Research Article| Volume 37, ISSUE 3, P339-347, May 2023

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Effects of Nasalization on Vocal Tract Response Curve

  • Miriam Havel
    Address correspondence & reprint requests to: Miriam Havel, Division of Phoniatrics and Pediatric Audiology, Dept. of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Munich University Hospital (LMU), Marchioninistr. 15, D-81377 Munich, Germany
    Division of Phoniatrics and Pediatric Audiology, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Munich University Hospital (LMU), Munich, Germany
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  • Johan Sundberg
    Dept. of Speech Music Hearing, School of Computer Science and Communication, KTH (Royal Institute of Technology) Stockholm, Sweden

    Dept. of Linguistics, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

    University College of Music Education Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden
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  • Louisa Traser
    Institute of Musicians' Medicine, Medical Center - University of Freiburg, Germany
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  • Michael Burdumy
    Dept. of Radiology, Medical Physics, Medical Center - University of Freiburg, Germany
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  • Matthias Echternach
    Division of Phoniatrics and Pediatric Audiology, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Munich University Hospital (LMU), Munich, Germany
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      Earlier studies have shown that nasalization affects the radiated spectrum by modifying the vocal tract transfer function in a complex manner.


      Here we study this phenomenon by measuring sine-sweep response of 3-D models of the vowels /u, a, ᴂ, i/, derived from volumetric MR imaging, coupled by means of tubes of different lengths and diameters to a 3-D model of a nasal tract.


      The coupling introduced a dip into the vocal tract transfer function. The dip frequency was close to the main resonance of the nasal tract, a result in agreement with the Fujimura & Lindqvist in vivo sweep tone measurements [Fujimura & Lindqvist, 1972]. With increasing size of the coupling tube the depth of the dip increased and the first formant peak either changed in frequency or was split by the dip. Only marginal effects were observed of the paranasal sinuses. For certain coupling tube sizes, the spectrum balance was changed, boosting the formant peaks in the 2 – 4 kHz range.


      A velopharyngeal opening introduces a dip in the transfer function at the main resonance of the nasal tract. Its depth increases with the area of the opening and its frequency rises in some vowels.

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