling Green State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:singing scales diatonic florid acoustic aerodynamic soprano fast passages rapid note change classical western tempo fundamental frequency accura


Date of Publication:01/01/2009

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