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Primate of the opera: What soprano singing apes on helium reveal about the human voice
Date:8/22/2012

air," said Nishimura. "However, in a helium-enriched atmosphere the tuning of the vocal cord vibration and the resonance of the vocal tract are altered as the gas causes an upward shift of the resonance frequencies."

This supports the theory that, as with humans, there is independence between the origin of the sound and the vocal tools used to manipulate it.

This shows that gibbons use the same process for producing speech as humans, whereby acoustic sound originates from the larynx and is controlled by a filter, determined by the shape of the supralaryngeal vocal tract. This manipulation forms speech and is known as the 'source-filter' process of speech production.

Singing gibbons always, and with minimal effort, adopt the complex vocal techniques which are only mastered in humans by professional soprano singers. This discovery suggests the development of complex vocal abilities in humans was not due to unique evolutionary modifications. Instead it shows that humans share the biological fundamentals of vocalisation with other primates, but in speech have simply acquired another of its most sophisticated forms.

"This is the first evidence that gibbons always sing using soprano techniques, a difficult vocalisation ability for humans which is only mastered by professional opera singers," concluded Nishimura. "This gives us a new appreciation of the evolution of speech in gibbons while revealing that the physiological foundation in human speech is not so unique."


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Contact: Ben Norman
Sciencenewsroom@wiley.com
44-012-437-70375
Wiley
Source:Eurekalert

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