A Nasoendoscopic Study of “Head Resonance” and “Imposto” in Classical Singing



      Classical singing pedagogy uses many concepts which lack precise definition and whose acoustic and physiologic correlates are unclear. This study focuses on the concepts “head resonance” and “imposto.”
      In singing guidebooks, head resonance has been described as causing vibratory sensations on the face and head, auditively it has been described as a bright color especially predominating in the higher pitch range.
      “Imposto” has been related to the sensation of “air flow” or “sympathetic resonance vibrations” on or over the upper bridge of nose, and it also has been pursued using a “closing mechanism of the upper respiratory track” (activation of nasalis muscle).

      Study Design

      Experimental cross-sectional study.


      Five subjects (three classical singers, one amateur singer, and a nonsinger) were investigated with nasofiberoscopy during phonation. The singers were instructed to sing [i:] on one comfortable self-chosen pitch in three ways: (1) without head resonance, (2) with head resonance, and (3) using imposto (exploiting the nasalis muscle). The nonsinger was investigated without phonation, while just holding his breath after inhalation first normally and then while producing imposto. The following measurements were made on the fiberoscopic images: (1) height of soft palate, (2) area of the hypopharynx, (3) area of the epilaryngeal tube inlet.


      The singers raised the soft palate and narrowed the epilaryngeal inlet during head resonance and even more during imposto. The pharynx to epilarynx ratio increased. Similar narrowing of the epilaryngeal tube inlet was observed in the nonsinger when constricting the nasalis,


      The results suggest that both the head resonance and imposto are related to control of the pharyngeal space and epilaryngeal tube, and that the nasal muscles may be used as an aid in regulating the epilaryngeal tube width, which in turn, improves the voice-source -tract interaction.

      Key Words

      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic and Personal


      Subscribe to Journal of Voice
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


      1. Glossary of singing terms. Available at: https://www.successfulsinging.com/singing-guides/glossary-of-singing-terms/. (Accessed March 25, 2020).

        • Howard E.
        Sing! The Vocal Power Method.
        Alfred music publishing, CA, USA2006
        • Mánén L.
        The Art of singing.
        Faber Music LTD, 1974
        • Koistinen M.
        Tunne Kehosi-Vapauta Aänesi, Äänitimpurin Käsikirja, [Feel Your Body – Free Your Voice], in Finnish.
        Sulasol, Finland2004
      2. What is Vocal Placement and How to Project Your Voice? Available at:https://www.becomesingers.com/techniques/vocal-placement. (Accessed March 25, 2020).

      3. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocal_resonation. (Accessed March 25, 2020).

