A Computerized Tomography Study of Vocal Tract Setting in Hyperfunctional Dysphonia and in Belting



      Vocal tract setting in hyperfunctional patients is characterized by a high larynx and narrowing of the epilaryngeal and pharyngeal region. Similar observations have been made for various singing styles, eg, belting. The voice quality in belting has been described to be loud, speech like, and high pitched. It is also often described as sounding “pressed” or “tense”. The above mentioned has led to the hypothesis that belting may be strenuous to the vocal folds. However, singers and teachers of belting do not regard belting as particularly strenuous.


      This study investigates possible similarities and differences between hyperfunctional voice production and belting. This study concerns vocal tract setting.


      Four male patients with hyperfunctional dysphonia and one male contemporary commercial music singer were registered with computerized tomography while phonating on [a:] in their habitual speaking pitch. Additionally, the singer used the pitch G4 in belting. The scannings were studied in sagittal and transversal dimensions by measuring lengths, widths, and areas.


      Various similarities were found between belting and hyperfunction: high vertical larynx position, small hypopharyngeal width, and epilaryngeal outlet. On the other hand, belting differed from dysphonia (in addition to higher pitch) by a wider lip and jaw opening, and larger volumes of the oral cavity.


      Belting takes advantage of “megaphone shape” of the vocal tract. Future studies should focus on modeling and simulation to address sound energy transfer. Also, they should consider aerodynamic variables and vocal fold vibration to evaluate the “price of decibels” in these phonation types.

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