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Style, sound and vocal tract configuration in Vocal Jazz

Throughout their career, jazz singers come into contact with many jazz styles. The way jazz vocalists use their voice and build their sound palette can be very different from one style to another. During practice, singers will often base their sound on other singers who are considered excellent in that style. Given this tradition in jazz education, a series of questions need to be asked. What defines the sound of an excellent Swing- or Bebop singer and what happens physiologically within the voice to create that sound?

As specific literature on jazz vocal technique is quite limited and often based on classical technique, the goal of this research is to identify characteristics that are typical for a specific vocal jazz style. Three main styles are chosen: Swing, Bossa Nova and Bebop. They are widespread, a common part of vocal jazz curricula and there is a clear distinction between them considering sound.

Spectrographic analysis makes it possible to identify characteristics of voice usage. Researcher Jo Estill, among others, provided a model to isolate and train the parts of the voice responsible for those characteristics. By using these two methods, this research will identify missing links between style, sound and vocal tract configuration, enhance insight into jazz singing and provide jazz singers with additional knowledge and new practice strategies for achieving greater artistry.