Research Parameters

In voice research done on singers to determine vocal function while singing, it is IMPERATIVE that the singing being studied be excellent. It is IMPERATIVE that it represent market standard sounds and that the examples reflect those of others who are out in the world working as singers in any given style.

If I am researching opera singers and the people I select as my subjects sing in the local church choir in a small town, or sing in the university choir as undergrad students, they may get paid, as that is what we usually use as criteria for “professional”, but that doesn’t mean that their level of ability reflects that of  the singers at the Met, La Scala, Covent Garden or at the Bolshoi. If I have subjects who have had leads in a local musical or the community theater production and get some kind of pay for their time, does that mean they sound like the people on Broadway or in the West End or in Sydney? Maybe, but maybe not.

Singers with 20, 25, 30 or more years of life experience in any one style, who have worked in large venues in front of audiences paying a lot of money for their tickets, represent “professional” singers and would be both worthy and valuable subjects for voice science study.

Sadly, no one is checking the quality of the vocal examples used in voice research anywhere in the world. We are left to the judgement of the individuals doing the study and their discernment of market expectations in terms of evaluating the sung examples. That is not new.

It has been my experience over the decades since the late 1970s when I first became exposed to voice science that a large percentage of the research on singing is done on college students and faculty and those who perform in small venues in local area theaters or concert halls. There is no one to scrutinize the sounds themselves. Research is evaluated in peer review journals based on the statistics alone. It is based on what is on the page as written word or numbers.

Is this a good thing? What do you think?

If you read research that says “this person was belting” or “we found that this belt was not TA dominant” you need to HEAR the sound in order to decide if the person drawing the conclusion was able to tell one sound from another, based entirely ON THE MARKETPLACE. Otherwise, the “research” is very skewed, it isn’t helpful or even accurate.

Be very careful out there, folks, with what you read and how it is presented. If you can’t hear the sounds as they were made by the subjects, no matter what the research presents, be suspicious. If it don’t sound the way it ought to sound, it ain’t no good. Period.

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One thought on “Research Parameters”

  1. Hi, Jeanie.

    I totally agree. And something to think about and chew on as I go down this research road….

    Fascinating. I had no idea.



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