Glottal Adduction and Subglottal Pressure in Singing

  • Christian T. Herbst
    Address correspondence and reprint requests to Christian T. Herbst, Voice Research Lab, Department of Biophysics, Faculty of Science, Palacký University Olomouc, 17 listopadu 12, Olomouc 771 46, Czech Republic.
    Voice Research Lab, Department of Biophysics, Faculty of Science, Palacký University Olomouc, Olomouc, Czech Republic

    Laboratory of Bio-Acoustics, Department of Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna, Wien, Austria
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  • Markus Hess
    Department of Voice, Speech and Hearing Disorders, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
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  • Frank Müller
    Department of Voice, Speech and Hearing Disorders, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
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  • Jan G. Švec
    Voice Research Lab, Department of Biophysics, Faculty of Science, Palacký University Olomouc, Olomouc, Czech Republic
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  • Johan Sundberg
    Department of Speech, Music, and Hearing, School of Computer Science and Communication, KTH Voice Research Centre, Stockholm, Sweden

    University College of Music Education Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden
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      Previous research suggests that independent variation of vocal loudness and glottal configuration (type and degree of vocal fold adduction) does not occur in untrained speech production. This study investigated whether these factors can be varied independently in trained singing and how subglottal pressure is related to average glottal airflow, voice source properties, and sound level under these conditions. A classically trained baritone produced sustained phonations on the endoscopic vowel [i:] at pitch D4 (approximately 294 Hz), exclusively varying either (a) vocal register; (b) phonation type (from “breathy” to “pressed” via cartilaginous adduction); or (c) vocal loudness, while keeping the others constant. Phonation was documented by simultaneous recording of videokymographic, electroglottographic, airflow and voice source data, and by percutaneous measurement of relative subglottal pressure. Register shifts were clearly marked in the electroglottographic wavegram display. Compared with chest register, falsetto was produced with greater pulse amplitude of the glottal flow, H1-H2, mean airflow, and with lower maximum flow declination rate (MFDR), subglottal pressure, and sound pressure. Shifts of phonation type (breathy/flow/neutral/pressed) induced comparable systematic changes. Increase of vocal loudness resulted in increased subglottal pressure, average flow, sound pressure, MFDR, glottal flow pulse amplitude, and H1-H2. When changing either vocal register or phonation type, subglottal pressure and mean airflow showed an inverse relationship, that is, variation of glottal flow resistance. The direct relation between subglottal pressure and airflow when varying only vocal loudness demonstrated independent control of vocal loudness and glottal configuration. Achieving such independent control of phonatory control parameters would be an important target in vocal pedagogy and in voice therapy.

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