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Concept: Opera


Classical music has been shown to reduce stress in kennelled dogs; however, rapid habituation of dogs to this form of auditory enrichment has also been demonstrated. The current study investigated the physiological and behavioural response of kennelled dogs (n=38) to medium-term (5days) auditory enrichment with five different genres of music including Soft Rock, Motown, Pop, Reggae and Classical, to determine whether increasing the variety of auditory stimulation reduces the level of habituation to auditory enrichment. Dogs were found to spend significantly more time lying and significantly less time standing when music was played, regardless of genre. There was no observable effect of music on barking, however, dogs were significantly (z=2.2, P<0.05) more likely to bark following cessation of auditory enrichment. Heart Rate Variability (HRV) was significantly higher, indicative of decreased stress, when dogs were played Soft Rock and Reggae, with a lesser effect observed when Motown, Pop and Classical genres were played. Relative to the silent period prior to auditory enrichment, urinary cortisol:creatanine (UCCR) valueswere significantly higher during Soft Rock (t=2.781, P<0.01) and the second silent control period following auditory enrichment (t=2.46, P<0.05). Despite the mixed response to different genres, the physiological and behavioural changes observed remained constant over the 5d of enrichment suggesting that the effect of habituation may be reduced by increasing the variety of auditory enrichment provided.

Concepts: Time, Rock music, Opera, Genre, Musical notation, Blues, Music genre, Jazz


Much of our enjoyment of music comes from its balance of predictability and surprise. Musical pitch fluctuations follow a 1/f power law that precisely achieves this balance. Musical rhythms, especially those of Western classical music, are considered highly regular and predictable, and this predictability has been hypothesized to underlie rhythm’s contribution to our enjoyment of music. Are musical rhythms indeed entirely predictable and how do they vary with genre and composer? To answer this question, we analyzed the rhythm spectra of 1,788 movements from 558 compositions of Western classical music. We found that an overwhelming majority of rhythms obeyed a 1/f(β) power law across 16 subgenres and 40 composers, with β ranging from ∼0.5-1. Notably, classical composers, whose compositions are known to exhibit nearly identical 1/f pitch spectra, demonstrated distinctive 1/f rhythm spectra: Beethoven’s rhythms were among the most predictable, and Mozart’s among the least. Our finding of the ubiquity of 1/f rhythm spectra in compositions spanning nearly four centuries demonstrates that, as with musical pitch, musical rhythms also exhibit a balance of predictability and surprise that could contribute in a fundamental way to our aesthetic experience of music. Although music compositions are intended to be performed, the fact that the notated rhythms follow a 1/f spectrum indicates that such structure is no mere artifact of performance or perception, but rather, exists within the written composition before the music is performed. Furthermore, composers systematically manipulate (consciously or otherwise) the predictability in 1/f rhythms to give their compositions unique identities.

Concepts: Rhythm, Music, Opera, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Musical notation, Trumpet, Classical music, Ludwig van Beethoven


Following the birth of modern opera in Italy in 1600, the demand for soprano voices grew up and the prepuberal castration was carried out to preserve the young male voice into adult life. Among the castrati, Gaspare Pacchierotti was probably one of the most famous. The remains of Pacchierotti were exhumed for the first time in 2013, for a research in the reconstruction of his biological profile, to understand the secrets behind his sublime voice and how the castration influenced the body. All the findings discovered, through anthropological and Computed Tomography analyses, are consistent both with the occupational markers of a singer and with the hormonal effects of castration. The erosion of cervical vertebrae, the insertion of respiratory muscles and muscles of the arms can be an effect of the bodily position and exercise during singing. The hormonal effect of castration were related to osteoporosis and to the disorders of spine.

Concepts: Human voice, Singing, Opera, Vocal range, Voice type, Mezzo-soprano, Soprano, Castrato


The relation between informal musical activities at home and electrophysiological indices of neural auditory change detection was investigated in 2-3-year-old children. Auditory event-related potentials were recorded in a multi-feature paradigm that included frequency, duration, intensity, direction, gap deviants and attention-catching novel sounds. Correlations were calculated between these responses and the amount of musical activity at home (i.e. musical play by the child and parental singing) reported by the parents. A higher overall amount of informal musical activity was associated with larger P3as elicited by the gap and duration deviants, and smaller late discriminative negativity responses elicited by all deviant types. Furthermore, more musical activities were linked to smaller P3as elicited by the novel sounds, whereas more paternal singing was associated with smaller reorienting negativity responses to these sounds. These results imply heightened sensitivity to temporal acoustic changes, more mature auditory change detection, and less distractibility in children with more informal musical activities in their home environment. Our results highlight the significance of informal musical experiences in enhancing the development of highly important auditory abilities in early childhood.

Concepts: Neuroscience, Electroencephalography, Child, Childhood, Acoustics, Sound, Neurophysiology, Opera


This paper proposes an admittedly difficult thesis that emotional pain and suffering can be good news. Rather than denying and running from emotional pain and suffering, we suggest embracing and carrying the pain. Through academic and spiritual writings, an observation of Hamlet’s tragic suffering, an examination of pastoral care case study data, and a B.L.E.S.S. acronym, this paper proposes that within the experience of suffering lies the transformative potential for meaning and fullness.

