Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type

Doctoral Essay

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Vocal Performance (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

David Alt

Second Committee Member

Esther Jane Hardenbergh

Third Committee Member

Rachel L. Lebon


PERNA, NICHOLAS (D.M.A., Vocal Pedagogy and Performance) Effects of Nasalance on the Acoustical Properties of the (May 2008) Tenor Passaggio and Head Voice Abstract of a doctoral essay at the University of Miami. Doctoral essay supervised by Professor David Alt and Professor Rachel L. Lebon. No. of pages in text. (73) This study aims to measure the effect that nasality has on the acoustical properties of the tenor passaggio and head voice. Not to be confused with forward resonance, nasality here will be defined as nasalance, the reading of a Nasometer, or the percentage of nasal and oral airflow during phonation. A previous study by Peer Birch et. al. has shown that professional tenors used higher percentages of nasalance through their passaggio. They hypothesized that tenors used nasalance to make slight timbral adjustments as they ascended through passaggio. Other well respected authors including Richard Miller and William McIver have claimed that teaching registration issues is the most important component of training young tenors. It seemed logical to measure the acoustic effects of nasalance on the tenor passaggio and head voice. Eight professional operatic tenors participated as subjects performing numerous vocal exercises that demonstrated various registration events. These examples were recorded and analyzed using a Nasometer and Voce Vista Pro Software. Tenors did generally show an increase of nasalance during an ascending B-flat major scale on the vowels [i] and [u]. Perhaps the most revealing result was that six of seven tenors showed at least a 5-10% increase in nasalance on the note after their primary register transition on the vowel of [a]. It is suggested that this phenomenon receive further empirical scrutiny, because, if true, pedagogues could use nasalance as a tool for helping a young tenor ascend through his passaggio.


Acoustics; Head Voice; Formant; Register; Passaggio; Tenor; Singing; Nasality; Nasalance