Non-Linear Phenomena in Contemporary Vocal Music

Jürgen Neubauer, Michael Edgerton, Hanspeter Herzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Complex and multiphonic voice signals of vocal improvisors are analyzed within the framework of nonlinear dynamics. Evidence is given that nonlinear phenomena are extensively used by performers associated with contemporary music. Narrow-band spectrograms of complex vocalizations are used to visualize the appearance of nonlinear phenomena (spectral bifurcation diagrams). Possible production mechanisms are discussed in connection with previous research, personal performance and pedagogical experience. Examples for period doubling, biphonation and irregular aperiodic phonation in vocal sonorities of contemporary vocal improvisors are given, and glottal whistle production encompassed with biphonation and triphonation is shown. Furthermore, coincidences of harmonics-formant matching associated with abrupt transitions to subharmonics and biphonation in the vocal output are provided. This also shows the recurrent use of nonlinear phenomena by performers. It is argued that mechanisms such as source-tract coupling or vocal fold desynchronization due to asymmetry are used in a reproducible way for musical tasks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Voice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Music
  • Biophysics
  • Other Physics Topics

Free keywords

  • Contemporary vocal music
  • glottal whistle
  • artistic reproducibility
  • multiphonic complex sonorities
  • nonlinear dynamics


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  • Extreme Voices

    Edgerton, M., 2023 Oct 30, Röstläget, 31, p. 6 to 13 8 p.

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    Open Access

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