Folia Phoniatr Logop 2010;62:278–287

Professional Opera Tenors’ Vocal Tract Configurations in Registers

Echternach M.a · Sundberg J.c · Markl M.b · Richter B.a
aDepartment of Musicians’ Medicine and bDepartment of Clinical Radiology, Medical Physics, Freiburg University Medical Center, Freiburg, Germany; cDepartment of Speech, Music and Hearing, Royal Technical University, Stockholm, Sweden
email Corresponding Author

 goto top of outline Key Words

  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Voice
  • Register
  • Articulation

 goto top of outline Abstract

Objective: Tenor singers may reach their top pitch range either by shifting from modal to falsetto register or by using their so-called ‘voix mixte’. Material and Methods: In this study, dynamic real-time MRI of 8 frames per second was used to analyze the vocal tract profile in 10 professional opera tenors, who sang an ascending scale from C4 (262 Hz) to A4 (440 Hz) on the vowel /a/. The scale included their register transition and the singers applied both register techniques in different takes. Results: Modal to falsetto register changes were associated with only minor vocal tract modifications, including elevation and tilting of the larynx and a lifted tongue dorsum. Transitions to voix mixte, by contrast, were associated with major vocal tract modifications. Under these conditions, the subjects widened their pharynges, their lip and jaw openings, and increased their jaw protrusion. These modifications were stronger in more ‘heavy’ tenors than in more ‘light’ tenors. The acoustic consequences of these articulatory changes are discussed.

Copyright © 2010 S. Karger AG, Basel

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    External Resources

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 goto top of outline Author Contacts

Matthias Echternach, MD
Institute of Musicians’ Medicine, Freiburg University Medical Center
Breisacher Strasse 60, DE–79106 Freiburg (Germany)
Tel. +49 761 270 6161, Fax +49 761 270 6169

 goto top of outline Article Information

Presented in part at the 6th International Conference on Voice Physiology and Biomechanics (ICVPB), Tampere, Finland, August 6–9, 2008.

Published online: June 28, 2010
Number of Print Pages : 10
Number of Figures : 7, Number of Tables : 2, Number of References : 22

 goto top of outline Publication Details

Folia Phoniatrica et Logopaedica (International Journal of Phoniatrics, Speech Therapy and Communication Pathology)

Vol. 62, No. 6, Year 2010 (Cover Date: October 2010)

Journal Editor: Schutte H.K. (Groningen)
ISSN: 1021-7762 (Print), eISSN: 1421-9972 (Online)

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