Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Philip Ewell

Committee Members

Loralee Songer

Stephanie Jensen-Moulton

Poundie Burstein

Subject Categories

Music Pedagogy | Music Performance | Music Practice


singing, vibrato, straight tone, voice performance


Straight tone is a valuable tool that can be used by singers of any style to both improve technical ideals, such as resonance and focus, and provide a starting point for transforming the voice to meet the stylistic demands of any genre. By employing a resonant, minimally vibrated, balanced sound as the core of the voice, the versatile singer can stylistically unbalance the voice by layering colors and effects in ways appropriate for many types of singing. In order to fully understand the inner workings of vibrato and how it can be healthily minimized, my discussion of vibrato and straight tone is broken down into four parts: (1) acoustics; (2) physiology; (3) pedagogy; and (4) style. Perception is a key ingredient to understanding the full extent of the marriage between vibrato and straight tone. Straight tone is not completely without vibrato and the role of perception plays a large role in this acoustic deception. Equally as important is considering the physiological ways that vibrato can be produced—be it through natural or manufactured means. The mechanics behind vibrato are directly connected to the various types and degrees of vibrato, straight tone being one of them. Straight tone can take its place among the vocabulary of natural vibratos once these mechanical differences are taken into account. Vocal exercises designed to uncover a singer’s innate, core sound can be used to define straight tone for each individual singer and begin the road to versatility in singing.