Vocal Tract in Female Registers-A Dynamic Real-Time MRI Study

Matthias Echternach*, Johan Sundberg, Susan Arndt, Michael Markl, Martin Schumacher, Bernhard Richter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


The area of vocal registers is still unclarified. In a previous investigation, dynamic real-time magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which is able to produce up to 10 frames per second, was successfully applied for examinations of vocal tract modifications in register transitions in male singers. In the present study, the same MRI technique was used to study vocal tract shapes during four professional young sopranos' lower and upper register transitions. The subjects were asked to sing a scale on the vowel /a/ across their transitions. The transitions were acoustically identified by four raters. In neither of these transitions, clear vocal tract changes could be ascertained. However, substantial changes, that is, widening of the lips, opening of the jaw, elevation of the tongue dorsum, and continuous widening of the pharynx, were observed when the singers reached fundamental frequencies that were close to the frequency of the first formant of the vowel sung. These findings suggest that in these subjects register transition was not primarily the result of modifications of the vocal tract.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-139
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Voice
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Articulation
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Register
  • Voice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • LPN and LVN
  • Speech and Hearing


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