Concepts: Emotion, Suffering, Humanities, Opera, Tragedy, Hamlet, Shakespearean tragedy, William Shakespeare


Abstract This case-control study aimed to investigate if there is any change on the spectral slope declination immediately after vocal function exercises (VFE) vs traditional vocal warm-up exercises in normal singers. Thirty-eight pop singers with perceptually normal voices were divided into two groups: an experimental group (n = 20) and a control group (n = 18). One single session with VFE for the experimental group and traditional singing warm-up exercises for the control group was applied. Voice was recorded before and after the exercises. The recorded tasks were to read a phonetically balanced text and to sing a song. Long-term average spectrum (LTAS) analysis included alpha ratio, L-L ratio, and singing power ratio (SPR). Acoustic parameters of voice samples pre- and post-training were compared. Comparison between VFE and control group was also performed. Significant changes after treatment included the alpha ratio and singing power ratio in speaking voice, and SPR in the singing voice for VFE group. The traditional vocal warm-up of the control group also showed pre-post changes. Significant differences between VFE group and control group for alpha ratio and SPR were found in speaking voice samples. This study demonstrates that VFE have an immediate effect on the spectrum of the voice, specifically a decrease on the spectral slope declination. The results of this study provide support for the advantageous effect of VFE as vocal warm-up on voice quality.

Concepts: Human voice, Singing, Opera, Vocal range, Head voice, Voice type, Vocal weight, Whistle register


OBJECTIVE: Vocal accuracy of a sung performance can be evaluated by two methods: acoustic analyses and subjective judgments. Acoustic analyses have been presented as a more reliable solution but both methods are still used for the evaluation of singing voice accuracy. This article presents a first time direct comparison of these methods. METHODS: One hundred sixty-six untrained singers were asked to sing the popular song “Happy Birthday.” These recordings constituted the database analyzed. Acoustic analyses were performed to quantify the pitch interval deviation, number of contour errors, and number of tonality modulations for each recording. Additionally, 18 experts in singing voice or music rated the global pitch accuracy of these performances. RESULTS: A high correlation occurred between acoustic measurements and subjective rating. The total model of acoustic analyses explained 81% of the variance of the judges' scores. Their rating was influenced by both tonality modulations and pitch interval deviation. CONCLUSIONS: This study highlights the congruence between objective and subjective measurements of vocal accuracy within this first time comparison. Our results confirm the relevance of the pitch interval deviation criterion in vocal accuracy assessment. Furthermore, the number of tonality modulations is also a salient criterion in perceptive rating and should be taken into account in studies using acoustic analyses.

Concepts: Critical thinking, Human voice, Singing, Opera, Vocal range, Vocal music, Voice type, Vocal weight


OBJECTIVE: Elite professional voice users experience a high vocal load and if voice quality deteriorates, their livelihoods are affected. Our aim was to assess how an elite professional voice user group, musical theater students (n=49), perceive their voices in comparison with medical students (n=43). STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. METHODS: Participants completed a confidential questionnaire including demographics and the Voice Handicap Index-10 (VHI-10) in September 2010. RESULTS: Response rate was 100% (92/92). The mean age of the medical students was 25 years and of musical theater students was 20 years. The mean overall VHI-10 score was higher in musical theater students compared with that of medical students (mean score, 5.56 and standard deviation [SD], 4.13 vs mean score, 3.79 and SD, 3.02, P=0.02), particularly in three VHI-10 items: voice strain, lack of clarity, and being upset from voice problem (mean score, 0.82 and SD, 0.86 vs mean score, 0.44 and SD, 0.67, P=0.02; mean score, 0.92 and SD, 0.89 vs mean score, 0.53 and SD, 0.70, P=0.02; and mean score, 0.49 and SD, 0.79 vs mean score, 0.07 and SD, 0.26, P=0.001, respectively). Furthermore, musical theater students report higher possible voice problems in the past (6/43 [14%], 21/49 [43%], P=0.002). CONCLUSIONS: In this small group, musical theater students report more handicap compared with medical students. It is possible that this difference may be because of the musical theater students experiencing greater voice use over time or better recognition of potential voice problems. This may mean that we need to do more to protect student’s voices by optimizing vocal care during their training, without neglecting the vocal needs of other students.

Concepts: Arithmetic mean, Human voice, Phonation, Standard deviation, Opera, Musical theatre, Vocal range


The present study aims to evaluate the degree of anterior-posterior and medial supraglottic laryngeal compression in healthy singers of different voice classifications while singing different pitches, loudness, and phonatory tasks.

Concepts: Human voice, Larynx, Singing, Opera, Vocal range, Head voice, Chest voice, Whistle register


Fado is a Portuguese musical genre, instrumentally accompanied by a Portuguese and an acoustic guitar. Fado singers' voice is perceptually characterized by a low pitch, hoarse, and strained voice. The present research study sketches the acoustic and phonatory profile of the Fado singers' voice. Fifteen Fado singers produced spoken and sung phonatory tasks. For the spoken voice measures, the maximum phonation time and s/z ratio of Fado singers were near the inefficient physiological threshold. Fundamental frequency was higher than that found in nonsingers and lower than that found in Western Classical singers. Jitter and shimmer mean values were higher compared with nonsingers. Harmonic-to-noise ratio (HNR) was similar to the mean values for nonsingers. For the sung voice, jitter was higher compared with Country, Musical Theater, Soul, Jazz, and Western Classical singers and lower than Pop singers. Shimmer mean values were lower than Country, Musical Theater, Pop, Soul, and Jazz singers and higher than Western Classical singers. HNR was similar for Western Classical singers. Maximum phonational frequency range of Fado singers indicated that male and female subjects had a lower range compared with Western Classical singers. Additionally, Fado singers produced vibrato, but singer’s formant was rarely produced. These sung voice characteristics could be related with life habits, less/lack of singing training, or could be just a Fado voice characteristic.

Concepts: Human voice, Phonation, Singing, Opera, Vocal range, Electric guitar, Chest voice, Whistle register