Publications by authors named "Pauline Larrouy-Maestri"

15 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Perception of Nigerian Dùndún Talking Drum Performances as Speech-Like vs. Music-Like: The Role of Familiarity and Acoustic Cues.

Front Psychol 2021 20;12:652673. Epub 2021 May 20.

Max Planck-NYU, Center for Language, Music, and Emotion, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

It seems trivial to identify sound sequences as music or speech, particularly when the sequences come from different sound sources, such as an orchestra and a human voice. Can we also easily distinguish these categories when the sequence comes from the same sound source? On the basis of which acoustic features? We investigated these questions by examining listeners' classification of sound sequences performed by an instrument intertwining both speech and music: the dùndún talking drum. The dùndún is commonly used in south-west Nigeria as a musical instrument but is also perfectly fit for linguistic usage in what has been described as speech surrogates in Africa. One hundred seven participants from diverse geographical locations (15 different mother tongues represented) took part in an online experiment. Fifty-one participants reported being familiar with the dùndún talking drum, 55% of those being speakers of Yorùbá. During the experiment, participants listened to 30 dùndún samples of about 7s long, performed either as music or Yorùbá speech surrogate ( = 15 each) by a professional musician, and were asked to classify each sample as music or speech-like. The classification task revealed the ability of the listeners to identify the samples as intended by the performer, particularly when they were familiar with the dùndún, though even unfamiliar participants performed above chance. A logistic regression predicting participants' classification of the samples from several acoustic features confirmed the perceptual relevance of intensity, pitch, timbre, and timing measures and their interaction with listener familiarity. In all, this study provides empirical evidence supporting the discriminating role of acoustic features and the modulatory role of familiarity in teasing apart speech and music.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.652673DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8173200PMC
May 2021

Are You Your Own Best Judge? On the Self-Evaluation of Singing.

J Voice 2021 May 16. Epub 2021 May 16.

Neuroscience Department, Max-Planck-Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Frankfurt-am-Main Germany; Max-Planck-NYU, Center for Language, Music, and Emotion, New York, USA, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Psychology Department, New York University, New York, New York.

Objective: Singers are the first judges of their own performances. Although performers usually share a precise definition of pitch accuracy, do they correctly estimate their own ability to sing in tune? This study examines the accuracy of professional singers' self-evaluations and investigates the profiles of performers/judges.

Methods: Eighteen highly trained soprano singers were invited to evaluate the pitch accuracy of peers' performances, selected from an existing corpus, and their own previously recorded performances in a pairwise comparison paradigm. The statistical model derived from the participants' evaluation of their peers allowed us to estimate the pitch accuracy of participants' own performances and served as a reference to quantify participants' evaluation and self-evaluation abilities.

Results: The results show that participants were surprisingly inaccurate when evaluating themselves. Specifically, most participants overestimated the accuracy of their own performances. Also, we observed a relationship between singing proficiency and self-evaluation ability, as well as the presence of different profiles.

Conclusion: In addition to emphasizing that singers are not necessarily their own best judges, this study suggests potential role(s) for self-evaluation (in)accuracy in the development of exceptional skills.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jvoice.2021.03.028DOI Listing
May 2021

Listening to birdsong reveals basic features of rate perception and aesthetic judgements.

Proc Biol Sci 2020 03 25;287(1923):20193010. Epub 2020 Mar 25.

Department of Neurosciences, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Germany.

The timing of acoustic events is central to human speech and music. Tempo tends to be slower in aesthetic contexts: rates in poetic speech and music are slower than non-poetic, running speech. We tested whether a general preference for slower rates can account for this, using birdsong as a stimulus: it structurally resembles human sequences but is unbiased by their production or processing constraints. When listeners selected the birdsong playback tempo that was most pleasing, they showed no bias towards any range of note rates. However, upon hearing a novel stimulus, listeners rapidly formed a robust, implicit memory of its temporal properties, and developed a stimulus-specific preference for the memorized tempo. Interestingly, in birdsong stimuli was strongly determined by individual, internal preferences for rates of 1-2 Hz. This suggests that processing complex sound sequences relies on a default time window, while aesthetic appreciation appears flexible, experience-based and not determined by absolute event rates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.3010DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7126030PMC
March 2020

The mistuning perception test: A new measurement instrument.

Behav Res Methods 2019 04;51(2):663-675

Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London, London, UK.

