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Sixth International Conference on the Physiology and Acoustics of Singing


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University of Nevada, Las Vegas
October 17-20, 2012


Address of Conference: 4505 Maryland Parkway

Las Vegas, NV 89154

Useful Telephone Numbers: (702) 895-3332 UNLV Department of Music Office

(702) 895-2540 UNLV Studio, Tod Fitzpatrick (Coordinator)

911 UNLV Police Emergency

311 UNLV Police, Non-Emergency

Conference Website:


Department of Music

College of Fine Arts

University of Nevada, Las Vegas
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David Howard, University of York, Department of Electronics

Eric Hunter, University of Utah, National Center for Voice and Speech

Scott McCoy, Ohio State University, Director of the Helen Swank Voice Teaching and Research Lab

John Nix, University of Texas, San Antonio, Department of Music

Donald Miller, Groningen Voice Research, The Netherlands

Stephen Robertson, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Head of Vocal Performance

Ronald Scherer, Bowling Green State University, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

Harm Schutte, Groningen Voice Research, The Netherlands

Jan Svec, Palacky University Olomouc, Department of Biophysics, the Czech Republic


Jonathan Good, Department of Music Chair

Stacy Shapin, Department of Music Office Manager

Parwin Bakhtary, Department of Music Administrative Assistant

Sandra DeBorger, Department of Music Scheduling/Reservations

Haik Gumroyan, Department of Music Security

Rob Mader, Department of Music Computer Technician

Jennifer Oshiro and Rachel Bell UNLV Events Services

Diana Russell, UNLV Catering

UNLV Voice Faculty: Alfonse Anderson, Michelle Latour, Linda Lister, David Weiller

The many undergraduate and graduate students assisting with the conference.

Christine Ebersole and the Smith Center for the Performing Arts

macintosh hd:users:tod:desktop:pas presentation schedule.pdf

Thursday, October 18, 2012
Investigation of glottal configurations in singing
Christian T. Herbst, PhD

Laboratory of Bio-Acoustics, Dept. of Cognitive Biology

University of Vienna

It is well known that the voice timbre can be controlled in the vocal tract in various ways. The adjustment of the voice character at the laryngeal level, however, receives less attention, particularly in the pedagogic literature. Hence, this presentation focuses on the sound source: How can singers control and fine-tune the voice timbre by adjustments of the vocal folds? And what are the possibilities of monitoring these maneuvers in a pedagogical or therapeutic setting?

The timbral voice characteristics can be controlled at the laryngeal level by (a) cartilaginous adduction, i.e. the adduction of the posterior glottis via the arytenoids (controlled by the singer with the degree of “breathiness” / ”pressedness”); and by (b) membranous medialization through vocal fold bulging (controlled by the choice of vocal register, i.e. chest vs. falsetto). These two maneuvers can be controlled separately by both trained and untrained singers.
A pedagogical model that incorporates the two described physiological parameters consists of four quadrants: aBducted falsetto, aDducted falsetto, aBducted chest, and aDducted chest. Accomplished singers can “navigate” this map at will, thus facilitating subtle timbral changes at the laryngeal level. This concept is very promising for voice pedagogy and therapy, and for better understanding various singing styles.
In conclusion of the presentation, a novel method for monitoring vocal fold contact in voice production is put forward: the electroglottographic (EGG) wavegram. It is shown how features seen in this non-invasive technique are related to cartilaginous adduction and membranous medialization. The applicability of the method in the singing study and in a speech therapy setting is discussed.


The glottal closed quotient as a key parameter for register in determining "chest," "head," and "mix" in classical and other modes of singing voice production
Donald Miller, PhD

Groningen Voice Research

Groningen, The Netherlands
The distinction between the registers "chest" and "head-falsetto" in classical, and especially operatic, singing is reasonably well understood, but less scientific scrutiny has been given to the factor register in what is typically called "mix" in styles of singing that take amplification as a given. This presentation will focus on objective characteristics of various types of singing that are normally amplified, particularly what is sometimes called “belting.” The data will come from female practitioners of such singing, measured non-invasively through microphone and electroglottograph (EGG) signals. The study aims to contribute to information that will aid in identifying the goals of instruction in these styles, as well as providing feedback on whether the goals are being attained.


The Use of the IPA in the Choral Rehearsal
Duane R. Karna, DMA

Director of Choral Activities

Associate Professor of Music Performance

College of Fine Arts, School of Music

Ball State University

Muncie, Indiana

I believe that the teaching and use of the International Phonetic Alphabet’s symbols for sound should be used for all singers within the context of the choral rehearsal. The IPA can be reinforced daily through the use of choral warm-ups that introduce new and familiar sounds and their corresponding IPA symbols. These “symbols for sounds” can be taught and reinforced during each choral rehearsal as the choir strives for uniformity of sound and more precise diction. And with a handout of an IPA transcription of a choral composition’s foreign language text, the choral singers will be able to pronounce and practice pronouncing the foreign language text more accurately.

