Page:1 ,van 6 Standard Protocol Phonetogram VRP Recording, Voice Profiler users Group, Copyright P.Pabon STANDARD PROTOCOL 188.8.131.52 Protocol Recording Standard Phonetogram The phonetogram is typically recorded using the vowel /a/ while phonating in a standing position. The benefit of using this vowel is that very little is concealed. Every impurity of the voice is exposed. It is not the aim in phonetogram recording to measure the most beautiful tones only, but to find the physiological extremes. The recommendation to use the vowel /a/ follows the international standard for phonetogram recording. A step by step outline to record a phonetogram 184.108.40.206 Soft using an easy pitch Start with letting the client sing a vowel /a/ at an easy self-chosen pitch. 220.127.116.11 Raise the pitch while staying soft The most common effect of voice problems is the inability to sustain a soft tone. This makes the lower threshold the most important phonetogram parameter. So do not be afraid of spending time determining the absolute minimum value. From the pervious easy tone ask the client to sing as soft as possible. Do not move on to record louder sounds yet (this is in contrary to the instruction for the old manual protocol). Let the client sing soft and change the pitch for instance using a gliding tone. This will sketch a bottom line that is not yet the lowest extreme. The softest phonation with the lowest levels only shows when the pitch is kept stable. Let the client start a phonation at a self- chosen pitch and search for a local minimum using the visual feedback. Often an even lower bottom level is found when the client is assured that the tone does not need to be clear and the tone tends to become breathy. Do not worry, you will see that a breathy voice will get more clear later on, given some practice time. The bottom line ought to incline/slant: When the vocal pitch is raised it will become more difficult to sustain a low sound level. Most clients do not know that this is the usual condition and try to get to the same bottom levels as with their easy low-pitched tones. Assure them that this is a normal behaviour of the voice; singing higher means also not being able to sing that soft anymore. Suddenly the voice is unable to sing soft when the pitch is raised: The softest phonation is found in the bottom octave of the range. The moment that a voice can not sing that soft anymore can appear very sudden, often to a clients surprise. Assure the client this is a normal situation, for an optimal performance each reassurance will help. Singing high and soft can be very straining: At this phase of the recording, Page:2 ,van 6 Standard Protocol Phonetogram VRP Recording, Voice Profiler users Group, Copyright P.Pabon the softest levels for the higher tones do not have to be set. This part of the task can later be completed when the client’s voice is warmed up. Then there will be a better alteration between relaxation and strain. Sometimes the task to sing high and soft is the most stressful task in the recording, even more straining then singing loud. The general advice is to always use your professional experience to judge how your client is doing. At extreme conditions this is more important then following the book! Sometimes it is important to take a small break and do some alternative vocal exercises before returning to the task at hand. 18.104.22.168 Recording the bottom octave: finding the lowest tone Once a line is sketched of the bottom/threshold levels of the voice, direct the attention to the task of finding the lowest tone in the range. When a client is asked to sing as low as possible, often a very pressed phonation will be the result. You will see that the jittered quality will make the cursor jump back and forth on the screen and sometimes leave no trace. In general, a better result at a lower pitch is produced with the simple instruction to start yawning and to lower the voice while extending/gliding the yawn downward. This instruction will also help to take away any tension. 22.214.171.124 Recording the bottom octave: singing loud The bottom octave is also the area that overlaps with the area of the speaking voice. Always try to fill the inner area of the phonetogram in this part of the range. It is also the area where the chest voice starts. Let your client sing louder and louder using swell-tones/crescendos. It is unavoidable that the pitch is raised together with the sound level (see also the intermezzo at the next paragraph). Of course it is more systematic to make crescendos using a tone- by-tone order, but in practice the phonetogram is more naturally filled using phonations where level and pitch are raised together. The voice paints the area in lines that are sloping upward. Central chest voice area: The use of swell tones is the most reliable method to find the highest extremes for a certain pitch. To check if the level found is really the loudest tone, instruct your client to turn away from the screen or close their eyes and sing the same tone again as loud as possible. Also check the clients standing position; some are bending to the right to get the screen cursor to the right. The overshadowing of the visual feedback system over the aural feedback system can be very strong. Diverted from the visual task there is again more room to monitor breath, position, and voice quality. Although it may often occur that your computer acts as a person that has a life of it own, as an instructor, stay with your attention closer to the client then to the screen. Page:3 ,van 6 Standard Protocol Phonetogram VRP Recording, Voice Profiler users Group, Copyright P.Pabon Intermezzo: To get a full idea of the total area in the phonetogram that is covered by the chest voice, it is important to differentiate between the two main singing techniques that there are to fill the phonetogram: Gliding tones or glissandi: The pitch changes fluently (glides) from high to low or low to high, a horizontal movement through the phonetogram or Swell-tones or crescendos and decrescendos: the voice