VoceVista is an outgrowth of a quest to get past the subjectivity that limits all descriptions of voice and to arrive at its factual, objective features. In the second half of the 20th century, spectrum analysis allowed us to peer into the patterns of frequency components that determine voice quality and the various vowels. By the mid-nineties affordable personal computers had developed to the point where they could display spectrum analysis in real time. At the Groningen Voice Research Lab Harm K. Schutte and Donald G. Miller, who were pursuing research on the singing voice in the wake of Janwillem van den Berg and William Vennard, decided to integrate the two most important non-invasive signals for the singing voice — from a microphone and an electroglottograph — in a computer program that would analyze and display them. With the assistance of James Doing, who figured prominently in the initial development of the program, VoceVista made its public debut at the national conference of National Association of Teachers of Singers (NATS) in St. Louis (USA) on the last day of 1996.

One year later Garyth Nair visited in Groningen, bringing knowledge of Richard Horne, an extraordinary programmer whose freeware spectrogram program “Gram” had attracted the attention of early users of spectrum analysis, among them Nair. Horne joined the enterprise, and he and Miller then began a cooperative, continuing upgrade of VoceVista as interest gradually grew among forward-looking singing teachers.

At a subsequent national conference of NATS (2008 in Nashville), interest in VoceVista rose dramatically when it was used to display to the public the pupils’ spectrographic and EGG signals in a “wired master class.” At the same conference Miller’s book on VoceVista, Resonance in Singing: Voice Building through Acoustic Feedback was released to the public. The book continues to have brisk sales, as the use of VoceVista spreads around the world.

Even as the effectiveness of the software advanced, the price was reduced to a level that was affordable for singing teachers. What did not come down, however, was the price of the electroglottograph (EGG). The acoustic signal provides the major part of the practical work in the VoceVista program by revealing the details of resonance strategies. The contribution of the EGG, however, which tracks key adjustments in vocal-fold behavior, is also of vital importance. Nonetheless its high price meant that it was usually restricted to use in laboratories, rather than in voice studios where it could shed light on the process of training singers.

A solution to this problem appeared when Gerrie Goeree, an engineer who had a “day job” with Sony-Ericsson, took on the task of miniaturizing the EGG. The result is a light-weight precision instrument, perfectly integrated in a unit with microphone and the software VoceVista-Pro. That this can now be purchased within a singing teacher’s budget can be attributed to the labor of love of two highly qualified engineers and a retired singer.

History