Effect of Training and Level of External Auditory Feedback on the Singing Voice: Pitch Inaccuracy

Pasquale Bottalico, Simone Graetzer, Eric J. Hunter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background One of the most important aspects of singing is the control of fundamental frequency. Objectives The effects on pitch inaccuracy, defined as the distance in cents in equally tempered tuning between the reference note and the sung note, of the following conditions were evaluated: (1) level of external feedback, (2) tempo (slow or fast), (3) articulation (legato or staccato), (4) tessitura (low, medium, or high), and (5) semi-phrase direction (ascending or descending). Methods The subjects were 10 nonprofessional singers and 10 classically trained professional or semi-professional singers (10 men and 10 women). Subjects sang one octave and a fifth arpeggi with three different levels of external auditory feedback, two tempi, and two articulations (legato or staccato). Results It was observed that inaccuracy was greatest in the descending semi-phrase arpeggi produced at a fast tempo and with a staccato articulation, especially for nonprofessional singers. The magnitude of inaccuracy was also relatively large in the high tessitura relative to the low and the medium tessitura for such singers. Contrary to predictions, when external auditory feedback was strongly attenuated by the hearing protectors, nonprofessional singers showed greater pitch accuracy than in the other external feedback conditions. This finding indicates the importance of internal auditory feedback in pitch control. Conclusions With an increase in training, the singer's pitch inaccuracy decreases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122.e9-122.e16
JournalJournal of Voice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • external auditory feedback
  • internal auditory feedback
  • pitch accuracy
  • singing voice
  • voice training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Speech and Hearing
  • LPN and LVN


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