It is my belief that, over time, a choir which has developed an understanding of

The International Phonetic Alphabet will not only be able to communicate more effectively with their director, but they will also be more effective in communicating intelligibility of text to their audiences. The singers will also become more knowledgeable and capable of pronouncing foreign language choral texts with appropriate and accurate diction.

The effects of varied non-verbal conductor gestures on LTAS measures of choral sound, chorister and expert panel perceptions, and intonation analysis: A report of two studies to date.
Melissa L. Grady, M.Mus., Ph.D. Student

Vocal/Choral Pedagogy Research Group

The University of Kansas. Division of Music Education and Music Therapy

Lawrence, KS

In Rodney Eichenburger’s instructional conducting video What They See is What You Get (Eichenburger & Dunn, 1994), Eichenburger claimed that everything the conductor shows a choir non-verbally would affect the overall sound. Specifically, He discussed and demonstrated conductor right hand lateral gestural movement verses vertical gestural movement. Eichenberger asserted that a choir will “sag in pitch” on sustained sounds if the conductor employs a lateral conducting gesture. He further asserted that “as long as you are in an upward movement something good happens to the tone,” and it will be more energized and in tune. The two investigations reported here test these specific contentions advocated by Eichenburger.
Both studies analyzed audio recordings of choristers as they sang the same musical excerpt while following a videotaped conductor who displayed (a) a traditional conducting pattern, (b) a vertical right hand conducting gesture, and (c) a lateral right hand conducting gesture. Videotaped conducting assured consistency of all other conductor behaviors across conditions.
Among results of a pilot study with a choir soprano section: (a) LTAS data showed significant mean signal amplitude differences in the vertical conducting condition compared to the other conditions, especially in the 2 – 4 kHz frequency region; (b) Max/MSP pitch analyses indicated that the vertical gesture excerpt was most in tune with itself and the traditional gesture excerpt was least in tune with itself; (c) expert listeners (N = 10) preferred recordings of both lateral and vertical gesture over traditional gesture; and (d) singers noticed differences between the three conducting conditions, offering the most positive comments for the vertical conducting gesture.
A subsequent study was conducted with a full SATB choir and featured a longer musical excerpt sung in a different room, along with some refinements in the presentation of the lateral and vertical conducting gestures. Primary results of this investigation mirrored those of the previous study, with the single exception that the lateral conducting gesture was the least in tune with itself.
Results of these two studies will be discussed in terms of possible effects of nonverbal conductor behaviors on conglomerate, choral sound, and what these data may suggest for future research.

Perceptual and Acoustic Characteristics of University Practice Rooms for Vocal Music
Heather R. Nelson, M.A., M.M., PhD Student

Vocal / Choral Pedagogy Group

University of Kansas, Division of Music Education and Music Therapy

Lawrence, KS.

The purpose of this study was to measure acoustical characteristics of individual music practice rooms (N =4), using impulse response testing to measure (a) reverberation rate, (b) early decay time, and measure Maximum Length Sequence noise reduction in two adjacent spaces. Practice rooms were selected by a survey of voice performance students (N = 32) at a major university School of Music, who were asked to indicate their most preferred and least preferred practice rooms and why they preferred or did not prefer these specific practice rooms.
Among primary results: (a) acoustical testing procedures indicated differences in reverberation rates and early decay times among the four practice rooms examined; (b) the practice room most frequently preferred by responding singers showed longer reflection times, stronger amplitude with subsequent reflections at the octave band center frequency of 2 kHz regardless of the direction of the sound impulse, and increased decay times; (c) noise reduction measurements found satisfactory noise reduction between two adjacent rooms, but unsatisfactory noise control from the corridor into the room; (d) most survey comments overall (ca. 65% - 89%) referenced non-acoustical/non-psycho-acoustical reasons for particular practice room preferences, with most of these comments addressing the condition of practice room pianos.
Results were discussed in terms of directions for future research, and the pedagogical roles of practice room environments in providing student singers with adequate aural feedback as they learn and refine vocal singing technique.

The Use of Hyperbaric Oxygen in the Treatment of Vocal Fold Injury
Art Joslin, DMA

National Center for Voice and Speech Affiliate

Cornerstone University
Despite the use of hyperbaric oxygen in the treatment of smoke inhalation, laryngeal cancer, tissue necrosis, and decompression sickness, very little is known about its use in treating voice disorders. Medical treatments using high partial pressure of oxygen have been known to reduce tissue swelling, promote healing of damaged tissue, speed vascular repair and regeneration, as well as overall wound healing. However, no research is known to exist using hyperbaric oxygen therapy in the treatment of vocal fold injury. This research will attempt to bridge the gap and explore the efficacy of using hyperbaric oxygen in the treatment of vocal fold injuries, specifically Reinke’s edema, vascular hemorrhages of the vocal folds, and severe vocal fold edema.


