Sunday, September 11, 2005

Breaking eardrums since 1979

One of the very cool things about my program is that we just got five new computers in our teaching lab, with up-to-date programs for measuring the human voice. As part of our lab on Thursday, we got to play around with the computers, measuring maximum phonation time, pitch and loudness ranges, average pitch and loudness, and so on and so forth. Being the guy who's the "professional voice user" (as Dr. Boliek calls me), I often get to put my vocal system to the test - which I really like because a) it's cool technology, and b) it's one of the few things I can take pride in without feeling prideful. We measured a number of statistics about our voices, and I thought I'd share mine.

1. Maximum Phonation Time (or, how long you can sustain an "ah" at a comfortable loudness): 43 seconds.
2. Pitch Range: 67 to 980 Hz. Since an octave is a doubling of frequency, that means that I have a 3.5 octave vocal range
, from the almost unhearable lows to the almost unlistenable highs. However, we suspected that this wasn't calibrated properly, so these values may not be entirely accurate.
3. Loudness Range: 56 to 89 dB. I didn't know we were supposed to whisper, so I should have been about 30 dB (soft human whisper) at the low end. 90 dB is equivalent to shouted conversation in a club, so my maximum loudness isn't that impressive. Besides, if I was to sustain that loudness for any period of time, I'd seriously damage my vocal folds. As well as a lot of people's ears.

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