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Vocal Dose and Vocal Demands in Contemporary Musical Theatre

  • Author Footnotes
    a All authors equally contributed to this study
    Ana Flavia Zuim
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence and reprint requests to Ana Flavia Zuim, New York University, 35 West 4th Office #977, New York, NY 10003
    Footnotes
    a All authors equally contributed to this study
    Affiliations
    Steinhardt School, Music and Performing Arts Professions, New York University, New York City, New York
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  • Author Footnotes
    a All authors equally contributed to this study
    Celia F. Stewart
    Footnotes
    a All authors equally contributed to this study
    Affiliations
    Steinhardt School, Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, New York University, New York City, New York
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  • Author Footnotes
    a All authors equally contributed to this study
    Ingo R. Titze
    Footnotes
    a All authors equally contributed to this study
    Affiliations
    National Center for Voice and Speech, The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
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  • Author Footnotes
    a All authors equally contributed to this study
Published:October 04, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvoice.2021.08.006

      Summary

      Objective

      To document and quantify vocal dose and student-singers' self-assessment during rehearsals for a contemporary musical theater production.

      Methods/Design

      Six student singers fastened the sensor from the KayPentax APM 3200 dosimeter to the lower neck to capture neck vibration data during their preparation for the musical Wonderland by Frank Wildhorn. Data were collected during 8-hour periods, at four different stages throughout the rehearsal process: beginning (music and choreography learning phase), middle (staging phase), and end (running the entire show/dress rehearsal phase), plus a post-production day once the production had concluded to establish a baseline vocal load. Students concurrently completed the EASE questionnaire
      • Phyland D
      • Pallant J
      • Benninger M
      • et al.
      Development and preliminary validation of the EASE: a tool to measure perceived singing voice function.
      after each data collection day.

      Results

      The EASE score (Appendix 1) and demographics/perceptual questionnaire (Appendix 2) revealed that all subjects (three males and three females) found the singing role vocally and physically demanding but only two found the roles to be emotionally challenging. The musical score demanded a higher usage of chest register (judged perceptually) than mixed register from lead singers. All subjects’ maximum fundamental frequency range exceeded the pitch range required by the score. The mean daily vibration dose (distance dose, as computed with Kay Pentax Software) of the three individual female singers' during rehearsals, 5,203 meters, was higher than the mean daily dose of the three male singers, 3,766 meters. The subjects' self-ratings on the EASE were not correlated with the distance dose.

      Conclusions

      A review of Wonderland's score and perceptual judgment of the singers’ performances revealed extensive use of chest register, with belting and mix vocal strategies being the predominant stylistic choices. Students described the singing roles’ vocal and physical requirements as more challenging than the character's emotional components. This pilot study provides information on the vocal dose for lead and ensemble singers in rehearsal for a Contemporary Musical Theatre production. Singers and voice professionals may find dosimetry a valuable tool for monitoring the vocal dose during rehearsals and performances.

      Key Words

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