Scientists at the University of York are developing a computer-based system that could make singing lessons more effective.
Professor David Howard and the media engineering research group at the university will use newly developed voice analysis and display techniques in a specially constructed Windows software program.
Professor Howard told vnunet.com that the aim of the system is to enable music teachers and singers to gauge how effectively they are using techniques, both physical and mental, to improve pitch, clarity, power and tone.
"During singing lessons, the teacher gives the students images or psychological hooks to rely on to enable them to develop their voices, such as 'sing on the point of the yawn', or 'sing as if an orange is stuck in your throat'.
"The students have to rely on these hooks in performance, and these in turn rely on the ear and previous experience of the teacher, but these techniques can be misinterpreted," he said.
The computers will be able to display voice pitch and acoustic output to show how a singer projects sound. Students and teachers will be able to keep a visual record for future use, Professor Howard explained.
The team is also considering implementing technology that will indicate how the vocal chords behave when a musician sings certain notes.
Professor Howard, who has received a £51,000 grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Board, said the project will start this July and last for six to eight months using two students and two teachers. But it may not necessarily help the next budding Pop Idol.
"While I don't believe a computer can teach someone to sing, it can provide meaningful and easily understandable feedback for both teacher and student, and they are very willing to embrace new technology in their work," he said.
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