Assessing Linearity in the Loudness Envelope of the Messa di Voce Singing Exercise Through Acoustic Signal Analysis

Manuj Yadav, Densil Cabrera, Dianna T Kenny
Journal of Voice 2015, 29 (5): 646.e11-21
Messa di voce (MDV) is a singing exercise that involves sustaining a single pitch with a linear change in loudness from silence to maximum intensity (the crescendo part) and back to silence again (the decrescendo part), with time symmetry between the two parts. Previous studies have used the sound pressure level (SPL, in decibels) of a singer's voice to measure loudness, so as to assess the linearity of each part-an approach that has limitations due to loudness and SPL not being linearly related. This article studies the loudness envelope shapes of MDVs, comparing the SPL approach with approaches that are more closely related to human loudness perception. The MDVs were performed by a cohort of tertiary singing students, recorded six times (once per semester) over a period of 3 years. The loudness envelopes were derived for a typical audience listening position, and for listening to one's own singing, using three models: SPL, Stevens' power law-based model, and a computational loudness model. The effects on the envelope shape due to room acoustics (an important effect) and vibrato (minimal effect) were also considered. The results showed that the SPL model yielded a lower proportion of linear crescendi and decrescendi, compared with other models. The Stevens' power law-based model provided results similar to the more complicated computational loudness model. Longitudinally, there was no consistent trend in the shape of the MDV loudness envelope for the cohort although there were some individual singers who exhibited improvements in linearity.

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