The Use of Spectrographic Analysis of Female Voices in the College Voice Studio

Patricia Callaway, D.M.A.
Department of Music
LaGrange College

The purpose of this study was to examine the potential usefulness of spectrographic analysis technology for the training of female singers in a college voice studio. Specifically, the following questions guided the study: (1) What information can be satisfactorily delivered through the study of spectrographic wave files? (2) Will subjective data, including the teacher’s evaluation and subjects’ self-evaluation of their performance in the vocal studio, be consistent with the objective data from the spectrographic wave files? (3) Will the subjects find the use of the spectrograph helpful? (4) Will the use of spectrographic technology prove to be compatible with traditional teaching techniques?

Subjects were 10 students, ranging from ages 18-23, assigned to the investigator’s voice studio at a small private women’s college. Data collection took place during 10 sequential weekly lessons. After the warm-up segment of the lesson, students repeated three sequences of the same vocalise in ascending keys. A wave file recording was made of the third (highest) repetition. After recording the wave file, each subject completed a Likert-type questionnaire regarding her perception of the usefulness of the spectrograph. The teacher completed a comparable questionnaire

The findings were reported via graph analysis and case studies of each student. Analyses of the findings indicated that: (1) A rich variety of information may be gleaned from wave files. This information includes, but is not limited to, the strength of upper and lower level frequencies and the presence of vibrato, glottal attacks, uneven breath, and diction problems. (2) The spectrographic data were consistent with the instructor’s overall assessment of each subject, but little consistency was observed between that data and the instructor’s or the subjects’ assessment of their weekly or long-term progress; (3) The subjects found the spectrograph helpful, and appreciated its ability to provide a visual picture of vocal strenghths and weaknesses; (4) The use of the spectrograph is compatible with traditional voice teaching techniques

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