Intelligibility of high-pitched vowel sounds in the singing and speaking of a female Cantonese Opera singer

Dieter Maurer (1), Peggy Mok (2), Daniel Friedrichs (3), Volker Dellwo (3)

(1) Zurich University of the Arts, Institute for the Performing Arts and Film, Switzerland
(2) The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Dept. of Linguistics and Modern Languages, Hong Kong
(3) University of Zurich, Phonetics Laboratory, Switzerland,,,


(Original abstract of the paper submitted)

The question whether or not vowel quality can be maintained at F0 of the sounds exceeding statistical F1 of „normal“ speech is still a matter of debate. The present study investigates the perception of long Cantonese vowels /i, y, œ, a, ɔ, u/, spoken and sung in (C)V and (C)V:S context by a well-known female Cantonese Opera singer in the range of F0 of c. 560–860Hz. 172 high-pitched syllables or isolated vowel sounds were selected and extracted from a live recording. Corresponding vowel perception was tested in a listening test performed by 26 students of linguistics. All six vowels proved to be identifiable > 80% up to F0 of c. 700Hz, and sounds of /i, a, ɔ, u/ proved to be identifiable > 80% up to a range of F0 of c. 820–860Hz. Confusion matrices are provided in the present paper and spectral illustrations of all sounds are presented at

Index Terms: vowel, perception, F0, speaking, singing, Cantonese Opera

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Please refer to the Table of Content for the text of the paper.

In addition to the description of the study (according to the paper), additional acoustic analysis and entire confusion matrices of all sounds investigated are presented.

Please refer to the Results section for the additional documentation

>> Link to the Results section

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We would like to thank Christian d'Heureuse for adapting the M.A.T. software for this presentation, Casper Hui for labeling and screening the sound files, and Heidy Suter for editorial assistance.

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