As the Voice Cracks [research study]

Effect of Voice Change on Singing Pitch Accuracy in Young Male Singers,” Elizabeth C. Willis and Dianna T. Kenny, Journal of Interdisciplinary Music Studies, vol. 2, nos. 1 and 2, Spring/Fall 2008, pp. 111-119. (Thanks to Martin Gardiner for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at the Australian Centre for Applied Research in Music Performance and at Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney, report:

“During the voice-change process, singing for adolescent boys may become more difficult and unpredictable…. Through analysis of 79 recordings of the perfect 4th, perfect 5th and octave sung by adolescent boys (mean age 13y5m), this study investigated singing-pitch accuracy of boys at varying stages of voice change. This study confirmed Cooksey’s finding (2000) that a SFo [descending speaking fundamental frequency] of 196 Hz [g3] is a critical point in voice-change, and that boys undergoing voice-change rely on their SFo as a reference point for pitching in singing. It was found that the perfect 4th was the most accurately sung interval, followed by the perfect 5th. Boys in all stages of voice-change found the octave difficult possibly due to varying vocal range limitations experienced during the changing voice process.”

Read that and more, in the column “Music and Noise Research—Explorations of artistic and other vibrations” [free, downloadable PDF], in the special NOISE issue of the Annals of Improbable Research.

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