Research Article| Volume 33, ISSUE 5, P603-610, September 2019

The Effects of Stress Type, Vowel Identity, Baseline f0, and Loudness on the Relative Fundamental Frequency of Individuals With Healthy Voices

  • Yeonggwang Park
    Address correspondence and reprint requests to Yeonggwang Park, Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, Boston University, 677 Beacon St, 2nd floor, Boston, MA 02215.
    Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Cara E. Stepp
    Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts

    Department of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts

    Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts
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      Relative fundamental frequency (RFF) has been investigated as a possible acoustic measure to assess laryngeal tension. This study aimed to identify possible factors in RFF stimuli (stress type, vowel identity, baseline f0, and loudness) that might also affect RFF values.


      Fifteen speakers with healthy voices produced short RFF stimuli (vowel-/f/-vowel; eg, /ɑfɑ/) in different conditions. They produced the stimuli with three different stress types and four different vowels. Participants also produced stimuli in three different baseline f0 conditions and three different loudness conditions. The mean RFF and within- and between-subject standard deviation (SD) of RFF were estimated for each stimuli condition.


      Stress type had a statistically significant effect on RFF means and within-subject SDs with a large effect size (P < 0.001). A significant but small effect of vowel identity was observed: onset 1 RFF values from /ɑ/ were higher than onset 1 RFF values from /u/ (P < 0.01). Baseline f0 had a significant effect on RFF values with a medium effect size (P < 0.05). Loudness did not have any significant effect on RFF, but onset 1 RFF values produced with soft voice showed an unexpectedly high between-subject SD.


      This evidence suggests that stress type is the most important factor to consider in RFF measurement. We also conclude that RFF may be somewhat resistant to vowel variation and small differences in baseline f0 and loudness, which may be beneficial in clinical settings.

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