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INAUGURATION: (from Left) Dr. Scherer (inset), Dr. Ravikumar, Nithyashree and Bhoominathan.
INAUGURATION: (from Left) Dr. Scherer (inset), Dr. Ravikumar, Nithyashree and Bhoominathan.

The inauguration of the Voice Clinic by Nithyashree Mahadevan on November 17, 2006, in a way formalised work in the area of voice culture, that has been going on in Sri Ramachandra Medical College, Porur, (SRMC) for a decade. Speaking at the function, T. Katharine van Til, Vice-Consul, Consulate General of the U.S., in Chennai, said she had a personal interest in the conference, because she herself was trained in Western classical music.Dr. Ronald C. Scherer, Professor in the Department of Communication Disorders, Bowling Green State University, Ohio, joined through video conferencing and delivered the keynote address on multi-cultural issues in singing.Dr. Scherer explained how the oscillation of the vocal folds creates phonation. If the vocal folds are vibrating in and out at, say, 200 times per second, they are said to be vibrating at 200 Hz. A soprano singing "high C" at 1024 Hz has her vocal folds vibrating at 1024 times per second.When the vocal folds vibrate, glottal flow cycles are produced. Glottal flow produces sound, which "excites" the vocal tract resonances, and sound radiates into the air and we hear the music.In women, the vocal folds vibrate twice as many times per second as compared to men. Loud singing should be avoided because it can damage one's voice. But what is loud singing? Singing louder than what is normal for an individual would be loud for that particular person.How does a beginner find out the right pitch for him/her, asked Nithyashree and Dr. Scherer explained that the right pitch is that which is most natural to a singer. The singing pitch would be slightly higher than the speaking pitch.Start training with the optimal voice and then extend up and down, he said. Many singers are reluctant to undergo a stroboscopic examination because they fear this might have long-term effects and might keep them from singing for a prolonged period. But Dr. Ravikumar, Head of the ENT Department, allayed such fears by pointing out that the effect of the anaesthetic wears off in 15 or 20 minutes, and that singers could get back to singing soon after a stroboscopic examination. Mr. Prakash Bhoominathan, Reader in the Department of Speech Language and Hearing Sciences at SRMC, pointed out that while the singers' formant (Fs) has relevance in Western classical music, which is harmony based, it is absent in Carnatic music singers, who do not have to project their voices over the pakkavadyam. The voice clinic at SRMC has equipment that analyses 34 different voice parameters at the click of a button. The nasometry equipment helps to quantify the degree of nasality in a singer's voice. Praat is a software for acoustic analysis, using which the pitch range and pitch match of Carnatic singers is studied.

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Dos and Don'ts Do Keep the voice powered by breath flow.Respect voice limits.Use adequate acoustic monitor during performances.Drink a lot of water.Don'tClear your throat.Use your voice when sick. Drink too much coffee, tea and soft drinks. Neglect gastroesophageal reflux disorder.

SUGANTHY KRISHNAMACHARI


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