– I started researching the singing voice 56 years ago; just over half a century ago, and not finished yet.
Prof. Johan Sundberg,
professor of Music Acoustics at KTH Stockholm (Royal Institute of Technology) 1979 – 2001. After his doctoral dissertation on organ pipe acoustics in 1966, he turned to acoustical aspects of music, his main research topics being singing voice and the theory of music performance.
His analyses of male operatic singer voices have shown that the singer’s formant cluster greatly enhances solo singers’ voices and can be explained as a resonance phenomenon in the vocal tract.
His analyses of female singers revealed that they widen the vocal tract constriction and the jaw opening in order to avoid the pitch frequency becoming higher than the lowest vocal tract resonance, the first formant.
His analyses of the pulsating glottal airflow produced by the vocal fold vibrations have shown how breathing pressure and glottal adduction affect the voice characteristics of loudness and timbre. Thereby, he identified a special type of phonation, flow phonation, which is produced with the lowest degree of glottal adduction that generates vocal fold closing during the glottal vibration cycle.
His analysis-by-synthesis of singing and music performance has revealed a number of performance principles, such as markers of melodic structure, emphasis, and different effects.
He has published more than 350 research articles in scientific journals. In the book The Science of the Singing Voice (Swedish Röstlära, translated into English, German, Portuguese and Japanese) he summarizes the physiological, acoustical, and expressive aspects of voice production. He has also written a book on the acoustic aspects of musical sounds (The Science of Musical Sounds, 1991) and has been the organizer and editor/co-editor of numerous proceedings.
Although there are numerous books dealing with the science and acoustics of speech, there are relatively few that deal with the singing voice as distinct from the speaking voice.
Now, Johan Sundberg’s The Science of the Singing Voice — illustrated with over a hundred instructive and significant diagrams and drawings — thoroughly describes the structure and functions of the vocal organs in singing, from the aerodynamics of respiration through the dynamics of articulation.