Do Lyrics help individuals to sing in tune?

Simin Soleimanifar-
Hannah E. Staisloff-
Justin M. Aronoff –

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
901 South Sixth
Urbana-Champaign, IL 61820

Popular version of paper ‘4aMU5 – Do lyrics help individuals to sing in tune?
Presented Thursday morning 8:00 AM – 10:15 AM, December 2, 2021
181th ASA Meeting, General Topics in Musical Acoustics III.
Read the article in Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics

Singing in tune means singing the correct notes and changing the pitch of notes. There are some factors in singing that help people to change the pitch from syllable to syllable to be able to replicate a familiar pitch contour of a song. However, individuals are not able to accurately sing a familiar song such as Happy Birthday when they are asked to replace all the words with a vowel. It is possible that lyrics have an important part in singing correctly. The goal of this study was to study whether lyrics help individuals to sing in tune.

Five young normal hearing listeners participated in this research. Participants were recorded singing Happy Birthday once with the lyrics and once when the lyrics were replaced with the sound /ah/.

The results showed that the accuracy of their singing with and without lyrics was not different. Additionally, the notes produced both with and without lyrics were significantly and highly correlated with the target note.

So, it seems that using the lyrics does not improve the singing in tune.

BHL 309 Singing Happy Birthday with lyrics

BHL 309 Singing Happy Birthday without lyrics


See also: Simin SoleimanifarHannah E. Staisloff, and Justin M. Aronoff, “Lyrics provide a small benefit for singing accuracy”, Proc. Mtgs. Acoust. 45, 035001 (2021)

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