An important aspect of the perceived quality of vocal music is the degree to which the vocalist sings in tune. Although most listeners seem sensitive to vocal mistuning, little is known about the development of this perceptual ability or how it differs between listeners. Motivated by a lack of suitable preexisting measures, we introduce in this article an adaptive and ecologically valid test of mistuning perception ability. The stimulus material consisted of short excerpts (6 to 12 s in length) from pop music performances (obtained from MedleyDB; Bittner et al., 2014) for which the vocal track was pitch-shifted relative to the instrumental tracks. In a first experiment, 333 listeners were tested on a two-alternative forced choice task that tested discrimination between a pitch-shifted and an unaltered version of the same audio clip. Explanatory item response modeling was then used to calibrate an adaptive version of the test. A subsequent validation experiment applied this adaptive test to 66 participants with a broad range of musical expertise, producing evidence of the test's reliability, convergent validity, and divergent validity. The test is ready to be deployed as an experimental tool and should make an important contribution to our understanding of the human ability to judge mistuning.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13428-019-01225-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6478636PMC
April 2019

Pitch perception in music: Do scoops matter?

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 2018 Oct 5;44(10):1523-1541. Epub 2018 Jul 5.

Department of Psychology, University at Buffalo.

Studies of musical pitch perception typically treat pitches as if they are stable within a tone. Although pitches are represented this way in notation, performed tones are rarely stable, particularly in singing, which is arguably the most common form of melody production. This paper examines how brief dynamic changes at the beginnings and endings of sung pitches, a.k.a. "scoops," influence intonation perception. Across three experiments, 110 participants evaluated the intonation of four-tone melodies in which the third tone's tuning could vary within the central steady-state (the asymptote), or by virtue of scoops at the beginning and/or end of the tone. As expected, listeners were sensitive to mistuning. Importantly, our results also point to unique contributions of scoops. As in the language domain, dynamic changes in a small time window are perceptually significant in music. More specifically, this study revealed the coexistence of two distinct mechanisms: sensitivity to the average pitch across the duration of the tone (assimilating the scoop), and processing the relationship of the scoop to the surrounding context. In addition to clarifying intonation perception in music, the identification of these mechanisms paves the way to cross-domain comparisons and, more generally, to the better understanding of auditory sequences processing. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xhp0000550DOI Listing
October 2018

The Effect of Smoking on the Fundamental Frequency of the Speaking Voice.

J Voice 2019 Sep 7;33(5):802.e11-802.e16. Epub 2018 May 7.

Faculty of Psychology, Speech and Language Therapy, and Education, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium.

Objective: Little is known about the impact of smoking on voice acoustics. Some studies have found that tobacco affects the fundamental frequency of the voice, whereas others have not. This study aimed to overcome the major methodological limitations observed in previous studies by strictly controlling several variables that could clarify the effect of smoking on the speaking voice.

Methods: Lebanese men were chosen for this study. Thirty nonsmokers, 30 cigarette smokers, and 30 water-pipe smokers were matched on the basis of age, height, and weight. The 90 participants were asked to complete the Voice Handicap Index, sustain the vowel /a/, read 10 sentences in French and Arabic, and speak spontaneously in both languages. The mean fundamental frequency (F0), speaking fundamental frequency (SFF), jitter, and standard deviation of F0 were measured using Praat and Vocalab4 and were compared between the groups.

Results: The Voice Handicap Index scores differed significantly between nonsmokers and cigarette smokers and between nonsmokers and water-pipe smokers. Results also show that cigarette smokers' F0 and SFF were significantly lower than nonsmokers' results. No significant differences were found between water-pipe smokers and nonsmokers. The jitter and the standard deviation of F0 did not differ significantly between the two groups.

Conclusions: Our findings clearly demonstrate the effect of smoking on the voice: smokers reported more voice complaints, and cigarette smokers presented lower F0 and SFF in French and in Arabic when age, height, and weight were controlled. Further investigations using similar strict controls over individual variables and additional measures are encouraged to better understand the effect of water-pipe smoking on the voice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jvoice.2018.04.001DOI Listing
September 2019

Vocal Features of Song and Speech: Insights from Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire.

Front Psychol 2017 11;8:1108. Epub 2017 Jul 11.

Neuroscience Department, Max Planck Institute for Empirical AestheticsFrankfurt, Germany.

Similarities and differences between speech and song are often examined. However, the perceptual definition of these two types of vocalization is challenging. Indeed, the prototypical characteristics of speech or song support top-down processes, which influence listeners' perception of acoustic information. In order to examine vocal features associated with speaking and singing, we propose an innovative approach designed to facilitate bottom-up mechanisms in perceiving vocalizations by using material situated between speech and song: Speechsong. 25 participants were asked to evaluate 20 performances of a speechsong composition by Arnold Schoenberg, "Pierrot lunaire" op. 21 from 1912, evaluating 20 features of vocal-articulatory expression. Raters provided reliable judgments concerning the vocal features used by the performers and did not show strong appeal or specific expectations in reference to Schoenberg's piece. By examining the relationship between the vocal features and the impression of song or speech, the results confirm the importance of pitch (height, contour, range), but also point to the relevance of register, timbre, tension and faucal distance. Besides highlighting vocal features associated with speech and song, this study supports the relevance of the present approach of focusing on a theoretical middle category in order to better understand vocal expression in song and speech.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01108DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5504174PMC
July 2017

Layman versus Professional Musician: Who Makes the Better Judge?

