Effects of the Menstrual Cycle and Oral Contraception on Singers' Pitch Control Purpose: Difficulties with intonation and vibrato control during the menstrual cycle have been reported by singers; however, this phenomenon has not yet been systematically investigated.Method: A double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial assessing effects of the menstrual cycle and use of a combined oral contraceptive pill (OCP) on pitch control ... Article
Article  |   February 2012
Effects of the Menstrual Cycle and Oral Contraception on Singers' Pitch Control
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Filipa M. B. Lã
    University of Aveiro, INET-MD, Portugal
    University of Aveiro, INET-MD, Portugal
  • Johan Sundberg
    School of Computer Science and Communication, KTH, Stockholm, Sweden
    School of Computer Science and Communication, KTH, Stockholm, Sweden
  • David M. Howard
    University of York, United Kingdom
    University of York, United Kingdom
  • Pedro Sa-Couto
    Center for Research and Development in Mathematics and Applications (CIDMA), University of Aveiro, Portugal
    Center for Research and Development in Mathematics and Applications (CIDMA), University of Aveiro, Portugal
  • Adelaide Freitas
    Center for Research and Development in Mathematics and Applications (CIDMA), University of Aveiro, Portugal
    Center for Research and Development in Mathematics and Applications (CIDMA), University of Aveiro, Portugal
  • Correspondence to Filipa M. B. Lã: filipa.la@ua.pt
  • Editor: Anne Smith
    Editor: Anne Smith×
  • Associate Editor: Lesley Mathieson
    Associate Editor: Lesley Mathieson×
  • © 2012 American Speech-Language-Hearing AssociationAmerican Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech
Article   |   February 2012
Effects of the Menstrual Cycle and Oral Contraception on Singers' Pitch Control
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2012, Vol. 55, 247-261. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0348)
History: Received December 12, 2010 , Accepted May 22, 2011
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2012, Vol. 55, 247-261. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0348)
History: Received December 12, 2010; Accepted May 22, 2011

Purpose: Difficulties with intonation and vibrato control during the menstrual cycle have been reported by singers; however, this phenomenon has not yet been systematically investigated.

Method: A double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial assessing effects of the menstrual cycle and use of a combined oral contraceptive pill (OCP) on pitch control in singing is presented. Audio-electrolaryngograph recordings were made and blood samples were taken from 9 singers in each of the 3 phases of the menstrual cycle both under the placebo and the OCP conditions for a total of 6 months. Participants sang an exercise consisting of an ascending octave followed by a descending major triad, starting on pitches F4 and B4. Pitch control was assessed in terms of the octave’s deviations from pure intonation and of the vibrato rate and extent.

Results: Significant differences were found between the 3 phases of the cycle regarding octave size only for pitch F5 during OCP use. Significant vibrato rate differences between placebo and OCP conditions were found only for pitch F5.

Conclusion: OCP use may have an effect on pitch control in singers. Possible explanations point to a complex interaction between hormonal milieu and pitch control, enhancing the need for longitudinal studies.

Acknowledgments
The first author is indebted to all those who contributed to her doctoral dissertation, which provided the data for the present work, especially all participants, who so willingly practiced, recorded, and gave blood samples; her supervisors, for the immeasurable support and scientific guidance; Schering Health Ltd, United Kingdom; and the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), in Portugal, which financially supported the first author’s doctoral studies. The fourth and fifth authors also acknowledge FCT for their financial support through the Center for Research and Development in Mathematics and Applications, University of Aveiro, Portugal.
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