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Jesús Zorrilla Ruiz
Clínica Universidad de Navarra
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Clínica Universidad de Navarra


Understanding the voice mechanisms of sopranos

“The analysis of aerodynamic parameters enables an understanding of the physiological bases of the voice mechanisms in classical and lyrical soprano singers”. This is the conclusion of the PhD thesis undertaken by Dr. María Uzcanga whose research work was carried out in the Voice Laboratory at the Navarre University Hospital.

The work analysed the singing of 19 classical and light classical soprano singers with the aim of determining the physiological mechanisms employed for the emission of the sung voice. The study concentrated on medium, high and very high voice frequencies as well as pasaggio ones and on changes in register by which one voice mechanism or other is modified. To this end, the sopranos were asked to emit notes using previously established exercises.

Understanding the voice mechanisms of sopranos

It has involved one of the first studies analysing, from an aerodynamic perspective, the physiological mechanisms involved in the voice of classical soprano singers. The aerodynamic parameters registered were the phonatory flow and the pressure of the air passing through the vocal chords while singing at certain frequencies and intensities. This work succeeded in characterising the physiological mechanisms for each type of register, especially the very high frequency one.


One of the unique aspects of this work is that it provides very complete information about the voice registers used by opera sopranos when singing, especially the very high voice registers, which have been very little known up to know. Moreover, it has been shown that the methodology employed therein is efficacious and non-invasive, a fact that could be very useful for singing teachers regarding the functioning of voice mechanisms. This is not a tool for learning to sing well but for understanding those elements of the vocal organ that have to be worked on for each register. In this way one avoids the incorrect use of the voice that can result in lesions of the voice box and chords.

According to ear, nose and throat specialists, this work has enabled the routine and simultaneous application of acoustic and aerodynamic analysis of procedures employed for the diagnosis and treatment of voice disorders in the study of physiology and physiopathology of the singing voice.

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