Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (Performing Arts)


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Advisor

Linda Barcan

Second Advisor

Associate Professor Graham WOOD


The middle register is a region of the voice which has been discussed and disputed for many years in the disciplines of vocal pedagogy and voice science. This project, which was inspired by my own experience as a singing teacher in the private studio, seeks to investigate how female professional and pre-professional vocalists relate to their middle register. For the purposes of this dissertation, the middle register is assumed to refer to an area of the trained voice, or of the voice in training.

The project is composed of three studies. In Study One a pilot questionnaire was distributed to 57 vocalists, ranging from secondary and tertiary students to professional singers. The responses to the questionnaire were analysed and the results used in the design and development of Studies Two and Three.

Study Two was made up of interviews with three professional singers, together with an analysis of their vocal technique in performance.

Study Three consisted of case studies of nine singers: three secondary students, three tertiary students, and three professional singers. The nine subjects recorded an a cappella version of “Scarborough Fair” and answered a short questionnaire. The participants’ questionnaire responses and the expert listeners’ survey results were then analysed to discover whether the singers’ ideas of their performance were traceable in the expert listeners’ interpretations, and whether any register preference expressed by the singers could be detected by the expert listeners.

The results of this project indicate that the listening habits of singers greatly affect the way they approach their middle register. A singer’s ability to express register choice, and the degree to which other listeners were able to discern these choices, was found to correlate with level of training. The results also indicate that a register preference for either chest dominance or head dominance existed for a majority of the singers in this study, all of whom were singers of Contemporary Commercial Music (CCM). The implications for teaching singing to students of CCM with a strong register preference are discussed

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