The Vocal Tract in Loud Twang-Like Singing While Producing High and Low Pitches

Marcelo Saldías*, Anne Maria Laukkanen, Marco Guzmán, Gonzalo Miranda, Justin Stoney, Paavo Alku, Johan Sundberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Twang-like vocal qualities have been related to a megaphone-like shape of the vocal tract (epilaryngeal tube and pharyngeal narrowing, and a wider mouth opening), low-frequency spectral changes, and tighter and/or increased vocal fold adduction. Previous studies have focused mainly on loud and high-pitched singing, comfortable low-pitched spoken vowels, or are based on modeling and simulation. There is no data available related to twang-like voices in loud, low-pitched singing. Purpose: This study investigates the possible contribution of the lower and upper vocal tract configurations during loud twang-like singing on high and low pitches in a real subject. Methods: One male contemporary commercial music singer produced a sustained vowel [a:] in his habitual speaking pitch (B2) and loudness. The same vowel was also produced in a loud twang-like singing voice on high (G4) and low pitches (B2). Computerized tomography, acoustic analysis, inverse filtering, and audio-perceptual assessments were performed. Results: Both loud twang-like voices showed a megaphone-like shape of the vocal tract, being more notable on the low pitch. Also, low-frequency spectral changes, a peak of sound energy around 3 kHz and increased vocal fold adduction were found. Results agreed with audio-perceptual evaluation. Conclusions: Loud twang-like phonation seems to be mainly related to low-frequency spectral changes (under 2 kHz) and a more compact formant structure. Twang-like qualities seem to require different degrees of twang-related vocal tract adjustments while phonating in different pitches. A wider mouth opening, pharyngeal constriction, and epilaryngeal tube narrowing may be helpful strategies for maximum power transfer and improved vocal economy in loud contemporary commercial music singing and potentially in loud speech. Further studies should focus on vocal efficiency and vocal economy measurements using modeling and simulation, based on real-singers’ data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)807.e1-807.e23
JournalJournal of Voice
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Voice Foundation


  • Formant frequencies
  • Nonclassical singing
  • Physiology of singing
  • Vocal tract imaging
  • Voice source


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