February 04, 2006

What is your voice pitch?

Continuing the previous post, finally you have a way of figuring out what your voice pitch is, and to see how you measure up compared with other males.

According to the above cited article, the testees' recordings had:

mean length=17.9 s, mean F0=113.2 Hz, F0 range=85.6-154.6 Hz

F0 is a correlate of pitch and is the parameter that you must estimate.

According to the authors, testees had to read an excerpt from the Rainbow Passage:
When the sunlight strikes raindrops in the air, they act as a prism and form a rainbow. The rainbow is a division of white light into many beautiful colors. These take the shape of a long round arch, with its path high above, and its two ends apparently beyond the horizon. There is , according to legend, a boiling pot of gold at one end. People look, but no one ever finds it. When a man looks for something beyond his reach, his friends say he is looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Throughout the centuries people have explained the rainbow in various ways. Some have accepted it as a miracle without physical explanation. To the Hebrews it was a token that there would be no more universal floods. The Greeks used to imagine that it was a sign from the gods to foretell war or heavy rain. The Norsemen considered the rainbow as a bridge over which the gods passed from earth to their home in the sky. Others have tried to explain the phenomenon physically. Aristotle thought that the rainbow was caused by reflection of the sun's rays by the rain. Since then physicists have found that it is not reflection, but refraction by the raindrops which causes the rainbows. Many complicated ideas about the rainbow have been formed. The difference in the rainbow depends considerably upon the size of the drops, and the width of the colored band increases as the size of the drops increases. The actual primary rainbow observed is said to be the effect of super-imposition of a number of bows. If the red of the second bow falls upon the green of the first, the result is to give a bow with an abnormally wide yellow band, since red and green light when mixed form yellow. This is a very common type of bow, one showing mainly red and yellow, with little or no green or blue.

I have no idea which excerpt they used, so I said the whole thing, which took me around 90 seconds, as opposed to the 17.9 average recording length in their experiments.

Ok, so how do you do it?

First download the Praat software which is available for different platforms and then run it.

Then do "New->Record Mono Sound" and speak the passage into your microphone. Then do "Save to list".

Now, select the recording and click edit. In the new window that will appear, go to Pitch->Pitch Settings and set pitch range from 75 to 300Hz.

Then, select the part of your recording that you contains your speech by clicking at the beginning and dragging the mouse to the end.

Then View->Show Analyses and make the "Longest Analysis" as long as your recording.

Finally, Pitch->Get Pitch, and there you have it!

My own pitch is 119Hz over the entire passage. I did notice that as I was speaking and getting more impatient my voice started to rise in tone. I then calculated the pitch in the first half of the recording (117Hz) vs. the second half (121Hz) and indeed it seemed that this was the case. In the first 17.9 seconds of the recording, which corresponds to the mean length of the authors' recordings, my pitch was 116Hz.

Leave comment or trackback if you manage to get through the process; it's easier than might seem from the above description.


David Puts, first author of this study writes in the comments:
In response, to Jason Malloy's question, the male participants were racially mixed--mostly white, but maybe 10 (out of 111) black. I didn't find a significant difference in F0 between ethnicities.

Regarding Gaius' question, yes, Dabbs and Mallinger (1999) (cited in the paper) found a significant correlation between circulating testosterone levels and F0 in males of this age group. And Need et al. (1993) (also cited in our paper) found that testosterone treatment lowers voice pitch.

Finally, I think we sound kind of whiny on voicemail recordings, etc. because the microphones on these devices are not the best quality and don't pick up the entire sound spectrum very well.

Thanks for your interest!

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