The EMG activity of the diaphragm and the diaphragm’s influence on vertical larynx position. A study utilizing ultrasound imaging to visualize the movement of the diaphragm and the vertical larynx position, and electromyography to explore muscle activity in the diaphragm and four other significant breathing muscles.
Viggo Pettersen. Professor Dr. philos

Department of Music and Dance

University of Stavanger

4036 Stavanger, Norway

Hans Torp, dr. tech, Professor

Department of circulation and medical imaging. The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), 7491 Trondheim, Norway

Kåre Bjørkøy, Professor

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), 7491 Trondheim, Norway

Introduction: By two professional classical singers and two student classical singers this study will utilize ultrasound imaging (USI) to a simultaneously examining of the anterior and dorsal diaphragm (ADPH and DDPH) movements and the vertical larynx position (VLP). At the same time electromyography (EMG) will be utilized to explore the electrical activity of the ADPH, DDPH, the sternocleido (STM), the lower intercostals (LINT), the upper anterior abdominal muscles (UAABD) and the lower anterior abdominal muscles (LAABD).
Material: Three ultrasound devices were utilized: ADPH was investigated by a transabdominal scan from the right hypochondrium. DDPH was surveyed by examining the movement of the left kidney. VLP was monitored by placing the probe on the right side of the neck. EMG activity was recorded from ADPH, DDPH, STM, LINT, UAABD and LAABD.
Results USI; Anterior DPH (ADPH): During phonation a linear ascending movement pattern is observed in sections of the aria sequence. In some sections of phonation time the ascending movement stops, and in small phonation sections even descending movements are observed.

USI; Dorsal DPH (DDPH/kidney): During phonation, by the student soprano and the student counter tenor, the DDPH moves primarily cranially until the highest position is reached. Thereafter, the DDPH remains in that position, with a couple of very small caudal adjustments, during the rest of the phonation time. By the professional soprano a highly deviant pattern is observed: During phonation ascending movements are superseded by abrupt caudal movements. Only in small sections the DDPH is observed in its highest position. By the professional tenor caudal adjustments are observed shortly before vocal challenges, as pitch changes and repeated powerful tones.

USI; VLP: VLP is observed to be more dependent of the DDPH’s position than on the ADPH’s position. By the professional soprano and the professional tenor, when facing vocal challenges, the caudal movements observed in the DDPH are also observed in the VLP. The student soprano and the student counter tenor show a VLP pattern similar to those of the professional singers but with less consistency of interaction between VLP and DDPH position.
Results EMG; ADPH: EMG activity is observed during most of the inhalation phase when breathing in for the first breathing sequence. With inhalations during sustained singing, EMG activity in the ADPH is observed by all singers during the final part of the inhalation phase. During phonation EMG activity is observed as the ascending movements are retired.

EMG; DDPH: EMG activity is phased close to similar to the EMG activity of the ADPH site, except for the professional tenor. He did not show any EMG activity during inhalation in the DDPH. The caudal adjustments, observed during phonation, are apparently influenced by the DDPH’s own activity.

EMG; STM, LINT, UAABD and LAABD sites: The results will be presented at the Conference.
Discussion: The results will be discussed
Conclusion: The caudal adjustments, observed in both ADPH and DDPH during phonation, are apparently influenced by the DPH’s own activity. During phonation VLP is observed to be more dependent of the DDPH’s position than on the ADPH’s position.

Airflow and the Singing Voice: adding real-time airflow measures to the pedagogic toolbox
Scott McKoy, DMA

Professor of Voice and Pedagogy

Director of the Helen Swank Voice Teaching and Research Lab

The Ohio State University

Airflow and the Singing Voice: adding real-time airflow measures to the pedagogic toolbox

Many singing teachers—especially those who attend events such as PAS—have come to rely on acoustic analysis as a pedagogic aid. Some also use EGG to provide biofeedback for vocal processes that otherwise would be invisible. At The Ohio State University, students and faculty in the Swank Voice Research Lab are taking real-time feedback to another level, incorporating airflow measures in singer training. This session presents an overview of our activities in this area, along with related research projects that are in our pipeline.