PLoS One 2015 26;10(8):e0135394. Epub 2015 Aug 26.

Psychology Department, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium.

The increasing number of casting shows and talent contests in the media over the past years suggests a public interest in rating the quality of vocal performances. In many of these formats, laymen alongside music experts act as judges. Whereas experts' judgments are considered objective and reliable when it comes to evaluating singing voice, little is known about laymen's ability to evaluate peers. On the one hand, layman listeners-who by definition did not have any formal training or regular musical practice-are known to have internalized the musical rules on which singing accuracy is based. On the other hand, layman listeners' judgment of their own vocal skills is highly inaccurate. Also, when compared with that of music experts, their level of competence in pitch perception has proven limited. The present study investigates laypersons' ability to objectively evaluate melodies performed by untrained singers. For this purpose, laymen listeners were asked to judge sung melodies. The results were compared with those of music experts who had performed the same task in a previous study. Interestingly, the findings show a high objectivity and reliability in layman listeners. Whereas both the laymen's and experts' definition of pitch accuracy overlap, differences regarding the musical criteria employed in the rating task were evident. The findings suggest that the effect of expertise is circumscribed and limited and supports the view that laypersons make trustworthy judges when evaluating the pitch accuracy of untrained singers.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0135394PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4550346PMC
May 2016

On drawing a line through the spectrogram: how do we understand deficits of vocal pitch imitation?

Front Hum Neurosci 2015 15;9:271. Epub 2015 May 15.

Department of Psychology, University at Buffalo Buffalo, NY, USA ; Department of Psychology, University of Liège Liège, Belgium ; Department of Neuroscience, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics Frankfurt, Germany.

In recent years there has been a remarkable increase in research focusing on deficits of pitch production in singing. A critical concern has been the identification of "poor pitch singers," which we refer to more generally as individuals having a "vocal pitch imitation deficit." The present paper includes a critical assessment of the assumption that vocal pitch imitation abilities can be treated as a dichotomy. Though this practice may be useful for data analysis and may be necessary within educational practice, we argue that this approach is complicated by a series of problems. Moreover, we argue that a more informative (and less problematic) approach comes from analyzing vocal pitch imitation abilities on a continuum, referred to as effect magnitude regression, and offer examples concerning how researchers may analyze data using this approach. We also argue that the understanding of this deficit may be better served by focusing on the effects of experimental manipulations on different individuals, rather than attempt to treat values of individual measures, and isolated tasks, as absolute measures of ability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2015.00271DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4432667PMC
June 2015

Singing ability is rooted in vocal-motor control of pitch.

Atten Percept Psychophys 2014 Nov;76(8):2522-30

The Royal Conservatory of Music, 273 Bloor St. West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5S 1V6,

The inability to vocally match a pitch can be caused by poor pitch perception or by poor vocal-motor control. Although previous studies have tried to examine the relationship between pitch perception and vocal production, they have failed to control for the timbre of the target to be matched. In the present study, we compare pitch-matching accuracy with an unfamiliar instrument (the slider) and with the voice, designed such that the slider plays back recordings of the participant's own voice. We also measured pitch accuracy in singing a familiar melody ("Happy Birthday") to assess the relationship between single-pitch-matching tasks and melodic singing. Our results showed that participants (all nonmusicians) were significantly better at matching recordings of their own voices with the slider than with their voice, indicating that vocal-motor control is an important limiting factor on singing ability. We also found significant correlations between the ability to sing a melody in tune and vocal pitch matching, but not pitch matching on the slider. Better melodic singers also tended to have higher quality voices (as measured by acoustic variables). These results provide important evidence about the role of vocal-motor control in poor singing ability and demonstrate that single-pitch-matching tasks can be useful in measuring general singing abilities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13414-014-0732-1DOI Listing
November 2014

Effects of melody and technique on acoustical and musical features of western operatic singing voices.

J Voice 2014 May 1;28(3):332-40. Epub 2014 Feb 1.

Logopédie de la Voix, Department of Psychology: Cognition and Behavior, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium.

