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Take part in some research into singing!

Would you like to take part in a research project on singing?

If you are an adult choir singer, male or female, a research team consisting of myself and Professor David Howard would really appreciate it if you could spare a minute to tell us your height and the voice part you sing in choir. We need very little information from any one individual, but we do need a large amount of information resulting from the largest possible sample. If you wish to submit the information anonymously, that is fine. You can send a private FB message or an e-mail. All data will in any case be separated from its origin and your name and contact details will not be recorded. You can also use old or new “money” (cm or feet/inches) – we have the conversion software!

Why do we want to know this?

We are researching the pitch of choral music and the kinds of singer who might have sung different parts at different times in choral history. One proposition that we are investigating is that parts that are today sung in falsetto by counter-tenors would in the past have been sung by high tenors. This idea has been supported by the theory that Tudor people were shorter than people today and therefore had slightly higher voices. In support of this theory, it has been proposed that modern basses are on average taller than tenors and modern contraltos are on average taller than sopranos.

Does that seem right to you?

Don’t give us your opinion, we just want to establish the facts! Incredibly, the answer to this apparently obvious and straightforward question is not actually known – but it will be if you and lots of others can spare us a minute to send your height and voice part.

If you want to do a real Rolls Royce job for us, you could actually measure the pitch of your speaking voice in Hertz by using our Speech Test app that runs on iPhone or iPad. You can download this from the Apple App store and if you can’t find it there’s a link on every page of ourwebsite (Google martin ashley). You can ignore what it says about what stage of boys’ puberty you are at! The app has been calibrated to relate voice pitch to adolescent development, but what it is actually doing is sampling the frequency of your voice as you perform the monotonous task of counting backwards from twenty. That, and your height, are what we need to know.

If you prefer to e-mail, you can contact Martin at inchoir@martin-ashley.com or David at david.howard@rhul.ac.uk

Please don’t be shy: you will certainly get to hear the results!