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Seminar at Speech, Music and Hearing:

Thesis defense:

Putting the singing voice on the map: Towards improving the quantitative evaluation of the singer´s voice status

Anick Lamarche

Opponent: Thomas F. Cleveland, Vanderbilt University, Nashville TN, USA


Diagnostic and evaluative methods used in voice care are mostly designed for the speaking voice, and are not necessarily directly applicable to the singing voice. This thesis investigated the possibilities of fine tuning, improving and quantifying the voice status assessment of the singer, focusing especially on the Western operatic female voice.

In Paper I, possible singer-specific Voice Range Profile (VRP) characteristics and 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 frequency-related metrics. Two new VRP metrics, the area above 90 dB (Perc>=90dB) and the sound pressure level extent (SPLext), were found to be keys 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 impairment-related 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 buttonpress 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 rating 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 to voice clinicians who are treating singers. The results obtained in this work further contribute to the understanding of the singing voice and underline the importance of properly documenting the singing voice.

Keywords: Voice Range Profile, Phonetogram, Singing voice, Performance, Clinical assessment, Health, Voice disorder, Self-perception, Proprioceptive feedback 1

10:00 - 13:00
Friday March 6, 2009

The seminar is held in Sal F3, Flodis, Lindstedtsvägen 26.

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Published by: TMH, Speech, Music and Hearing

Last updated: Wednesday, 23-Jun-2010 09:22:46 MEST