starts soft and gets louder, or starts loud and gets softer while the pitch is kept constant; a vertical movement in the phonetogram plane. These are two opposite poles in the movements that the voice makes in the phonetogram. In most cases the voice moves in an upward slanting direction that is physiologically the most straightforward manner. Both pitch and level (co-)vary at the same time. For finding the extremes it makes a large difference which method; (A) gliding tones or (B) swell tones, is chosen. It is already mentioned that for finding the threshold of phonation, the bottom level, decrescendos (keeping constant pitch) will produce the lowest findings. Swell tones are also the first option to find the highest sound levels, but they are not necessarily the best alternative at the far ends of the pitch range! The ability to keep a certain pitch while increasing the sound level (sing louder while staying at the same pitch) is a skill that varies largely in between clients (a matter of training). Within on voice there can be large individual differences in the ability to keep a stable pitch. It depends on the familiarity with the register and varies over the range. Often the concealed cause for the fact that your client came to visit you was because of unawareness of their own voice. As an instructor you have to anticipate on the clients ability to control their voice. Some guidelines can be given: • At the lowest tones in chest voice it will be difficult for any singer, normal voice or voice patient, to stay at a given pitch while making the tone louder. Keeping a constant pitch at the bottom of the tonal range is always difficult. • In the middle part of the chest voice range it is generally no problem to sustain a tone at a given pitch. Therefore, a crescendo is the best option here to record the maximum sound level. • The highest and loudest tones within a given register are reached by letting go of the constraint to keep a constant pitch. The best extremes are found with a combination of a loud voice onset together with a fast glide upward in pitch that ends in a sustain on the final tone reached. The highest tones in chest voice are found around 1.5 octaves above the lowest tones in this register. The highest tones in chest register are not the highest tones in the vocal range. On top of the tonal range there is always the falsetto or head register that starts at pitches that are also covered by singing at the top of the chest voice range. There is always an area where the two registers overlap. To efficiently guide your clients through this register transition area, it is important as an instructor to be aware of the following: Page:4 ,van 6 Standard Protocol Phonetogram VRP Recording, Voice Profiler users Group, Copyright P.Pabon A special mechanism: Voice onset and register: the vocal fold vibration knows two basic vibration modes that each coincide with one specific register: modal (chest) and falsetto (head). The voice has the tendency to stick to the vibration mode (register) that it is currently in. At voice onset the client chooses (often unconsciously) for one of the two modes. In the phonation following the voice onset, later variations in pitch and level will change the length of the vibration cycle and also the amplitude of the vibration. The basic vibration pattern, the vibration mode, remains the mode that was chosen for at voice onset! Only with a lot of extra effort can the voice be brought to switch to the other mode (a voice break). There is one other option to change the vibration mode while phonating, that is to drastically lower the amplitude of vibration (a severe drop in the level). The louder you sing, the more you lock to a mode. At low pitch setting every vibration automatically starts in chest voice mode (modal register). In the high pitch setting the voice will automatically start in falsetto register only. In the middle of the range, the voice will choose for one of the two modes, either a voice onset in chest voice, or a voice onset in falsetto. Which of the two is chosen largely depends on the sound level at the voice onset. With a loud voice onset the vibration starts in chest/modal voice, with a soft voice onset the choice of mode is automatically for falsetto. Voice onsets at intermediate levels may result in either of the two, which makes this part of the range a very ambiguous area for both singers and non-singers. It is not possible to specify distinct frequencies and levels at which a voice will always choose for one of the two modes. The typical settings for that voice will appear while making the recording. To record the largest phonetogram area for one voice, it is essential for the instructor to be aware of the phenomenon sketched above. If only soft onsets are made, a large part of the modal register will not be recorded due to a too early transition to falsetto voice. Be particularly aware of the sound level at voice onset, especially in the middle of the range. It is an important transient cue that is to be spotted when it happens. 126.96.36.199 Highest and loudest tones in chest/modal voice Try to go up in pitch tone-by-tone and try to stay in chest/modal register. Let the client make loud voice onsets (see intermezzo). With this you set the condition that the voice stays in chest/modal register. This will become more and more difficult when the pitch goes up. Voice onsets have to be made louder and louder to guarantee that the voice will stay in chest/modal register. A too soft voice onset will bring up falsetto voice, and you will immediately see that the maximum level reached with this falsetto quality will now be much lower. Once in falsetto the voice will tend to glide upwards to a pitch one octave higher, where in the end again high sound levels can be reached (the upper contour will show a clear dip in between these falsetto extremes and the ones found for chest/modal voice). Remember you were recording modal/chest voice, return by instructing the client to start at a very low pitch and to make a loud onset. Let