Macquarie University
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The singing voice and vocal identity: investigating the perceptions and beliefs of singers and teachers

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posted on 2022-03-28, 17:59 authored by Belinda Lemon-McMahon
The term, vocal identity, is evident in the discourse on singing and vocal pedagogy. However, there has been limited research into what vocal identity is or even if it truly exists. Moreover, very little is understood as to how vocal identity is connected to the singing-self or to a singer's identity. Therefore, this research investigates the perceptions of singers and singing teachers on the development of vocal sound, and the relationship of vocal sound to vocal identity in Western musics. The research specifically explores the influence of vocal learning, culture, family, performing and community on the development of a singer, and on his or her individual vocal sound. The research encompasses a range of ages (18 and over), professional and amateur singers, and singers/singing teachers of any level of training (including untrained). The research was primarily qualitative and comprised of two stages of data collection. The initial stage surveyed singers and singing teachers on their perceptions of vocal sound and potential contributing factors, the findings of which formed the basis of investigation for the second stage of research. Symbolic interactionism and motivational theory were utilised in data analysis. The second research stage involved case study analyses of in-depth interviews with, and vocal recordings of, ten singers/singing teachers. A selection of the vocal recordings was then used for perceptual listening analyses by a panel of experienced listeners. Panel perceptions were compared to spectral analyses of the audio samples so as to investigate the similarities and differences between aural observations and visual analysis. The findings from all stages of the research led to the development of emergent themes. Cumulatively, the themes facilitated a comprehensive definition of vocal identity to be determined. Furthermore, a theoretical model, including the influences and influencers, and the connection of vocal identity to the singing-self, was progressively established.


Table of Contents

1. Introduction -- 2. Review of the literature -- 3. Research design and methods -- 4. The singing self, self-belief and self-realisation -- 5. Social-systems - influences, connectivity and validation -- 6. Motivations and transformations - actions and outcomes -- 7. Summative findings and quantitative analysis -- 8. Self-concept and influences - interview findings -- 9. Validation and identity - interview findings -- 10. Aural and visual analysis of vocal sound -- 11. Cumulative findings - vocal identity -- Appendices.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 252-267

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Department, Centre or School

Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Diane Hughes


Copyright Belinda Lemon-McMahon 2019. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (xvii, 358 pages, illustrations)

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