Research Article| Volume 37, ISSUE 2, P301.e9-301.e25, March 2023

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Objective Measures of Two Musical Interpretations of an Excerpt From Berlioz's “La mort d'Ophélie”

  • Hiu Yan Crystal Lau
    M.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio
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  • Ronald C. Scherer
    Address correspondence and reprint requests to Ronald C. Scherer, 243 Health and Human Services Building, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43403.
    Distinguished Research Professor, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio
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Published:February 12, 2021DOI:



      This study aimed to determine objective production differences relative to two emotional interpretations in performing an excerpt from a classical art song. The null hypothesis was proposed.


      The first author recorded an excerpt from an art song. The excerpt was sung with two contrasting musical interpretations: an “empathetic legato” approach, and a “sarcastic” approach characterized by emphatic attacks. Microphone, airflow, and electroglottography signals were digitized. The vowels were analyzed in terms of intensity, long term average spectra, fundamental frequency (fo), airflow vibrato rate and extent, vowel onset slope, intensity comparison of harmonic frequencies, and glottal measures based on electroglottograph waveforms. Four consonant tokens were analyzed relative to airflow, voice onset time, and production duration.

      Results & Conclusions

      The emphatic performance had faster vowel onset, increased glottal adduction, increased intensity of harmonics in 2-3 kHz, increased intensity in the fourth and fifth formants, inferred subglottal pressure increase, increased airflow for /f/, and greater aspiration airflow for /p, t/. Vibrato extents for intensity, fo, and airflow were wider in the emphatic approach. Findings revealed larger EGGW25 and peak-to-peak amplitude values of the electroglottography waveform, suggesting greater vocal fold contact area and longer glottal closure for the emphatic approach. Long-term average spectrum analyses of the entire production displayed minor variation across all formant frequencies, suggesting an insignificant change in vocal tract shaping between the two approaches. This single-case objective study emphasizes the reality of physiological, aerodynamic, and acoustic production differences in the interpretive and pedagogical aspects of art song performance.

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