Contemporary commercial music (CCM) singers: Lifestyle choices and acoustic measures of voice
Foote, Alexander Gavin
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Contemporary commercial music (CCM) singers may be at a high risk for voice damage due to their increased vocal demands and the chronic exposure to chemical irritants associated with unhealthy lifestyle choices. Continuous mechanical damage, confounded with chemical trauma, has detrimental effects on the biomechanical properties of the vocal folds. Prior research on CCM singers has been limited, with efforts focused on physiologic aspects of voice production. The objective of the study was to report on the lifestyle choices of CCM singers and evaluate their vocal abilities according to healthy vs. unhealthy profile status via acoustic analyses as well as auditory perceptual assessments. The second objective was to evaluate if there were differences in lung volume associated with healthy vs. unhealthy lifestyle profiles. Thirteen CCM singers participated in the study where they were assigned to either a healthy or unhealthy lifestyle vocal profile. Acoustic analyses of sound pressure level (SPL), signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), fundamental frequency (F0), and jitter/shimmer were collected during a prolonged singing /i/ in isolation as well as a singing /i/ in context of the "Star Spangled Banner" at three different vocal intensities (low, comfortable, high) . Lung volume was recorded via a vital capacity maneuver. Voice recordings were then rated via an auditory perceptual assessment (CAPE-V). Results were compared with a Wilcoxon rank-sum test. Differences with regard to group trends were observed across all dependent measures. SNR median values for unhealthy singers were significantly lower in both singing tasks during low vocal intensity (p<0.05), with differences approaching significance found during prolonged singing /i/ in isolation at comfortable vocal intensity (p<0.10). F0 analysis noted significantly lower median values for unhealthy singers during isolated /i/ productions at low vocal intensity (p<0.05). Jitter analysis among unhealthy singers showed significantly higher median values during isolated /i/ productions at comfortable vocal intensity (p<0.05), with differences approaching significance found during singing /i/ in context at low vocal intensity (p<0.10). Shimmer analysis among unhealthy singers showed significantly higher median values during isolated /i/ productions at low and comfortable vocal intensity (p<0.05), with differences approaching significance found during singing /i/ in context at low vocal intensity (p<0.10). Unhealthy singers showed lower vital capacity as compared to healthy singers, however results were nonsignificant (p>0.05). Auditory perceptual assessment of voice was perceived to be essentially normal for all participants regardless of healthy versus unhealthy profile status. The findings provide a descriptive profile of contemporary commercial music singers and contribute to the existing literature on the harmful effects of exposure to cigarette smoke on voice production. Unhealthy singers displayed significant acoustic differences most often observed in low vocal intensity conditions, which suggest a decreased vocal ability. This may be explained by their repeated exposure to chemical irritants (i.e. cigarette smoke) and possible phonotrauma, causing changes in the biomechanical properties of the vocal folds. Given the disparity between acoustic measures and auditory perceptual assessment, it was concluded that the biomechanical changes might be in the early onset and suggest future voice difficulties.