Perceptual Features in Singing

David Howard, Eric Hunter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


For singers, hearing is a critical component for voice production in terms of how they monitor their own vocal output, how they monitor outputs from any other musicians involved in the performance, and how they appreciate the acoustic nature of the space in which they are performing. Hearing is rarely specifically mentioned in the context of singing or musical training; it is essentially simply taken for granted as one of the human senses that is always switched on to function as an element of the human perceptual system monitoring the world around us. Human hearing is rather like human voice production in that, while they are both typically taken for granted, one is very aware of them when they go wrong and stop working normally.
Human hearing is the sense via which we pick up the sounds around us. These sounds are acoustic pressure variations that travel in the air from the sources of sound (such as musical instruments, singers, loudspeakers, environmental sounds, domestic appliances, heavy machinery, or traffic) through the local environment, being reflected off its surfaces until they reach the listeners’ ears. Having two ears enables us to localize the direction from which sounds are coming, particularly horizontally, but also to a lesser degree vertically.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Singing
EditorsGraham Welch, David Howard, John Nix
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9780199660773
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


  • perception
  • hearing
  • pitch
  • timbre
  • loudness
  • singing environment factors
  • high-frequency energy

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