Krista Wyllys

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Stephen Tasko

Second Advisor

Dr. Helen Sharp

Third Advisor

Heidi Vogley


voice, singing, tone placement, acoustic features, articulatory features

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


A variety of terms exist for describing tone quality in singing, and voice scientists, voice therapists, teachers of singing, and students of singing use different terms to describe the same sound. One aspect of tone quality is tone placement. Teachers of singing often rely on imagery and imitation to elicit correct tone placement from students of singing. More concrete data about what produces forward and backward tone placement could supplement singing teachers’ current practice of using imagery and imitation to elicit a desirable tone quality. This study examined forward and backward tone placement to determine the articulatory gestures and acoustic features that accompany each of the placements, and recorded singer impressions of what constitutes forward and backward tone placement. Participants in this study were 10 singing students who had completed at least 4 semesters of collegiate voice lessons. The singers participated in an interview regarding their impressions of forward and backward tone placement and completed a variety of singing tasks while articulatory motion was recorded with an electromagnetic articulograph system. Results of the interview showed these singers disagreed about the articulatory movements they would tell a student to do to produce forward and backward tone placement. Acoustic analysis revealed that forward tone placement is associated with a higher F2 and F3, whereas backward tone placement generated lower F2 and F3 values. Articulatory analysis revealed that singers make systematic changes with the oral articulators to produce forward and backward tone placement. These postures could be included in teaching tone placement to younger singing students.