The Voice Range Profile - A Shortened Protocol Pilot Study

The Voice Range Profile - A Shortened Protocol Pilot Study, Ann Kolker Rychel & Miriam van Mersbergen. From the September 2023 edition of the Journal of Voice.

The Voice Range Profile has been a popular, but infrequently used, diagnostic tool to measure voice function for many decades. By mapping a singers minimum and maximum sound pressure level systematically across their entire vocal range. Singers, teachers, doctors, and scientists can better identify changes in an individuals voice. The duo notes that despite the valuable information available from a voice range profile they not widely used due to a lack of standardized process, normative data, and lack of clear documentation. It is worth noting that the required duration of a full voice range profile is another limiting factor. Time is the main focus of this study looking at the efficacy of a shortened protocol.

This study had 24 participants complete all protocols, 12 male and 12 female between the ages of 19 and 75. All of the participants were recruited from the Northern Illinois University Music Department and choirs in the surrounding area. All participants had previously participated in a minimum of two years of private voice lessons and were free from vocal disorders, pathologies, or obvious speaking dysphonia.

Data was collected during two separate sessions. During the first session participants warmed up using lip/tongue trills and glides before establishing a vocal range using ascending and descending arpeggios at a moderate speed and then by using ascending and descending semitones. Participants then sang through the standard voice range profile protocol singing at minimum intensity multiple times to record the lowest intensity, descending first to lowest pitch before ascending by semitone. The same protocol was followed for maximum intensity. On average the full testing protocol took 39.69 minutes for males for an average 82.75 semitones and 38.06 minutes for females with and average of 76.75 semitones.

Participants returned 1-3 weeks later for the shortened protocol. During the shortened protocol only the fifths and octaves were measured for both minimum and maximum; additional measurements were taken if a 7 dB or greater difference occurred. Men completed the shortened protocol in an average of 17.21 minutes with 30.83 semitones measured. Female singers averaged 16.38 minutes with 28.33 semitones measured. For semitones not measured the duo linearly interpolated the intensities and then averaged to generate an average voice range profile.

To compare the full protocol with the shortened protocol the team checked for measurements where the short protocol differed by more than 3 dB. They found 24% of sampling points were outside the 3 dB range for male minimum curve, 6% for male maximum, 9% for female minimum, and 5% for female maximum, noting that the differences occurred in extreme portions of the range or in the second passaggio.

More research on voice range profiles is needed for normative data. The duo does conclude that this shortened protocol is likely highly beneficial due to the shortened testing duration and simple equipment required.

Rychel, A.K., Van Mersbergen, M., 2023. The Voice Range Profile-A Shortened Protocol Pilot Study. Journal of Voice 37, 682–693.

Josh Manuel

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