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A Study of Intensity Control in Males with Developing Voices: Implications for Pitch Range and Tessitura

Description: Research on voice change in males has generally fallen into two categories: music education studies of changes in the singing voice and speech studies of changes in the speaking voice. These studies rarely consider differences in the dynamic ability of male singers at different stages of vocal development. The concept of tessitura, a portion of the vocal range in which the singer sounds best, is referred to in the literature on vocal music, but the means for identifying its size and location within the range have not been consistently specified. Tessitura appears to be a portion of the range which is most controllable in terms of dynamics and agility and is optimal in tonal quality. This study used the phonetograph to investigate differences in measures of intensity control between pre-pubertal, pubertal (changing) and post-pubertal voices in 48 males aged 9 to 18 years old. These intensity measures were compared to ratings of vocal effort from a panel of 4 music educators in order to determine if tessitura could be identified from acoustic and perceptual evidence of an optimum vocal area. Results of the study were: 1) post-pubertal voices demonstrated greater control of vocal intensity as revealed in lower mean minimum and comfortable intensity measures, higher overall maximum intensity measures and a larger minimum-to-maximum intensity range; 2) intensity measures for pubertal voices were similar to those observed in pre-pubertal voices, contrary to trends suggested in the literature on voice change; 3) the Greatest Dynamic Range (GDR) on the phonetograph, indicating the range in which singers had the most dynamic control, was smaller than the range in which the singers were judged to sound best; 4) tessitura originated in the lower portion of the vocal range, around the location of mean speaking fundamental frequency. Although registers were not specifically investigated, tessitura appeared ...
Date: December 1996
Creator: Harris, Lee Davis