Vocal tract resonances and the sound of the Australian didjeridu (yidaki). III. Determinants of playing quality

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Traditional didjeridus have a broad range of bore geometries with many details not immediately apparent to a player, and are therefore suitable for examining the relationship between perceived quality and physical properties. Seven experienced players assessed the overall playing quality of 38 didjeridus that spanned a wide range of quality, pitch, and geometry, as well as 11 plastic cylindrical pipes. The ranking of these instruments was correlated with detailed measurements of their acoustic input impedance spectra. Most significantly, the ranked quality of a didjeridu was found to be negatively correlated with the magnitude of its acoustic input impedance, particularly in the frequency range from 1 to 2 kHz. This is in accord with the fact that maxima in the impedance of the player`s vocal tract can inhibit acoustic flow, and consequently sound production, once the magnitude of these impedance maxima becomes comparable with or greater than those of the instrument. This produces the varying spectral peaks or formants in the sound envelope that characterize this instrument. Thus an instrument with low impedance and relatively weak impedance maxima in this frequency range would allow players greater control of the formants in the output sound and thus lead to a higher perceived playing quality.
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Smith, John
Rey, G
Dickens, Paul
Fletcher, Neville
Wolfe, Joseph
Hollenberg, Lloyd
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Journal Article
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UNSW Faculty