The relationship between measured vibrato characteristics and perception in Western operatic singing

Patricia Howes, Jean Callaghan, Pamela Davis, Dianna Kenny, William Thorpe
Journal of Voice 2004, 18 (2): 216-30
This study examined the association between acoustic and perceptual data related to vibrato in Western operatic singing using recordings of performances by internationally famous opera singers. Three related studies were conducted. Study 1 used commercial recordings of the same five singers and the same cadenza examined by Siegwart and Scherer(1), measured vibrato rate and extent in each singer's performance of the cadenza and tested possible associations between these vibrato attributes and judges' preference for singers. Studies 2 and 3, using recordings of different internationally famous singers and a different cadenza, measured vibrato onset, rate, and extent in each singer's performance of the cadenza, required judges to rank the singers in order of personal preference, to identify the emotion expressed, and to assess the degree of success in communicating emotion achieved by the singer. The findings showed that the perception of the singers' vibrato did not always agree with acoustic measurements. However, a comparison of the acoustic measurements with the preference and emotion judgments suggest that some elements of vibrato may affect listeners' perception of the voice, their preference for a particular singer, and assist the communication of emotion between singer and audience.

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