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October 2021

Intelligibility of vowels sung by a countertenor

Author(s): Chew, S. L.

Journal/Book: J Acoust Soc Am. 1986; 79: 124-30.

Abstract: Ten American English vowels were sung in a /b/-vowel-/d/ consonantal context by a professional countertenor in full voice (at F0 = 130, 165, 220, 260, and 330 Hz) and in head voice (at F0 = 220, 260, 330, 440, and 520 Hz). Four identification tests were prepared using the entire syllable or the center 200-ms portion of either the full-voice tokens or the head- voice tokens. Listeners attempted to identify each vowel by circling the appropriate word on their answer sheets. Errors were more frequent when the vowels were sung at higher F0. In addition, removal of the consonantal context markedly increased identification errors for both the head- voice and full-voice conditions. Back vowels were misidentified significantly more often than front vowels. For equal F0 values, listeners were significantly more accurate in identifying the head-voice stimuli. Acoustical analysis suggests that the difference of intelligibility between head and full voice may have been due to the head voice having more energy in the first harmonic than the full voice.

Keyword(s): Music|. Phonetics|. Speech Intelligibility|

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