18 December 2001

University of Queensland researchers are investigating rock’s role in voice problems suffered by professional contemporary singers.

Brisbane jazz singer and Queensland Conservatorium singing teacher Irene Bartlett and UQ lecturer Dr Alison Winkworth are turning live music venues into laboratories for their research project.

“It`s curtains for a singer, if they lose their voice,” said Ms Bartlett, a veteran jazz and popular music performer.

“We all know how carefully classical singers look after their voices, how long they undergo training before they appear on stage.

“But the same information about professional rock and pop singers - contemporary performers - just isn`t there.”

The researchers hope performers who sing professionally for six hours a week or more will respond to a comprehensive survey detailing the venue conditions, training history and types of voice problems.

Ms Bartlett says most vocal research has been based on studies of classical singers.

“I want to study the working life of a professional singer - someone earning their living performing in the pubs and clubs, doing sessions and recordings,” she said.

“Because singers of contemporary styles like music theatre and rock tend to sing loudly, there`s an impression that they may be more prone to voice problems than classical singers, for example, who are often thought to be obsessed - perhaps rightly - with voice care.

“There`s another belief that commercial music singers may not have had the voice training needed to ensure their voices hold out during the big demands of contemporary performance.

“But we just don`t have the data to back up these beliefs."

Information about the survey, including the questionnaire, is available by visiting: www.shrs.uq.edu.au/SP/pop-singers/index.htm

Media: For more information, contact Irene Bartlett (telephone 07 3202 8278, mobile 0410 492 548), Dr Alison Winkworth (telephone 07 3365 3080, mobile 0403 166 480) or Brad Turner at UQ Communications (telephone 07 3365 2659).