Consistency of phonatory breathing patterns in professional operatic singers

J Voice. 1999 Dec;13(4):529-41. doi: 10.1016/s0892-1997(99)80008-3.


Breathing strategy is generally regarded as an important factor in operatic singing, because it is assumed to affect phonation. If so, professional singers should exhibit well-controlled, replicable breathing movements when repeating the same phrase. The purpose of the present study was to investigate to what extent professional opera singers show a consistent, exhalatory breathing behavior in a quasi-realistic concert situation. Respiratory movements were documented in 5 professional operatic singers, two women and three men, by means of respiratory inductive plethysmography. Comparison of respiratory data gathered from 3 renderings of the same phrases revealed high consistency with regard to lung volume (LV) behavior. The same applied to rib cage (RC) movements, suggesting a great relevance of RC control in singing. Consistency in abdominal wall (AW) movement was observed in 2 singers. These observations are in accordance with the idea that the breathing strategy plays an important role in voice production during singing. In addition, the correlation between LV changes, on the one hand, and RC and AW movements on the other, was examined. The contribution to LV changes from the RC and the AW varied across singers, thus suggesting that professional operatic singing does not request a uniform breathing strategy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Muscles / physiology
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology
  • Phonation / physiology*
  • Respiration*
  • Sound Spectrography / methods
  • Voice / physiology*
  • Voice Quality