Common Vocal Effects and Partial Glottal Vibration in Professional Nonclassical Singers



      To multidimensionally investigate common vocal effects in experienced professional nonclassical singers, to examine their mechanism of production and reproducibility, to demonstrate the existence of partial glottal vibration, and to assess the potential of damage to the voice from nonclassical singing.

      Study Design

      Individual cohort study.


      Ten male singers aged between 25 and 46 years (34 ± 7 years [mean ± SD]) with different stylistic backgrounds were recruited (five pop/rock/metal, five musical theater). Participants repeatedly presented the usual nonclassical vocal effects and techniques in their repertoire. All performances were documented and analyzed using established instruments (eg, auditory-perceptual assessment, videolaryngostroboscopy, electroglottography, voice function diagnostics).


      The vocal apparatus of all singers was healthy and capable of high performance. Typical nonclassical vocal effects were breathy voice, creaky voice, vocal fry, grunting, distortion, rattle, belt, and twang. All effects could be easily differentiated from each other. They were intraindividually consistently repeatable and also interindividually produced in a similar manner. A special feature in one singer was the first evidence of partial glottal vibration when belting in the high register. The unintended transition to this reduced voice quality was accompanied by physical fatigue and inflexible respiratory support.


      The long-lasting use of the investigated nonclassical vocal effects had no negative impact on trained singers. The possibility of long-term damage depends on the individual constitution, specific use, duration, and extent of the hyperfunction. The incidence of partial glottal vibration and its consequences require continuing research to learn more about efficient and healthy vocal function in nonclassical singing.

      Key Words

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