Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Some Consensus Has Been Reached on the Labeling of Harmonics, Formants, and Resonances

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Some Consensus Has Been Reached on the Labeling of Harmonics, Formants, and Resonances

Article excerpt

A GROUP OF 22 VOICE PROFESSIONALS engaged in vigorous debate about symbolic notation and definitions in voice acoustics for a period of about two years. The group included singing teachers, speech-language pathologists, and voice scientists from the U.S., Europe, and Australia. A forum publication resulted in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America with all authors listed.1

The first recommendation was regarding the symbol for fundamental frequency. The symbol f^sub 0^ was agreed upon, written with a lower case f and a subscript "o," not "zero." The reason given was that a "zero" frequency does not fit into the harmonic series of the sound source. The fundamental frequency is the first harmonic, not the zero-th harmonic. The subscript "o" was appealing because it could signify "oscillation."

The second recommendation was to write all harmonics as multiples of f^sub 0^, namely f^sub 0^, 2f^sub 0^, 3f^sub 0^... nf^sub 0^. This recommendation makes future use of the symbol h or H totally superfluous. Consensus was somewhat difficult to reach on this issue because a significant number of papers and textbooks have been written with h and H labels for harmonics. In conjunction with the above frequency symbols, the amplitudes of harmonics are written as A^sub l^, A^sub 2^, A^sub 3^... A^sub n^. If they are converted to decibels, the relative dB levels of the harmonics are written as L^sub 1^, L^sub 2^, L^sub 3^... L^sub n^.

With regard to vocal tract resonance, much debate ensued about keeping a distinction between formants and resonances. Based on classical definitions, formants are peaks in the spectrum of the sound output from the mouth. They can be influenced by both the source and the filter (vocal tract). To the contrary, resonances of the vocal tract should (in principle) not contain source characteristics. …

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