the client make a glide upward while staying in chest/modal register (do not attempt to keep a constant pitch anymore). A combined increase in pitch and level is physiologically the easiest way. Let the client Page:5 ,van 6 Standard Protocol Phonetogram VRP Recording, Voice Profiler users Group, Copyright P.Pabon make a loud and low “shout” and hold the final tone. This singing technique, where the chest register is pushed upwards, is a very demanding technique. It could be damaging when done improperly by an untrained voice or when practiced when the voice is not completely warmed up. It could increase damage with pathologic voices. Trust your experience as an instructor, use your ears; you must sometimes restrain yourself and the client. The register transition: In the middle of the pitch range there is always a zone where a change in register has to be made. This transition can be accompanied by a clear dip in the upper contour or, as sometimes found with classical trained singing voices, the transition can be concealed by using mixed voice, a singing technique for register equalization. 188.8.131.52 Head-/falsetto register: soft onsets; tone-by-tone upwards, swell tones Before the chest/model voice area was completely mapped, you found that the clients voice already leaped to falsetto/head register. As mentioned earlier, the sound level of voice onset is an important cue for choosing the register. Instruct the client to start both high and at low sound level. Just as with the bottom of the chest voice, the tones in the bottom of falsetto range can never be produced very loud. The dynamic range is still very small and an increase in level will generally go together with an increase in pitch. Only at higher fundamental frequencies can the really loud tones be produced in the falsetto register. In modal/chest register the highest tones were also the loudest in that register, while the lowest tones in falsetto have the softest extremes. Due to this fact there will be a strong drop in the maximum levels reached at this transition point. This results in a dip in the upper contour. The dip can also be absent. A reason for this could be that a mixing technique is used or that the chest/modal voice is undeveloped. The upper contour of the phonetogram will slant upwards in a way that is comparable to the pattern seen with the modal/chest voice. This is a normal pattern. The highest tones in falsetto range: To get to the highest pitches in the range the best option is again to use a combination of gliding tones and swell tones. It will be more and more difficult to maintain a constant high pitch, or to make a swell tone at a constant pitch. More dynamic flexibility in pitch and level is needed to explore this high note area. Most females will not need any stimulation to get to this high register, male voices are often less aware of the capacities of their voice in this part of the range and need more coaching to get to the highest extremes in falsetto voice. 184.108.40.206 Finalize with high and soft This is often the most difficult assignment. Only let the client do this when the voice is warmed up. Especially with singers, the dynamics found at the highest tones is a distinctive marker in the classification their singing voice range/type. Page:6 ,van 6 Standard Protocol Phonetogram VRP Recording, Voice Profiler users Group, Copyright P.Pabon 220.127.116.11 Choice: fill the inner area yes or no? Within the first octave of the phonetogram range (the speaking voice area) the advice was to fill the inner area in. The choice to fill in the inside of the rest of the phonetogram depends on the purpose of the recording. Possible reasons to fill the inner area are: -You want to see the boundaries of the register within the phonetogram, or -With a pathologic voice you want to search for the area where the voicing is easy or where the voice sounds clear for the purpose of having a starting point to work from in therapy. Yelling is best defined as an uncontrolled phonation. Everyone can yell. Especially the untrained voice can in on yell reach very extreme sound level values. Often more loud then a trained singer, as a singer will be more prudent. With some patients or shy clients, a yell or calling is an effective opening to explore new possibilities for that voice, especially because the extreme levels reached with the call are visualized. This is clear proof of what this voice is capable off. This one time performance can be a stimulus to try to reach the same extreme in a more controlled fashion. There is no general agreement if this typical kind of yell-phonation should also be part of the phonetogram as there is a clear difference between the type of control needed for sustained phonation or for yelling. Sometimes a separate calling voice recording is made. [Ruffstimme in German] In the case that a certain phonetogram area is measured with a strange kind of singing technique or quality, it is wise to make a note of that in the report. Warning for overload and damage: It is remarkable what is revealed when you give strong commands especially with a phonetogram that was thought to already show the extremes. What should you do with very precise and/or competitive singers that meticulously want to fill every gap and that bend their body in all sorts of strange positions to reach that one spot and thereby strain their voice? Or untrained clients that seem to have no internal restrain and just force their voice upwards. The instructor has to take responsibility here. Take care that the client warms up the voice and keep listening! Estimate what is appropriate for the given task. PROTOCOL SUMMARY -Soft using an easy pitch -Raise the pitch while staying soft -Recording the bottom octave: finding the lowest tone -Recording the bottom octave: singing loud -Highest and loudest tones in chest/modal voice -Head-/falsetto register: soft onsets; tone-by-tone upward, swell tone -Finalize with high and soft -Choice: fill the inner area yes or no?
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