Tongue Adjustments in the Chest-Head Register Transition of Operatic Singers
AbstractThe change in register from head to chest voice has been widely associated with laryngeal adjustments, including greater vocal fold adduction [Thalén & Sundberg (2009) LPV 26], longer glottal closed phase [Henrich, D. N. (2006) LPV 31], and vocal fold thickening [Herbst, Ternström, & Švec (2009) JASA 125]. Comparatively little research has looked at supralaryngeal adjustments across singing registers. Notably, Echternach and colleagues conducted a series of real-time MRI studies investigating the shape of the supraglottal vocal tract between registers. They found that the tongue dorsum was more elevated and farther back in falsetto than in modal voicing for operatic singers [Echternach et al. (2011a) J Voice 25]. A further study of classical singers and yodellers found the tongue dorsum was more elevated for higher pitches [Echternach et al. (2011b) LPV 31]. These studies showed significant variation across individuals and different vowels [Echternach et al. (2014) J Voice 28]. All of these previous studies, however, measured the tongue at only two points: tongue dorsum/body height and pharynx width. The present study aims to provide a more comprehensive investigation into the specific tongue adjustments made during register shifts. In particular, we will report on ultrasound imaging measurements of advancement and retraction of the tongue root and overall change in tongue contour. These measurements will be reported for trained opera singers producing transitions between chest and head register, across six vowels. Preliminary results indicate that singers raise the tongue body while advancing the tongue root across the chest-head transition. These findings contribute a more thorough understanding of the significance of tongue adjustments in register transitions.
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