Laryngeal Vibratory Mechanisms: The Notion of Vocal Register Revisited

      Summary

      This study, focused on the laryngeal source level, introduces the concept of laryngeal vibratory mechanism. Human phonation is characterized by the use of four laryngeal mechanisms, labeled M0–M3, as evidenced by the electroglottographic (EGG) study of the transition phenomena between mechanisms with a population of men and women, trained and untrained singers. Macroscopic and local descriptions of the EGG signal are analyzed during the production of glissandos and held notes with different mechanisms. The transition from one mechanism to another of higher rank is characterized by a jump in frequency, a reduction of EGG amplitude, and a change in the shape of the derivative of the EGG (which may correspond to a reduction of the vibratory mass). These characteristics are used to identify a transition between two mechanisms, in complement with acoustic spectrographic analyses. The pitches of transitions between the two main mechanisms M1 and M2 and the range of the frequency-overlap region are described in detail. The notion of vocal register is revisited in the light of these concepts of laryngeal mechanism. The literature on vocal registers is reviewed, and it is shown that the confusion often cited with respect to this notion may be related to the heterogeneity of the approaches and methods used to describe the phenomena and to the multiplicity of descriptors. Therefore, the terminology of the registers is organized depending on their relation to the four laryngeal vibratory mechanisms.

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