Research Article|Articles in Press

Listeners’ Perception of Vocal Effects During Singing

  • Cory M. Pinto
    Address correspondence and reprint requests to Cory Michael Pinto, 1515 Broad Street, Building B, 2nd Floor, Bloomfield, NJ 07003.
    Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Montclair State University, Bloomfield, NJ
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      Effective communication is a key feature of vocal music. Singers can communicate during singing by changing their voice qualities to express emotion. Varying acceptable standards are used by performers for voice quality secondary to musical genre. Types of voice qualities that are historically perceived as abusive by some teachers of singing (ToS) and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are vocal effects. This study investigates the perceptions of vocal effects in professional and nonprofessional listeners (NPLs).


      Participants (n = 100) completed an online survey. Participants were divided into four professional groups; Classical ToS, Contemporary ToS, SLPs, and NPLs. Participants completed an identification task to assess their ability to identify the use of a vocal effect. Secondly, participants analyzed a singer performing a vocal effect, rated their preferences towards the effect, and gave objective performance ratings using a Likert scale. Finally, participants were asked if they had concerns about the singer's voice. If the participant responded yes, they were asked who they would refer the singer to, a SLP, ToS or medical doctor (MD).


      Statistically significant differences were observed in SLPs ability to identify the use of vocal effects compared to classical ToS (P = 0.01), contemporary ToS (P = 0.001) as well as NPLs compared to contemporary ToS (P = 0.009). NPLs were reported to have a lesser rate of concern statistically compared to professional listeners (P = .006). Statically significant differences were found when comparing performance rating scores secondary to preference for the vocal effect when comparisons were larger than one Likert rating interval. With listeners giving higher performance ratings, if they reported higher preference ratings. Finally, no significant differences were identified when comparing referral scores secondary to occupation.


      Findings provide support for the presence of specific biases towards the use of vocal effects although no bias was found in management and care recommendations. Future research is recommended to investigate the nature of these biases.

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