The interaction of formant frequency and pitch in the perception of voice category and jaw opening in female singers

Molly L Erickson
Journal of Voice 2004, 18 (1): 24-37
This study represents a first step toward understanding the contribution formant frequency makes to the perception of female voice categories. The effects of formant frequency and pitch on the perception of voice category were examined by constructing a perceptual study that used two sets of synthetic stimuli at various pitches throughout the female singing range. The first set was designed to test the effects of systematically varying formants 1 through 4. The second set was designed to test the relative effects of lower frequency formants (F1 and F2) versus higher frequency formants (F3 and F4) through construction of mixed stimuli. Generally, as the frequencies of all four formants decreased, perception of soprano voice category decreased at all but the highest pitch, A5. However, perception of soprano voice category also increased as a function of pitch. Listeners appeared to need agreement between all four formants to perceive voice categories. When upper and lower formants are inconsistent in frequency, listeners were unable to judge voice category, but they could use the inconsistent patterns to form perceptions about degree of jaw opening.

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