Link

The ever fabulous openly trans* classical singer CN Lester talks about vocal androgyny, sharing classical singing videos highlighting high male/androgynous roles and female tenors, baritones and basses:

Before we proceed – I’m not going start with the voices of trans people (that means you have to come back for part two). I thought, rather, to begin with an introduction to the fact that, contrary to what a very foolish society claims, there is no gender binary in the voice. We sing over it all the time. All the time. Do trust me on this – I know whereof I speak. On average the voice of someone who has been through a testosterone-laden puberty will be capable of lower notes than someone who hasn’t – and vice versa. On average. And the size of the chords is only one factor in what gives each each voice its unique flavour.

I think nothing illustrates this fact quite so spectacularly as my classical speciality – the high male/androgynous role. Doesn’t matter what sex or gender you are, so long as you can make a convincing poet/god/hero/prince/musician/knight/page (or look soulful for the religious music) whilst keeping your sound spinning over a broad and shining range.

And have a lovely long look at the work being done by Vivaldi’s Women - where the talents of female tenors, baritones and basses are celebrated rather than ignored.

Read the full post and watch/listen to the videos on CN’s blog

Video

Practical Androgyny - Vocal androgyny in speech and singing

Recorded for PracticalAndrogyny.com an ambiguous gender presentation resources website.

Nat talks about how to develop a more androgynous, ambiguous or gender neutral speaking and singing voice. Assumes nothing about how you identify or whether you voice has been affected by testosterone.

Accompanying blog post with video summary, links to all singers and songs featured, bonus material, additional recommended singers and links to external resources available at:

http://practicalandrogyny.com/2011/10/31/vocal-androgyny-in-speech-and-singing/

Photo
Vocal Androgyny: Speaking Voice
leotron recently posted an analysis of Chris Colfer (Kurt from Glee)’s voice that included a link to this pitch chart from transgendervoice.net and the Praat voice analyzing software that can analyse the pitch range and average pitch from a voice recording.
Using these, I put a sample of my speaking voice through the system and came out with the following result:

Object type: Pitch
Object name: nat_speaking_sample
Date: Sat May  7 20:01:39 2011
Time domain:
   Start time: 0 seconds
   End time: 22.221496598639455 seconds
   Total duration: 22.221496598639455 seconds
Time sampling:
   Number of frames: 2219 (1017 voiced)
   Time step: 0.01 seconds
   First frame centred at: 0.020748299319726656 seconds
Ceiling at: 350 Hertz
Estimated quantiles:
   10% = 132.420083 Hz = 118.649931 Mel = 4.86146326 semitones above 100 Hz = 3.83294172 ERB
   16% = 141.402679 Hz = 125.842268 Mel = 5.99771342 semitones above 100 Hz = 4.04968617 ERB
   50% = 178.23178 Hz = 154.385604 Mel = 10.0050552 semitones above 100 Hz = 4.89431551 ERB
   84% = 219.087299 Hz = 184.407415 Mel = 13.5780702 semitones above 100 Hz = 5.75778106 ERB
   90% = 231.178886 Hz = 192.987241 Mel = 14.5081157 semitones above 100 Hz = 6.00018187 ERB
Estimated spreading:
   84%-median = 40.88 Hz = 30.04 Mel = 3.575 semitones = 0.8639 ERB
   median-16% = 36.85 Hz = 28.56 Mel = 4.009 semitones = 0.845 ERB
   90%-10% = 98.81 Hz = 74.37 Mel = 9.651 semitones = 2.168 ERB
Minimum 112.244444 Hz = 102.144053 Mel = 1.99972847 semitones above 100 Hz = 3.32920337 ERB
Maximum 274.863663 Hz = 222.91491 Mel = 17.5045943 semitones above 100 Hz = 6.83154756 ERB
Range 162.6 Hz = 120.770857 Mel = 15.5 semitones = 3.502 ERB
Average: 181.474855 Hz = 156.157559 Mel = 9.96947309 semitones above 100 Hz = 4.93562379 ERB
Standard deviation: 36.31 Hz = 27.15 Mel = 3.485 semitones = 0.7894 ERB
Mean absolute slope: 235.1 Hz/s = 176.8 Mel/s = 23.03 semitones/s = 5.153 ERB/s
Mean absolute slope without octave jumps: 22.14 semitones/s

