Reviews Index

Approx frequencies of the formants in the 'a' vowel for male & female = male first, second and third formants for 'ah' as 730, 1090 and 2440, and for the female, 850, 1220 and 2810 although these are approximate and vary with each individual as each persons vocal tract differs slightly.

Vowel resonances tend to have a bandwidth of about 200Hz, so that if you are looking at a narrowband spectrum, all you see are the gaps between the resonances (formants) disappearing into the background.

Centre-frequency positions of the first two broad resonances (F1, F2 - formants 1 and 2, not to be confused with the narrow harmonic lines (f1 and f2)) are approximately as follows (in Hertz):


Note the pattern. the /o/ vowel will have a gap around 700 Hz, which if you are low in your register (say, 100 Hz) will correspond to a gap around the 7th Harmonic. Then after that, there will be a gap between the 2nd and higher formants which tend in operatic male singing to hang out about 2500-3000 Hertz. So there is likely to be a gap again at harmonic 12 to harmonic 20. Sing higher, and the harmonics will move, but the formants won't (as long as you keep the same vowel!).

Best way to look at this is to do an octave glide on /i/, and look at the harmonics, and then look at the transition /a/-/e/-/i/-/o/-/u/, and aim for consistency in everything other than the positions of the bright bands (i.e. moving up and down only!

Click Here to read Spectograph Harmonics article by Sally Collyer.

Visit the Vocal Software section for freeware and shareware spectograph and vocal manipulation software.

Article originally posted to Vocalist USA Newsgroup, published with permission from Martyn Clark of the now closed Edinburgh Voice Centre.

Sound & Spectograph Links

These are just a small example of the extensive links to online exercises and lessons we have available in the Singers Articles section, which contains complete listings of lessons, exercises or articles available on each site with direct links to the page (when not a framed site) plus answers to pretty much everything a beginner, intermediate, advanced singer or teacher needs to know! (All links open in a new window).

A Pictoral Introduction to Fourier Analysis/Synthesis
This tutorial contains diagrams and pictures to aid in understanding Fourier Analysis, Sinewaves, Square-wave's, frequencies and their uses.

A study of the formants of the pure vowels of British English
Written by J. C. Wells contains information, diagrams and tables.

Acoustics of Consonants
includes an overview of frictaves and oral stops with graphs of exaggerated formant transitions for some consonant-vowel pairs. Other articles in this collection of course study material includes broad phonetic transcriptions of English, vocal tract anatomy, properties of consonants and vowels, acoustic and general phonetics plus spectram diagrams.

Acoustics of Speech & Hearing
This course overview from Mark Huckvale University College London contains information on speech, hearing and sound with links to related internet resources including their associate site Speech & Hearing FAQ.

Analysis Using Spectogram and Timeline
Interesting thread with link to examples available at The International Electroacoustic Community Discussion Group.

Hearing Loss & Speech Intelligibility
Why we have trouble understanding speech provided by Hound Dog Hearing includes graphs showing the frequencies in Hz of vowels and consonants.

James L. Fitch, Ph.D.
Hidden away amongst the CMDS pages is a wealth of information on speech, hearing and spectographs.

Phonetics and Theory of Speech Production
This informative article is taken from a more comprehensive project on Speech Synthesis Technology from Helsinki University of Technology. It provides an overview with mathmatical workings, descriptions and pictures of the speech mechanism plus graphical representations of the time- and frequency-domain of vowels /a/, /i/, /u/ and other diagrams.

Resonant Voice & Formants
Message from Lloyd W. Hanson at International Discussion Group.

Singer's Formant
Documentation of the elite singing voice, a research data-gathering documentation project designed to quantify some of the measurable aspects of the singing voice. These spectograph images and sound samples from vocevista spectograph software looks at a descending chromatic scale over a perfect fifth (8 semitones) from ranges selected to show how the singer's formant might show characteristic and variable patterns among and within subjects.

Speaking of Speaking
by Peter Mapp takes a look at how speech is constructed with spectograph diagrams and a list of consonant phonemes.

Spectogram Reading
provides information on how to read a spectogram, explanations of waveforms, phonemes, formants plus exercises for improving your spectogram reading skills.

Spectral Analysis of Sound
in pdf format by Robert Mannell provides an overview of complex waves, line spectra, fourier transforms, linear prediction analysis, filtering, two dimensional spectra and spectrograms with diagrams.

Stirling University's on-line phonology course
Includes useful information, diagrams and exercises to enable readers to learn more about vowel, consonant and speech production.

Studying Phonetics on the Net
This site provided by the University of Washington contains information and links to IPA Phones and Phonemes of English, Speech Waveform Analysis, Text to Speech (TTS) Synthesizers and Speech Recognition, many of which contain audio examples and software.

The Style and Development of Lotte Lehmann
As preserved in recordings of Schubert's Lieder. The site includes aspects of the singer Lotte Lehmann's vocal performances.

Voice analysis and balancing tone generation software including spectographs, analysers, tone generator, chord / emotion and other related programs, most are freeware (donaware) or trustware.