Objective: The operatic singing technique is frequently used in classical music. Several acoustical parameters of this specific technique have been studied but how these parameters combine remains unclear. This study aims to further characterize the Western operatic singing technique by observing the effects of melody and technique on acoustical and musical parameters of the singing voice.

Methods: Fifty professional singers performed two contrasting melodies (popular song and romantic melody) with two vocal techniques (with and without operatic singing technique). The common quality parameters (energy distribution, vibrato rate, and extent), perturbation parameters (standard deviation of the fundamental frequency, signal-to-noise ratio, jitter, and shimmer), and musical features (fundamental frequency of the starting note, average tempo, and sound pressure level) of the 200 sung performances were analyzed.

Results: The results regarding the effect of melody and technique on the acoustical and musical parameters show that the choice of melody had a limited impact on the parameters observed, whereas a particular vocal profile appeared depending on the vocal technique used.

Conclusions: This study confirms that vocal technique affects most of the parameters examined. In addition, the observation of quality, perturbation, and musical parameters contributes to a better understanding of the Western operatic singing technique.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jvoice.2013.10.019DOI Listing
May 2014

The effects of stress on singing voice accuracy.

J Voice 2014 Jan 2;28(1):52-8. Epub 2013 Oct 2.

Logopédie de la Voix, Department of Psychology: Cognition and Behavior, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium.

Objective: The quality of a music performance can be lessened or enhanced if the performer experiences stressful conditions. In addition, the quality of a sung performance requires control of the fundamental frequency of the voice, which is particularly sensitive to stress. The present study aimed to clarify the effects of stress on singing voice accuracy.

Methods: Thirty-one music students were recorded in a stressful condition (ie, a music examination) and a nonstressful condition. Two groups were defined according to the challenge level of the music examination (first and second music levels). Measurements were made by self-reported state anxiety (CSAI-2R questionnaire) and by observing heart rate activity (electrocardiogram) during each performance. In addition, the vocal accuracy of the sung performances was objectively analyzed.

Results: As expected, state anxiety and heart rate were significantly higher on the day of the music examination than in the nonstressful condition for all the music students. However, the effect of stress was positive for the first-year students but negative for the second-year students, for whom the music examination was particularly challenging. In addition, highly significant correlations were found between the intensity of cognitive symptoms and the vocal accuracy criteria.

Discussion: This study highlights the contrasting effects of stress on singing voice accuracy but also the need to consider the challenge level and perception of the symptoms in experimental and pedagogical settings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jvoice.2013.07.008DOI Listing
January 2014

The effect of melody and technique on the singing voice accuracy of trained singers.

Logoped Phoniatr Vocol 2014 Oct 9;39(3):126-9. Epub 2013 Apr 9.

Logopédie de la Voix, Department of Psychology: Cognition and Behaviour, University of Liège , Belgium.

A previous study highlighted the effect of vocal technique on the singing voice accuracy of trained singers. The intervals' precision between the notes of the tune was altered when the singers used Western operatic singing technique. In order better to understand these results, we have recorded two different melodies sung with two different vocal techniques. A large panel of trained singers (n = 50) participated in the study. The analytical method described in the reference paper has been applied. The results confirm the effect of vocal technique on the vocal accuracy of trained singers. In addition, these results provide an answer about the melodic effect and guide future work on the perception process of operatic voices.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/14015439.2013.777112DOI Listing
October 2014

The evaluation of singing voice accuracy: a comparison between subjective and objective methods.

J Voice 2013 Mar 29;27(2):259.e1-259.e5. Epub 2012 Dec 29.

Logopédie de la Voix, Department of Psychology: Cognition and Behaviour, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium.

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.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jvoice.2012.11.003DOI Listing
March 2013

Criteria and tools for objectively analysing the vocal accuracy of a popular song.

Logoped Phoniatr Vocol 2014 Apr 21;39(1):11-8. Epub 2012 Jun 21.

Logopédie de la Voix, Department of Psychology: Cognition and Behaviour, University of Liège , Belgium.

This study aims to validate our method for measuring accuracy in a melodic context. We analysed the popular song 'Happy Birthday' sung by 63 occasional and 14 professional singers thanks to AudioSculpt and OpenMusic (IRCAM, Paris, France). In terms of evaluation of the pitch interval deviation, we replicated the profile of occasional singers described in the literature (the slower the performance, the more accurate it is). Our results also confirm that the professional singers sing more accurately than occasional singers but not when a Western operatic singing technique is involved. These results support the relevance of our method for analysing vocal accuracy of occasional and professional singers and led us to discuss adaptations to be implemented for analysing the accuracy of operatic voices.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/14015439.2012.696139DOI Listing
April 2014
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