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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The effects of three singer gestures on acoustic and perceptual measures of singing in solo and choral contexts
by Brunkan, Melissa C., Ph.D., University of Kansas, 2012, 270; 3524106
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this two-part investigation was to assess the potential effects of three singer gestures (low, circular arm gesture; arched hand gesture; and pointing gesture) on performances of choral singers (N = 31; Experiment 1) and solo singers (N = 35; Experiment 2). Participants sang the melody of three familiar songs from memory on the neutral syllable "m/i/." Songs were chosen for similarities of range, tessitura, and ascending intervallic leaps. Each song was sung seven times: Baseline (without singer gesture), five iterations of each song paired with a singer gesture, and a posttest (without singer gesture).

Experiment 1 measured acoustic (long-term average spectra) and perceptual (pitch analysis, expert panel ratings, and participant perceptual questionnaire) differences in choral sound across conditions. Results indicated a significant increase in mean signal amplitude in sung gestural iterations with the low, circular gesture and pointing gesture. Intonation differences were significant between baseline and the low, circular gesture, baseline and posttest for the pointing gesture, and between the arched hand gesture and posttest. Expert panel ratings were highest during gestural conditions across song selections, and the majority of participants gave positive comments regarding use of gesture during choral singing.

Experiment 2 measured acoustic (Fo, amplitude, formant frequency) and perceptual (expert panel ratings and participant perceptual questionnaire) differences of solo singers. Major findings indicated acoustic changes in intonation, timbre, and relative amplitude. Solo singers were more in tune when singing with gestures. Both the low, circular and arched hand gestures changed singer timbre indicated by lowered formant frequencies for the majority of participants. When performing with the low, circular and the pointing gestures, singers sang with increased amplitude, whereas, the arched hand gesture led to decreased amplitude. Expert ratings were highest for the posttest of low circular gestures and arched hand gestures, and the gestural iterations of pointing. The majority of participant comments related to intonation and timbre when using gestures. Video recording analyses from both performance contexts indicated participants mastered the gestures within the first three iterations. Results were discussed in terms of singing pedagogy, limitations of the study, and suggestions for further research.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Daugherty, James F.
Commitee: Haaheim, Kip, Hedden, Debra, Johnson, Christopher M., Register, Dena M.
School: University of Kansas
Department: Music Education & Music Therapy
School Location: United States -- Kansas
Source: DAI-A 74/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Music education
Keywords: Choir, Gestures, Movement, Pitch, Singers, Singing, Solo
Publication Number: 3524106
ISBN: 978-1-267-58249-2
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