Velopharyngeal Port Status During Classical Singing

Tanner, Kristine; Roy, Nelson; Merrill, Ray M.; Power, David
December 2005
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Dec2005, Vol. 48 Issue 6, p1311
Academic Journal
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.


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