Friday's Afternoon Panel

Panel Moderator Ingo Titze
Panel Members Johan Sundberg, Joe Wolfe, Pat Callaway, Leon Thurman (left to right in following picture.)
Picture of Panel

Unidentified audience member for Dr. Thurman – One thing that you mentioned at the beginning of your presentation was that you said the brain controls the body. In your vocal demonstrations, the eventual point I thought you were going to connect with that was that perhaps our conception of vocal registers can manifest different registers in our voice. Would you agree with that to a certain degree? If you think ‘I have 5 registers’ therefore you sing with 5 registers, or ‘I have 1 register’ therefore I sing with 1 register. Audio link.
Answer & further discussion Audio link.

Bill Reilly–I have a bit of a problem, because in my community, we have a number of teachers that come from many different angles, and we have a big semantic problem with what is being discussed here. We have teachers that call falsetto something in the female voice and something in the male voice, other teachers that call the falsetto something that is loud and raucous not soft and light. There are some teachers that call the chest voice something that is very, very low in pitch, and other that call it something very, very high in pitch. So I really have 2 focuses to my question; perhaps a scientist can answer it as well as a voice teacher can. I’m yearning for a clarity that will bring us to an examination of laryngeal function and then to function that is beyond laryngeal that includes resonances and also the important of noises and other non-tone kinds of things that affect our perception of vocal stylistic entities. So I’d love it if we could refer to laryngeal events as fry, modal, loft and flagolet, or some other definition, and if we start talking about the perceptions of musicians, singers and artists with the traditional terms that would clarify definitions. I think we should also look very clearly at other issues such as acoustic and noise issues and when we hear a rock and roll singer that does their scream that takes them up into their high register, what is that high register, is it more noise, is it more pitch, more laryngeal or is it more supra-laryngeal? Audio link.
Answer and Discussion – Johan Sundberg, Leon Thurman, Joe Wolfe. Audio link.

Ruth Rainero for Johan Sundberg – If you are continuing this sort of research, I’m very curious about a couple things. 1. whether this opening of the laryngeal port opens at a higher register, my hypothesis is that both male and female singers will do this more in a lower register and less in higher frequencies simply because you can project better at a higher frequency and you need more of that nasality in a lower register. Also I’d very much like to know what is going on with French nasal vowels. […listen to the audio link for remaining question] Audio link.
Audio link.

Ron Scherer – A couple of comments on registers, then a couple questions for Johan. We must not apologize for the history of registers and how people have dealt with it. They’ve always been sincere attempts to help people with voice aspects. Second, we mustn’t, however, rearrange our confusion, that’s a perpetual mistake that we make. What we have to do, and a lot of people in this room are doing that, is to do the experimentation, the research, the modeling, as has been said by many, to try to clarify how the body functions to create different kinds of sound, including registers. Once that has been done sufficiently, the right terms and the right descriptors will fall out operationally, and they will be based on the physiological, acoustic and aerodynamic terms with which those qualities, etc are defined. So I think we should just be patient and really encourage team research between those who apply voice and need to have registers dealt with and those who are trained scientifically. Johan, when the nasal tract was admitted into the system, it seemed like the first couple of formants are reduced, thus making the relative energy of the third formant a little higher, although you seemed to conclude that when you added the nasal tract it augmented the singer’s formant. So I was a little confused about that disparity.Audio link.
Audio link.

Ron Scherer – What do you think that extra bump was that was coming up with the singer you showed just to the left of the singer’s formant? What do you think that was? I’ve never seen that do you know what I mean? Audio link.
Johan Sundberg & Joe Wolfe. Audio link.

Ron Scherer – When you added the sinus cavity, was the opening to the sinus cavity a realistic opening, was it like a little hemholz thing? It seemed like when you added it in, you really didn’t want to, because it tended to destroy the spectrum a little bit, and do you think people really do that? Audio link.
Johan Sundberg Audio link.

Comment, [cannot catch name] – I would like to give a clarification about the laryngeal mechanism; there seems to be some confusion, it does not seem to be clear. It does not replace the terminology of vocal registers; it is just something to help understand what is happening with the vocal folds' configuration. It is based on physical measurements of electroglottographic transition. So when you are producing a glissando, you can pass through many registers, but at one point if you are looking at the envelope of the EGG signals, there is a suddent change in the envelope. Because of this transition in the envelope of the electroglottographic signals, which means there is change in the vocal folds' contact area, the laryngeal mechanisms have been defined and characterized. In France it is very helpful for singing students to understand more about their production, especially what is happening here, there is still a lot to know about what is happening in the vocal tract and what are the interactions between the vocal tract and vocal fold configuration. Audio link.

John Nix for Pat Callaway – Did having the spectrograph in your studio help students in understanding registers? Audio link.
Audio link.

Esther Hardenbergh – As a singer, I was not trained with technology, and the primary means I have of knowing what I’m doing is kinesthetic – what my body and my throat are telling me; what my senses are telling me, not visual and not hearing specifically. So how do you help the students make the leap from what they are visually seeing to what they are feeling. I’m on the fence about technology, I’m very interested in it, but I can’t quite see…. I see you use it as a visual cue very effectively, but I can’t quite get to where the kid is on the stage and they don’t have that line anymore. Audio link.
Pat Callaway, Johan Sundberg. Audio link.

[Comment & Discussion] Ingo Titze – We seem to go in cycles, and coming back to talking about registers in terms of words. I have a plea with all of us – let’s not invent any new words, unless we put an experience or piece of data with it. Inventing new words does nothing to us but complicate the situation. We have good words for registers, we just don’t have, as Johan and Ron both said, enough data to go with the words. We need to all clarify that as we go on, especially if we start inventing new words just to draw attention to our work, and that doesn’t serve anybody in any way. If in France Laryngeal mechanism is the better way to explain it, so be it, but we can go this far and say falsetto and modal voice are laryngeal mechanisms and they are the type, but to put class 1 or 2 or number 1 or 2 added to it does not, in itself, add any new information, and it just requires more explanation every time we bring up this topic. […listen to audio link for further discussion] Audio link.
Pat Callaway, Johan Sundberg. Audio link.