Which if I’m reading correctly against the pitch chart, means my average speaking pitch is 181.5Hz - firmly within ‘gender ambiguous’ range. The minimum is 112.2Hz - firmly within ‘masculine’, and the maximum is 274.8Hz - firmly within ‘feminine’.
Of course that’s only in terms of vocal pitch and doesn’t take speech patterns, cadence and intonation into account, but it explains why I can still successfully ‘pass’ as gender ambiguous/confusing even when speaking (and why when I’m read as a guy, I’m often assumed to be a teenager rather than an adult).
Thought you guys might find this interesting, there’s a full Practical Androgyny post about vocal androgyny planned for the near future!
Incidentally, the speech therapist who created the pitch chart also has a page on speech training for genderqueer people which may be of interest.

Vocal Androgyny: Speaking Voice

leotron recently posted an analysis of Chris Colfer (Kurt from Glee)’s voice that included a link to this pitch chart from transgendervoice.net and the Praat voice analyzing software that can analyse the pitch range and average pitch from a voice recording.

Using these, I put a sample of my speaking voice through the system and came out with the following result:

Object type: Pitch

Object name: nat_speaking_sample

Date: Sat May  7 20:01:39 2011

Time domain:

   Start time: 0 seconds

   End time: 22.221496598639455 seconds

   Total duration: 22.221496598639455 seconds

Time sampling:

   Number of frames: 2219 (1017 voiced)

   Time step: 0.01 seconds

   First frame centred at: 0.020748299319726656 seconds

Ceiling at: 350 Hertz

Estimated quantiles:

   10% = 132.420083 Hz = 118.649931 Mel = 4.86146326 semitones above 100 Hz = 3.83294172 ERB

   16% = 141.402679 Hz = 125.842268 Mel = 5.99771342 semitones above 100 Hz = 4.04968617 ERB

   50% = 178.23178 Hz = 154.385604 Mel = 10.0050552 semitones above 100 Hz = 4.89431551 ERB

   84% = 219.087299 Hz = 184.407415 Mel = 13.5780702 semitones above 100 Hz = 5.75778106 ERB

   90% = 231.178886 Hz = 192.987241 Mel = 14.5081157 semitones above 100 Hz = 6.00018187 ERB

Estimated spreading:

   84%-median = 40.88 Hz = 30.04 Mel = 3.575 semitones = 0.8639 ERB

   median-16% = 36.85 Hz = 28.56 Mel = 4.009 semitones = 0.845 ERB

   90%-10% = 98.81 Hz = 74.37 Mel = 9.651 semitones = 2.168 ERB

Minimum 112.244444 Hz = 102.144053 Mel = 1.99972847 semitones above 100 Hz = 3.32920337 ERB

Maximum 274.863663 Hz = 222.91491 Mel = 17.5045943 semitones above 100 Hz = 6.83154756 ERB

Range 162.6 Hz = 120.770857 Mel = 15.5 semitones = 3.502 ERB

Average: 181.474855 Hz = 156.157559 Mel = 9.96947309 semitones above 100 Hz = 4.93562379 ERB

Standard deviation: 36.31 Hz = 27.15 Mel = 3.485 semitones = 0.7894 ERB

Mean absolute slope: 235.1 Hz/s = 176.8 Mel/s = 23.03 semitones/s = 5.153 ERB/s

Mean absolute slope without octave jumps: 22.14 semitones/s

Which if I’m reading correctly against the pitch chart, means my average speaking pitch is 181.5Hz - firmly within ‘gender ambiguous’ range. The minimum is 112.2Hz - firmly within ‘masculine’, and the maximum is 274.8Hz - firmly within ‘feminine’.