      4. Vocal vocabulary. Available at: https://kafm.net/vocab.html. (Accessed March 25, 2020).

        • Bunch M.
        Dynamics of the Singing Voice.
        Springer Verlag, Wien1982: 97-99
        • Vennard W.
        An experiment to evaluate the importance of nasal resonance.
        Folia Phoniatrica. 1964; 16: 146-153https://doi.org/10.1159/000262995
        • Brown O.
        Discover Your Voice.
        Singular publishing group, San Diego1996 (ISBN 1-56593.704-X)
        • Borg K.
        Suomalainen Laulajanaapinen, [Finnish abc for Singers], in Finnish.
        Yhteiskirjapaino Oy, Helsinki1972
        • Allen J.
        Secrets of Singing. Female Low & High Voice.
        CPP/Belwin Inc, CA, USA1994 (0-7692-7805-1)
        • Nova M.
        • Collins P.
        Singing Bel Canto Art & Science.
        Compton publishing, Oxford, UK2014
        • Gates R.
        • Obert K.
        • Forrest A.
        The Owner's Manual to the Voice : A Guide for Singers and Other Professional Voice Users.
        Oxford University Press, New York2013
        • Gibian G.L.
        Synthesis of sung vowels.
        Q Progs Rep (MIT). 1972; 104: 243-247
        • Sundberg J.
        Science of the Singing Voice.
        Northern Illinois University Press, Dekalb, Illinois1987: 119
        • Schutte H.K.
        • Miller R.
        Resonance balance in register categories of the singing voice: a spectral analysis study.
        Folia phoniatrica. 1984; 36: 289-295
        • Ekholm E.
        • C.Papagiannis G.
        • Chagnon F.P.
        Relating objective measurements to expert evaluation of voice quality in western classical singing: critical perceptual parameters.
        J Voice. 1998; 12: 182-196https://doi.org/10.1016/S0892-1997(98)80038-6
        • Titze I.R.
        Acoustic interpretation of resonant voice.
        J Voice. 2001; 15: 519-528https://doi.org/10.1016/S0892-1997(01)00052-2
        • Miller R.
        The structure of singing – system and art in vocal technique.
        Shirmer. 1996; : 118
        • Titze I.R.
        Principles of Voice Production.
        Prentice-Hall, Inc, Englewood Cliffs, NJ1994
        • Titze I.R.
        Bi-stable vocal fold adduction: a mechanism of modal-falsetto register shifts and mixed registration.
        J Acoust Soc Am. 2014; 2014: 2091https://doi.org/10.1121/1.4868355
        • Titze I.R.
        Voice training and therapy with a semi-occluded vocal tract: rationale and scientific underpinnings.
        J Speech Language Hear Res. 2006; 49: 448-459
        • Nix J.
        • Blake Simpson C.
        Semi-occluded vocal tract postures and their application in the singing voice studio.
        J Sing. 2008; 64: 339-342
        • Horacek J.
        • Vesely J.
        • Pesek L.
        • et al.
        Fundamental dynamic characteristics of human skull. Part I – experimental modal analysis and FE modelling of basic vibration properties.
        Eng Mech. 2004; 11: 139-158
        • Hoch M.
        A Dictionary for a Modern Singer.
        Scarecrow Press, 2014
        • Hemsley T.
        Singing and Imagination, A Human Approach to a Great Musical Tradition.
        Oxford university press, New York1998
      5. L. Manen, Bel Canto, The teaching of the classical Italian song-schools, it's decline and restoration, Oxford University Press, 1987.

        • Titze I.R.
        • Story B.
        Acoustic interactions of the voice source with the lower vocal tract.
        J Acoust Soc Am. 1997; 101 (doi: libproxy.tuni.fi/10.1121/1.418246): 2234-2243
        • Sundberg J.
        Articulatory interpretation of the singing formant.
        J Acoust Soc Am. 1974; 55: 838-844https://doi.org/10.1121/1.1914609
        • Brown W.S.
        Singer's formant in sopranos: fact or fiction?.
        J Voice. 2001; 15: 457-468https://doi.org/10.1016/S0892-1997(01)00046-7
        • Bloothooft G.
        • Plomp R.
        Spectral analysis of sung vowels. I. Variation due to differences between vowels, singers, and modes of singing.
        J Acoust Soc Am. 1984; 75: 1259-1264https://doi.org/10.1121/1.390732
      6. Rothenberg M., Cosi' Fan Tutte and what it means, or, nonlinear source-tract acoustic interaction in the soprano voice and some implications for the definition of vocal efficiency vocal fold physiology: laryngeal function in phonation and respiration (1986) 254-263.

        • Sundberg J.
        Formant technique in a professional female singer.
        Acustica. 1975; 32: 89-96
        • Cookman S.
        • deVore K.
        Inside the Singing Voice, Laryngeal Teaching Series. 4. Total Voice Inc., Chicago2006
        • Vampola T
        • Laukkanen A-M
        • Horácek J
        • et al.
        Vocal tract changes caused by phonation into a tube: a case study using computer tomography and finite-element modeling.
        J Acoust Soc Am. 2011; 129: 310-315https://doi.org/10.1121/1.3506347
        • Menon J.R.
        Flaring of ALA Nasi: a reliable diagnostic sign for abductor spasmodic dysphonia.
        Int J Phonosurg laryngol. 2011; 1: 41-43
        • Aura M.
        • Geneid A.
        • Bjørkøy K.
        • et al.
        The nasal musculature as a control panel for singing-why classical singers use a special facial expression?.
        J Voice. 2018; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvoice.2017.12.016