Acoustic Analysis of Voice in Habitual Phonation and Adhara Shruthi in Carnatic Classical Singers

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ACOUSTIC ANALYSIS OF VOICE IN HABITUAL PHONATION AND ADHARA SHRUTHI IN CARNATIC CLASSICAL SINGERS The term singing has been defined simply as producing musical tones by means of the voice (Vennard, 1962). Although definition appears to be fairly simple, the act of singing is much more involved and requires a variety of phonatory, articulatory and resonatory adjustments. Singing differs from speaking, quantitatively and qualitatively on some parameters like rhythm and melodic qualities (Luchsinger, 1965). In singing, vowels are modified by changing source and filter to produce a wider dynamic range. This enables to maintain a balance in loudness across phonemes and produce vocal timbers (Titze, 1989). It also allows shifts in formant frequencies and subtle adjustments in the timbre and vowel quality. This shift in formant frequencies/ articulatory adjustments leads to appearance of Singer’s formant (Fs). Singers formant is an exceptionally high spectrum envelope peak around 3 KHz in the vowel spectra of singers (Sundberg et al, 1995). This produces exciting ringing quality and gives an arresting “edge” to the voice. Indian classical singing is mainly classified as of two types namely, Carnatic and Hindustani style. In general, they have the same basis, being melodic and governed by rules of ‘raga’ and ‘taala’ structure. Carnatic style is art form of south India. The carnatic school claims to have maintained and developed and orthodox traditional while the Hindustani school is said to have experienced considerable changes and developments through the Moghul period up to the present time (Sambamurthi, 1982). In Indian classical music, each raga is composed of a different set of tones. Some have more notes in the lower and middle octaves while some have more in the higher octaves. While singing vocalist needs to be careful in selecting his ‘adharashruthi’ as the shruthi selected should enable them to comfortably cover all the notes in the raga as well as maintain a good appealing voice. Generally, our clinical observation indicates that many singers stabilize their ‘adhara shruthi’ at a slightly higher or lower frequency in relation to their natural fundamental frequency (habitual frequency). However, Chandra (2001) reported lower F0 values for ‘aadhara shruthi’ when compared to habitual phonation.

Need
Initiation into classical music, at least in our country, is generally done at a very young age (around 3 – 5 years). At that age children will not have a conscious option to select any particular level of ‘adhara shruthi’, and invariably are guided by their teacher. However, as the children continue their music lessons and are introduced to more ragas, they become aware of tonal structure of the ragas and the range they have to traverse up and down the scale. This may necessitate readjustment of their ‘adhara shruthi’ level. Chandra (2001) commented that F0 of habitual phonation and ‘adhara shruthi’ were same in singers with less than six years of training, but different in singers with more than six years of training. This indicates there is effect of years of singing experience on adjustment of adhara shruthi. At this point of time limited information is available about adjustments made by the vocalists with regard to ‘adhara shruthi’. Also there are no reports available about the comparison of voice quality of vocalists in their habitual phonation and ‘adhara shruthi’ as wrong pitch selection not only ruins the songs and music concert, but its continued use may ruin the singers voice too. Because inappropriate use of pitch for long time lead to changes in the physiological mechanism of the vocal folds which further may lead to development voice problems such as nodules and polyps. Further it will be interesting to see whether the number of years of training is a factor influencing their readjustment of ‘adhara shruthi’. Therefore, there is need of a study which compares voice related attributes in habitual...
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