Visualizing the Voice

Today’s post is my way of sharing a few free resources, as well as introducing you to voice acoustics.  In 2008, Diana Spradling at the University of Western Michigan had me sing into a computer program that analyzed the frequencies of my sound.  I know now this is called a Spectrum Analyzer.  The ability to see my voice on the screen had such a profound impact, that I felt paralyzed with awe for a hot minute.

Yesterday at one of my “Meet and Geek” classes, we used a Spectrum Analyzer to demonstrate how the voice produces a fundamental frequency as well as a series of overtones for each pitch.  The brain synthesizes all of these pitches into one tone, creating the perception of someone singing a single note.  By manipulating the overtones, strengthening and weakening them, the voice takes on different timbrel qualities.  To see this in real time, the folks at Sygyt Software offer a free version of their Analyzer that you can download here:

Sygyt Software

Overtone Analyzer

This is the program (the free version) we used in class last night, and although limited in it’s capabilities, it can be used to show 10 seconds of sound, which is enough to introduce a spectrogram analysis to students and experiment with your own singing.  By the enthusiastic reaction of everyone at the ole’ meet n’ geek, it’s worth a look for your personal studio.

In order to understand vocal acoustics and how to apply the concepts in your teaching, you would be well served by reading Ken Bozeman’s Practical Vocal Acoustics.

Since time today is limited, and I’m not the ultimate authority, let me offer two YouTube videos by a freakishly talented Overtone Singer named Anna-Maria Hefele.  Notwithstanding her ability to sing two tones at the same time (think Tuvan throat singing), she provides visuals of how a sung note is comprised of the fundamental pitch and its overtones.

Don’t you love technology?  In one rather short video, you can learn how the voice produces depth of tone, as well as get a primer on acoustics.  Introducing Anna-Maria:

And, her video on polyphonic overtone singing – a general overview:

Lastly, I offer my favorite video on the diaphragm.  This video is short, sweet and too the point, and shows several views of this muscle in action.  One of my first questions to new clients is what they know about breathing.  If they don’t yet know how the diaphragm functions, this video saves hours of explanation.

That’s all for now.  I hope these resources make you go a little crazy.  In a good way.  #voicenerdsunite

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