The relationship of vocal tract shape to three voice qualities

Brad H. Story, Ingo R. Titze, Eric A. Hoffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Three-dimensional vocal tract shapes and consequent area functions representing the vowels [i, æ, a, u] have been obtained from one male and one female speaker using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The two speakers were trained vocal performers and both were adept at manipulation of vocal tract shape to alter voice quality. Each vowel was performed three times, each with one of the three voice qualities: normal, yawny, and twangy. The purpose of the study was to determine some ways in which the vocal tract shape can be manipulated to alter voice quality while retaining a desired phonetic quality. To summarize any overall tract shaping tendencies mean area functions were subsequently computed across the four vowels produced within each specific voice quality. Relative to normal speech, both the vowel area functions and mean area functions showed, in general, that the oral cavity is widened and tract length increased for the yawny productions. The twangy vowels were characterized by shortened tract length, widened lip opening, and a slightly constricted oral cavity. The resulting acoustic characteristics of these articulatory alterations consisted of the first two formants (F1 and F2) being close together for all yawny vowels and far apart for all the twangy vowels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1651-1667
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


Dive into the research topics of 'The relationship of vocal tract shape to three voice qualities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this