Velopharyngeal Port Status During Classical Singing Purpose: This investigation was undertaken to examine the status of the velopharyngeal (VP) port during classical singing. Method: Using aeromechanical instrumentation, nasal airflow (mL/s), oral pressure (cm H2O), and VP orifice area estimates (cm2) were studied in 10 classically trained sopranos during singing and speaking. Each participant sang and spoke ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 2005
Velopharyngeal Port Status During Classical Singing
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Kristine Tanner
    The University of Utah, Salt Lake City
  • Nelson Roy
    The University of Utah, Salt Lake City
  • Ray M. Merrill
    Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
  • David Power
    The University of Utah, Salt Lake City
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 2005
Velopharyngeal Port Status During Classical Singing
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2005, Vol. 48, 1311-1324. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2005/091)
History: Received September 27, 2004 , Revised March 3, 2005 , Accepted April 28, 2005
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2005, Vol. 48, 1311-1324. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2005/091)
History: Received September 27, 2004; Revised March 3, 2005; Accepted April 28, 2005
Web of Science® Times Cited: 2

Purpose: This investigation was undertaken to examine the status of the velopharyngeal (VP) port during classical singing.

Method: Using aeromechanical instrumentation, nasal airflow (mL/s), oral pressure (cm H2O), and VP orifice area estimates (cm2) were studied in 10 classically trained sopranos during singing and speaking. Each participant sang and spoke 3 nonsense words—/hampa/, /himpi/, and /humpu/—at 3 loudness levels (loud vs. comfortable vs. soft) and 3 pitches (high vs. comfortable vs. low), using a within-subject experimental design including all possible combinations.

Results: In general, nasal airflow, oral pressure, and VP area estimates were significantly greater for singing as compared to speech, and nasal airflow was observed during non-nasal sounds in all participants. Anticipatory nasal airflow was observed in 9 of 10 participants for singing and speaking and was significantly greater during the first vowel in /hampa/ versus /himpi/ and /humpu/. The effect of vowel height on nasal airflow was also significantly influenced by loudness and pitch.

Conclusions: The results from this investigation indicate that at least some trained singers experience regular VP opening during classical singing. Vowel height seems to influence this effect. Future research should consider the effects of voice type, gender, experience level, performance ability, and singing style on VP valving in singers.

Acknowledgments
We gratefully acknowledge the generous contributions of David J. Zajac, PhD, during the data analysis and interpretation phase of this study. We also thank Richard Lutz, A.A.S.E.E., for his kind assistance in operating the PERCI analysis system, as well as David L. Jones, PhD, and Johan Sundberg, PhD, for consulting during the preparation of this article. We also acknowledge the work of university students Kathleen George, Tara Jorgensen, and Chandra Richins, who assisted in data reduction and analysis, as well as the vocal music faculty at The University of Utah for their time and help with participant recruitment.
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