Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

School of Music

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

Descriptions of voice quality in vocal and choral music often rely on subjective terminology, which may be perceived differently between individuals. As access to software used in acoustic measurement becomes more widespread and affordable, music educators can potentially combine traditional descriptive terminology with objective acoustic descriptors and data, which may improve both teaching and singing. The secondary school choral music educator has specific challenges, in that they teach students who experience drastic physical and acoustic changes of the voice as they grow from children to adults. The purpose of this study was to objectively analyze various acoustic characteristics of the singing voice in secondary school students. In this study, secondary school students (N = 157) from three different schools who were enrolled in choir (n = 89) or instrumental music classes (n = 68) recorded voice samples singing five vowels, /i/, /e/, /a/, /o/, and /u/. Research questions investigated (a) descriptive statistics for vibrato rate, vibrato extent, singing power ratio, and amplitude differences between specific harmonic pairs; (b) differences in vibrato rate and extent between students enrolled in choir and students not enrolled in choir; (c) between-subjects and within-subjects comparisons in singing power ratio (SPR) between singers based on choir enrollment and voice part for five different vowel productions; and (d) between-subjects and within-subjects comparisons for differences in amplitude between specific harmonics between singers based on choir enrollment and voice part for five different vowel productions. Vibrato rate (M = 4.58 Hz, SD = 1.45 Hz ), vibrato extent (M = 1.45% or 25 cents, SD = 0.86% or 15 cents), and SPR (M = 24.67 dB, SD = 10 dB), and various amplitude differences were not different between students enrolled in choir and students not enrolled in choir. There were significant within-subjects differences for singers by vowel, as well as significant within-subjects interactions for vowel and voice part with SPR and amplitude differences between harmonic pairs. There were also significant differences between voice parts for amplitude difference between harmonic pairs. Implications for choral music educators and suggestions for further research based on these findings were discussed in Chapter 5.

Committee Chair

Isbell, Daniel Scott

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