Of course that’s only in terms of vocal pitch and doesn’t take speech patterns, cadence and intonation into account, but it explains why I can still successfully ‘pass’ as gender ambiguous/confusing even when speaking (and why when I’m read as a guy, I’m often assumed to be a teenager rather than an adult).

Thought you guys might find this interesting, there’s a full Practical Androgyny post about vocal androgyny planned for the near future!

Incidentally, the speech therapist who created the pitch chart also has a page on speech training for genderqueer people which may be of interest.

Link

telescopics:

leotron:

I’m interested in the human speaking voice and how it is perceived in relation to gender.

MC likes to watch Glee and sometimes I’m in the bedroom using my computer while she’s viewing it. On one of those occasions, I heard a somewhat gender ambiguous voice coming through the television speakers. MC explained to me that the character’s name was Kurt (Chris Colfer) and that he was gay both on the show and “in real life”.

I decided to do an analysis of his voice using Praat to see what the average frequency of his voice was; I wondered if he fell within the typical ranges for female, male, or gender ambiguous.

Using a ten second clip from this interview, Praat calculated that his average speaking frequency is 186Hz. According to this chart, which outlines the average speaking frequencies for males and females (from Christie Block’s website), this puts him both within the mid-average female speaking range as well as the higher end of the gender ambiguous range. His conversational speaking voice includes intonation patterns that are typically associated with female speakers. I imagine that when he’s on the phone with an unfamiliar person, his voice might be perceived as female more often than male.

I like that Glee features a character who has a speaking voice that lies outside of the gender binary.

One of the things I’ve always loved about Chris was his voice. I don’t know how much research you did into interviews, but he can actually speak in quite a low voice with relative ease. I don’t doubt that he would have been able to train himself to sound lower, the same way a lot of trans guys do. But (as far as I can tell) he’s happy enough with his voice to speak in his natural range, regardless of all the bullying he incurred for it when he was younger.

Despite how high my voice naturally is (and it’s quite a bit lower now, thanks to testosterone) I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of training myself to speak lower, so seeing a guy like him be so open and confident with his voice honestly made me feel a lot more secure about mine. 

It’s not just trans* people who train themselves to speak in more gender role appropriate vocal ranges and patterns. The natural pitch range for assigned female and male voices has significant overlap (as this chart shows). It’s really a bell curve with most people falling into the range that could be produced by either binary sex.

Gender roles and peer pressure cause many cis people to feel they must speak in a more ‘appropriate’ pitch and speech pattern in order to be normal or attractive. This usually happens during the teenage years when the pressure to conform is highest and experimentation and change more acceptable.

For those whose private efforts to conform are unsuccessful, there are even products and programs out there designed to help cis people train their voices to confirm to society’s standards for their assigned gender. For example: http://voicedeep.com/

Tags: voice
Link

Genderqueer classical singer CN Lester explains why they can’t take testosterone to ease their dysphoria:

I suspect it has more to do with allowing myself, finally, to grieve the path I can’t take – that of transitioning fully, and finally having the right kind of body. The body that would allow me to express my non-binary gender to the fullest – because, despite what some idiots believe, it’s totally possible to be both transsexual and genderqueer/androgynous. Because I would rock the whole facial hair/lipstick look.

Also, perhaps, the question. People who love classical music know better than to ask. But I’ve had a lot of this, recently: “surely you could take T and just have a lower voice?”

It’s not that it can’t happen. Trans guys can keep a singing voice, though, depending on age and level of vocal expertise before hormones, there seems to be an astonishing level of risk. Too many men lose their ability to vocalise altogether. I haven’t heard of a single incident of a classical singer going through this process, and I have yet to read of a trans guy keeping a vocal range and quality after T that would leave him capable of singing in the classical style as a professional.

Full article. Recommended reading.