Voice Quality: Functions, Analysis and Synthesis

August 27-29, 2003
Geneva, Switzerland

Aging Female Voices: an Acoustic and Perceptive Analysis

Markus Brückl, Walter Sendlmeier

Institut für Sprache und Kommunikation, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany

This study examines the changes in adult female voices due to the aging process. Acoustic cues in voices that enable listeners to recognize a speaker’s vocal age are specified as well as acoustic cues that straightly indicate the speaker’s chronological age.

The analysed data are recordings of the voices of 56 female speakers differing in age. The recorded speech samples include sustained vowels, read speech and spontaneous speech. Our methods are acoustic analyses and perception tests. The perception tests are designed to analyse the influence of the vowel onset on the amount of information about aging transferred by sustained vowels. The acoustic evaluation comprises phonic parameters like measurements of stability of voice or of vocal tremor which are supposed to reflect voice qualities that are expected to vary with age. Changes in tempo of articulation are also investigated.

We found that increasing amplitude perturbation is an indicator of increasing age even on the basis of spontaneous speech. Reading rate decreases with increasing age, whereas there is no significant change in articulation rate of spontaneous speech in women’s voices. Based on sustained vowels of female voices, the frequency tremor intensity index indicates age more accurately than F0 and amplitude perturbations. We also found evidence for the relevance of the vowel onset to recognize age more accurately.

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Bibliographic reference.  Brückl, Markus / Sendlmeier, Walter (2003): "Aging female voices: an acoustic and perceptive analysis", In VOQUAL'03, 163-168.