Hanny van Lankeren

Training of female choral singers in their modal register to sing and sound as male tenors

There is a misunderstanding about what female tenors should do in order to match their fellow male tenors in vocal sound colour in a classical choral setting. Indeed, male tenors are singing in the top range of their voice, where women are singing in their lowest range. However, where vocal range and registration are coming together, adjustment of the vocal tract and breath flow should follow comparable patterns in male or female singers. Thus, both sexes should be able to create a similar vocal sound quality under the right conditions.

To test this hypothesis, a research project has been designed in which amateur choral tenors, men and women, are invited to participate in a test protocol in which they have to perform a serial of vocal exercises. Audio will be recorded directly online for comparison and for using Artificial Intelligence as well as a double blind listener panel in order to answer the following questions: Can we distinguish the male and female sounds? How do they perform with respect to sounding like a typical choral tenor? How does the algorithm, after having been trained with samples of professional male choral tenors, rate females, singing tenor-style, on a similarity scale? Are amateur male singers achieving higher scores? Can we determine an effect on score after specific training of the female tenors?
The outcomes will be discussed with regard to development of novel training methods that might help mixed classical choirs in Europe to find new tenors.

Hanny van Lankeren, holding an MSc Degree in Biology, has been trained as a classical soprano at the Groningen Conservatory in The Netherlands. She has over 25 years of experience as a singing teacher, and currently works with a variety of students in her own Studio in Wageningen, The Netherlands. Her Scientific background, in combination with a set of specific voice skills she has developed over the years as a Master Teacher in the Estill Voice Model, enable her to study and teach how to sing in the low range of the female voice. She published articles on the subject in ‘Het Bulletin’, the magazine of the Dutch Society of Singing Teachers and in Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology (London).