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Synchronization in Ensemble Singing


Interpersonal synchronization between musicians in Western ensembles is a fundamental performance parameter, contributing to the expressiveness of ensemble performances. Synchronization might be affected by the visual contact between musicians, leadership, and rehearsals, although the nature of these relationships has not been fully investigated. This thesis centres on the synchronization between singers in a cappella singing ensembles, in relation to the roles of visual cues and leadership instruction in 12 duos, and the evolution of synchronization and leader-follower relationships emerging spontaneously across five rehearsals in a newly formed quintet. In addition, the developmental aspects of synchronization are investigated in parallel to tuning and verbal interactions, to contextualise synchronization within the wider scope of expressive performance behaviours.

Three empirical investigations were conducted to study synchronization in singing ensembles, through a novel algorithm developed for this research, based on the application of electrolaryngography and acoustic analysis. Findings indicate that synchronisation is a complex issue in terms of performance and perception. Synchronization was better with visual contact between singers than without in singing duos, and improved across rehearsals in the quintet depending on the piece performed. Leadership instruction did not affect precision or consistency of synchronization in singing duos; however, when the upper voice was instructed to lead, the designated leader preceded the co-performer. Leadership changed across rehearsals, becoming equally distributed in the last rehearsal. Differences in the precision of synchronization related to altered visual contact were reflected in the perception of synchronization irrespective of the listeners’ music expertise, but the smaller asynchrony patterns measured across rehearsals were not. Synchronization in the quintet was not the result of rehearsal strategies targeted for the purpose of synchronization during rehearsal, but was paired with a tendency to tune horizontally towards equal temperament (ET), and to ET and just intonation in the vertical tuning of third intervals. 


Peer-reviewed journal articles

 §  D’Amario, S., Howard, D. M., Daffern, H., & Pennill, N. (2018). A longitudinal investigation of intonation in an a cappella singing quintet, Journal of Voice. DOI: 10.1016/j.voice.2018.07.015 

 §  D’Amario, S., Daffern, H., & Bailes, F. (2018). A longitudinal study investigating synchronization in a singing quintet, Journal of Voice. DOI: 10.1016/j.voice.2018.06.011

    §  D’Amario, S., Daffern, H., & Bailes, F. (2018). Synchronization in singing duo performances: The roles of visual contact and leadership instruction, Frontiers in Psychology: Performance Science. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01208

 §  D’Amario, S., Daffern, H., & Bailes, F. (2018). A new method of onset and offset detection in ensemble singing, Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology

 §  D’Amario, S. & Daffern, H. (2017). Using electrolaryngography and electroglottography to assess the singing voice: a systematic review, Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain, 27(4), 229-243. DOI: 10.1037/pmu0000184

Conference presentations (all reviewed abstracts)

§  D’Amario, S., Daffern, H., & Bailes, F. (2017). Temporal synchronization in singing duet performances. Paper presented at the Pan-European Voice Conference (PEVOC), August 30th – September 1st 2017, Ghent, Belgium.

§  D’Amario, S. & Daffern, H. (2017). Interpersonal interaction of portamento in singing ensemble performances. Poster session presented at the European Society for Cognitive Sciences Of Music (ESCOM), July 31st – August 4th 2017, Ghent, Belgium.

§  D’Amario, S., Daffern, H., & Bailes, F. (2017). Synchronization in singing duet performances: the roles of leadership and visual contact. Paper presented at The Voice Foundation’s 46th Annual Symposium: Care of the Professional Voice, May 31st – June 4th 2017, Philadelphia, USA. 

§  D’Amario, S. (2017). Engaging students in laboratory learning in Engineering, paper presented at York Learning and Teaching Award (YLTA) Symposium, March 22nd 2017, York, UK.

§  D’Amario, S., Kirkbride, R., & Pennill, N. (2016). A preliminary observational study of vocal quartets in a masterclass setting. Paper presented at White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities Conference, October 6th 2016, York, UK.  

§  D’Amario, S. & Daffern, H. (2016). Does a masterclass improve group cohesion? A pilot study of temporal synchronization between singers during vocal quartet performances. Paper presented at the Music Education and Music Psychology Student Conference, June 23rd 2016, Department of Music, University of York, York, UK.

§  D’Amario, S. & Daffern, H. (2016). Electrolaryngography and electroglottography in the assessment of singing voice: a systematic literature review. Poster session presented at 9th International Conference of Students of Systematic Musicology (SYSMUS), June 8th – 10th 2016, Department of Music, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland.

§  D’Amario, S. & Daffern, H. (2016). Understanding singing performances through the lens of empirical acoustics research. Poster session presented at the Performing Knowledge Conference, April 25th – 26th 2016, Emmanuel College, Cambridge, UK.