Relationship Between Weight, Speaking Fundamental Frequency, and the Appearance of Phonational Gaps in the Adolescent Male Changing Voice

Elizabeth C. Willis, Dianna T. Kenny*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)


Summary: This 12-month prospective longitudinal study used acoustic analysis to identify phonational gaps in the vocal range of adolescent boys undergoing voice change and to investigate the relationship between the appearance of phonational gaps, weight gain, and changes in speaking fundamental frequency (SF0). Eighteen pubescent boys were recorded producing three descending and three ascending glides over their physiological voice range using the vowel "ah." Recordings were digitized over the range 0-16 kHz and then analyzed to determine both the frequency range and appearance and frequency characteristics of the phonational gaps. Data were plotted against changes in weight and SF0 both as an indicator of pubertal development and to test the hypothesis that changes in weight and SF0 were related to the appearance of phonational gaps. Results indicated that minimum F0 decreased significantly over the time period and phonational gaps increased significantly, but there were no significant changes in maximum F0 or range. Individual data indicated the initial appearance of a lower-frequency gap followed by a higher-frequency gap before the long-term establishment of a midrange gap. At time 5, all boys in the weight range 42.7-44.9 kg had either low- or high-range gaps. The SF0 for this group varied from 117 to 216 Hz. All boys heavier than 54.8 kg had highly variable phonational gaps. SF0 range for this group was 99.5-151 Hz. Transitory low- then high-frequency phonational gaps appeared before the establishment of a midrange phonational gap. In this study, these phonational gaps were associated with certain weight ranges and rapid weight gain, with changes to boys' speaking voices, and with loss of ability to use the mid- and falsetto vocal range.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-471
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Voice
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008


  • Changing voice
  • Longitudinal study
  • Male adolescent
  • Phonational gaps

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