Modeling and Predicting Vocal Recovery
Eric J. Hunter, PhD 1,2,3
1. National Center for Voice and Speech

The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

2. Division of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery

The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

3. Department of Bioengineering, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

Singers often experience tired voice or vocal fatigue from high or intense voice use, characterized by the reduced ability to phonate without increased effort or other perceptual quality. Vocal fatigue is likely based on many underlying effects, such as LPR, glottal incompetence from a slight weakness of the vocal folds, infection, poor vocal technique, or vocal overuse. It appears that the non-pathologic recovery trajectories of vocal fatigue have a short-term and long-term component. Using data from a previous study where six singers were tracked over multiple days, including a heavy voice use day (e.g. performance or extra-long rehearsal), results were compared to another population of high voice users, school teachers, to compare vocal use and recovery. A model of phonation exposure and recovery will be used to discuss guidelines for vocalization safety limits, including optimal vocal vibration exposure and vocal rest periods.

Acknowledgements: Funding for this work was provided by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, grant number 1R01 DC04224. The author would like to thank the research team (both past and present) at the National Center for Voice and Speech with many supporting roles. Data from the singers was collected under the direction of John Nix with funding from the Recording Academy. Thanks to Ingo R. Titze for the initial design of these studies.


Acoustic and perceptual comparisons of SATB choir performances in two auditoria, with three chorister spacing conditions, two heights of choral risers, and three microphone locations
James F. Daugherty, Ph.D.

Robert C. Coffeen, P.E., FASA

Melissa Grady, MME, Ph.D. Student
Vocal/Choral Pedagogy Research Group

The University of Kansas

This is the third in a series of studies exploring potential effects of chorister spacing and riser step heights on choral singing production and propagation.
Under controlled conditions, we assessed 12 performances of an SATB choir (N =32) both acoustically (LTAS, and smoothed one-third octave band analyses) and perceptually (listener ratings, singer perceptions). Choristers performed the same musical excerpt six times in two auditoria. Sung trials in each auditorium included three chorister spacing conditions (close, lateral, circumambient) on each of two riser units (regular riser step height, taller riser step height). Sound data were acquired from three, calibrated Earthworks precision omni-directional microphones, placed at ear heights in a conductor position, an early audience position, and a mid-hall position in each auditorium.
We assigned singer positions randomly within a block sectional choir formation used throughout the study. The choir practiced equal amounts of time on each riser unit in each spacing condition prior to the recording sessions. Videotaped conducting served as a control for tempo consistency and assured that singers responded to precisely the same conductor behaviors in all sung trials. We discussed results in terms of voice-friendly choral performance practices, the studies done thus far, and suggestions for future research.

Comparative Analysis of A Professional Children’s Chorus: Two Research Perspectives
Jeannette LoVetri

Director, The Voice Workshop

New York, NY
Two independent research studies have been conducted on the Brooklyn Youth Chorus Academy’s Concert Chorus. In 2010, Dr. Christopher Barlow of Great Britain’s Southampton Solent University published "Closed Quotient and Spectral Measures of Female Adolescent Singers in Different Singing Styles" and in 2012, Dr. Richard Morris of Florida State University published "Long-Term Average Spectra From a Youth Choir Singing in Three Vocal Registers and Two Dynamic Levels". Both studies appeared in the Journal of Voice. The findings indicate that the chorus is singing in distinctive and healthy vocal qualities as found in classical repertoire and also in Contemporary Commercial Music styles such as pop, rock and folk music. Individual artists and organizations as diverse as the NY Philharmonic and Elton John, with whom the chorus has performed at Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden, respectively, have recognized the chorus’s abilities. This paper presents a comparison of the data in the two research studies and discusses its finding with implications for training children to sing, for training in children’s choruses and for an American rather than English “boy-choir” approach to singing. The presenter is a co-author on both studies.

Absolute Vocal Range in Singers
Lisa Popeil


Sherman Oaks, CA
Edrie Means Weekly, BME, MM in Vocal Performance

Associate Professor of Voice

Shenandoah University and Conservatory of Music, Winchester, VA

Contemporary Commercial Music Vocal Pedagogy Institute, Co-Founder

Historically, vocal range has been defined as usable or performable range. Absolute range is defined here as the highest and lowest notes a singer can produce on a regular basis.  Surprisingly, very few singers or even voice teachers are aware of their absolute range, often underestimating it by as much as two octaves. 
This project used a protocol to ascertain the highest and lowest notes of approximately 60 subjects, male and female singers of different levels of experience.  Singers were between the ages of 25 and 45 (post pubertal and pre-menopausal) and in good vocal and physical health.  Singers could be classically or commercially trained though singers of unusual heights (below 5’ or over 6’4”) were excluded.  
Eight US and UK voice teachers collected the data. They were instructed on the range-finding protocol with instructional videos. Topics included in each subject’s responses to a questionnaire: age, gender, height, years of training, subjective voice type/fach, absolute lowest and highest note, teacher’s perception of subject’s timbre and time of day.
The purpose of this study was to determine if 3 1/3 octave was indeed the most common vocal range; to see if males have, on average, larger ranges than women; and to see what disparity, if any, lay between singers’ self-assessment of range/timbre and the results of the tests.




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