Common terminology and acoustic measures for human voice and birdsong

Areen Badwal, Johanna Poertner, Robin A. Samlan, Julie E. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: The zebra finch is used as a model to study the neural circuitry of auditory-guided human vocal production. The terminology of birdsong production and acoustic analysis, however, differs from human voice production, making it difficult for voice researchers of either species to navigate the literature from the other. The purpose of this research note is to identify common terminology and measures to better compare information across species. Method: Terminology used in the birdsong literature will be mapped onto terminology used in the human voice production literature. Measures typically used to quantify the percepts of pitch, loudness, and quality will be described. Measures common to the literature in both species will be made from the songs of 3 middle-age birds using Praat and Song Analysis Pro. Two measures, cepstral peak prominence (CPP) and Wiener entropy (WE), will be compared to determine if they provide similar information. Results: Similarities and differences in terminology and acoustic analyses are presented. A core set of measures including frequency, frequency variability within a syllable, intensity, CPP, and WE are proposed for future studies. CPP and WE are related yet provide unique information about the syllable structure. Conclusions: Using a core set of measures familiar to both human voice and birdsong researchers, along with both CPP and WE, will allow characterization of similarities and differences among birds. Standard terminology and measures will improve accessibility of the birdsong literature to human voice researchers and vice versa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-69
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


Dive into the research topics of 'Common terminology and acoustic measures for human voice and birdsong'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this