Voice Pedagogy Oral Presentations

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Acoustic Characteristics of Vocal Sounds

Joan Melton, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Theatre, CA State University Fullerton, Director, One Voice Centre for Integrative Studies, New York, NY 10023, [email protected], 917-991-5199

Zachary Bradford, Advanced Certificate in Vocal ...
Pedagogy, MMusSt, GDipMusSt, BMus. Head, New York Vocal Coaching Australia, Queensland 4509. [email protected], 0490812757

Jessica Y. J. Lee, PhD Candidate, Advanced Certificate in Vocal Pedagogy, M.M., B.M., Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, New York University, New York, NY 10003. [email protected], 814-880-3734


Objective: Theatre actors use voice in virtually any physical position, moving or still, and perform in a wide range of venues. The present study investigated acoustic qualities required to perform classical material without electronic amplification in outdoor spaces.

Design: Eight professional actors, four female, four male, from NY Classical Theatre performed 1-minute monologues, first stationary, then moving, for audio recording in Central Park. Four subjects recorded two monologues each, from productions in which they played both male and female characters. Data were analyzed for fundamental frequency (F0), sound pressure level (SPL), and long-term average spectrum (LTAS).

Results: Overall, F0 ranged between 75.38 and 530.33 Hz. Average F0 was 326 Hz stationary and 335.78 Hz moving for females, 248.54 Hz stationary, 252.82 Hz moving for males. SPL ranged from 28.54 to 110.51 dB for females, and 56.69 to 124.44 dB for males. Average SPL was 82 dB for females, 96.98 dB for males. On LTAS, females had a peak between 3 to 4 kHz ranging from 1.5 to 4.5 dB and another between 4 to 5 kHz ranging from 1 to 4.5 dB, while males had a peak between 3 to 4 kHz ranging from 1 to 8.5 dB.

Conclusions: Actors appear to use a similar F0 range across gender and performing conditions. Average F0 increased from stationary to moving. Males had greater SPL values than females,
and the amplitude of peaks in the region of the Actor’s Formant of LTAS curves was higher in male than female voices.

Acknowledgement: Sincere thanks to Johan Sundberg, PhD, Research Advisor for Data Analysis and Study Design
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