Acoustic effects of variation in vocal effort by men, women and children  

Hartmut Traunmüller and Anders Eriksson

Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 107, 3438 - 3451 (2000)  


The acoustic effects of the adjustment in vocal effort that is required when the distance between a speaker and its addressee is varied over a large range (0.3 - 187.5 m) were investigated in phonated and, at the shorter distances, also in whisperd speech. Several characteristics were studied in the same sentence produced by men and women as well as by 7 year-old boys and girls: duration of vowels and consonants, occurrence and duration of creaky voice and pauses, mean and range of f0, certain formant frequencies (mean F3 in voiced segments and F1 in [a]), SPL of voiced segments and [s], and spectral emphasis. Vowel duration, F0, and F1 was substantially affected by variation in vocal effort, in addition to SPL and spectral emphasis, defined as the excess of SPL over the level in the spectral region below 1.5 F0 (mean). "Vocal effort" was defined as the communicational distance estimated by a group of listeners for each utterance. Most of the effects observed correlated better with this than with the actual distace. Reasons are discussed. Differences between speaker groups emerged in segment durations, pausing behaviour, and in the extent to which the SPL of fricatives was affected. The whispered versions are compared with the phonated versions produced by the same speakers at the same distance. Several effects of whispering are found to be similar to those of increasing vocal effort. An explanation is proposed.

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