Effect of Historical Recordings on Vibrato

Welcome back to Voice Science Abridged. Today we are looking a study by Joshua D. Glasner and Aaron M. Johnson on the Effects of Historical Recording Technology on Vibrato in Modern-Day Opera Singers. This study was published in the July 2022 Journal of Voice.

According to various writings the rate and extent of vibrato has changed in opera singers over the last hundred and twenty years. However, the extent of the change may be effected by the historic audio recording technology. Glasner and Aaron set out to document this effect by recording twenty professional opera singers using modern recording technology and a Edison Home Phonograph using an accurately manufactured wax cylinder simultaneously. All twenty singers sang into the phonograph horn and microphone from 40 cm, singing messa di voce three times on the vowel /a/ at C4 for male singers and C5 for female sings.

Glasner and Johnson measured the vibrato rate, extent, jitter, and shimmer. In their analysis they found that the vibrato rate was consistent for both modern and historic recordings. There was a just noticeable difference in the vibrato extent, and an increase in jitter and shimmer on the wax cylinder recording. Because of this historic recording can be considered accurate if played at the correct rotating speed but extent, jitter, and shimmer are likely inaccurate.  This does confirm that vibrato rates have slowed over the past century.

If you have enjoyed this research summary please do check out the full paper in the Journal of Voice.

Josh Manuel

Josh Manuel, a voice instructor and founder of VoiceScience, is dedicated to empowering singers by providing evidence-based techniques and knowledge for enhanced performance and vocal health. His expertise and passion in the field of vocal science have made him a trusted resource for singers seeking to improve their skills and achieve their full potential.

Our goal at VoSci is to provide the most accurate and up to date information available on the internet for singers and teachers. While we strive for perfection, there is a lot of misinformation available and new information that becomes available every day. If you find information on this page or any page on VoSci that you believe is out of date please let us know using our contact form so we can look into it.