Acoustic parameters critical for an appropriate vibrato

Supraja Anand, Judith M Wingate, Brenda Smith, Rahul Shrivastav
Journal of Voice 2012, 26 (6): 820.e19-25

BACKGROUND: A plethora of investigations have studied the acoustic characteristics of vibrato such as the rate, extent, onset (time from initiation of phonation until the first peak of vibrato), and periodicity. Despite extensive research, the degree to which various parameters of vibrato contribute to its acceptability remain unclear.

PURPOSE: The present study sought to determine the psychoacoustical relationship of mean fundamental frequency (f(0)), modulation frequency (f(f0m)), modulation depth (d(f0m)), and intensity to the appropriateness or inappropriateness of vibrato.

METHOD: Phonation samples of eight voice majors singing at low, middle, and high pitches were obtained. A high fidelity vocoder (STRAIGHT; Kawahara, 1997) was used to resynthesize these vowels with systematic manipulations of f(f0m) and d(f0m) of the f(0) contours resulting in a total of 600 stimuli (8 singers×3 pitches×5 f(f0m) levels×5 d(f0m) levels). Nine listeners (four experts and five students) evaluated these stimuli for appropriateness of vibrato at two different presentation levels (70 and 90 dB sound pressure level).

RESULTS: Statistical analyses of the perceptual data suggest that appropriateness of vibrato tends to increase with mean f(0) and decrease with d(f0m.) Appropriateness of vibrato is greatest for f(f0m) value of 6 Hz, but decreases both above and below this frequency.

CONCLUSION: perceived appropriateness of vibrato results from an interaction of mean f(0), f(f0m), and d(f0m) of the vowel waveform.

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