Timbral and melodic characteristics of the Persian singing style of Avaz
The floridly ornamented Persian singing style called avaz was studied, focusing on melody characteristics in melismatic pitch transitions, phonation types, and formant to harmonic relationships.
Audio and EGG signals were simultaneously recorded from a professional male tenor range singer, who sang a Persian avaz song, scales, rapid tone reiterations, and alternations between two neighbouring tones. Voice source parameters and formant settings (F1 & F2) were measured from inverse filtering of the audio signal, using the custom made DeCap (Svante Granqvist) and the commercial Soundswell softwares. Fundamental frequency F0 was measured from the EGG signal using the Soundswell CORR tool.
In all melismatic embellishments, melody tones in the modal register were preceded by remarkably short falsetto episodes in which F0 quickly jumped up to a peak. Being produced in this way, tone repetitions and alternations had identical voice source data in their modal melody tones. Moreover, for most vowels, the singer tuned F1 to H2 (F0*2) and sometimes also F2 to some higher harmonics, in his higher voice range, i.e. above about Bb4 (235 Hz, approximately).
These findings are discussed in relation to western operatic formant strategies and the melodic ornaments of early Italian Baroque singing.