Speech is an important tool for human self-expression and social communication. Up to one third of today’s workforce occupy positions where speaking is an important part of their work.
The human voice is a carrier of natural speech and a powerful means of expression. The characteristics of speech and voice can be deliberately varied for the linguistic coding of messages and, for instance, to convey emotions and attitudes. These characteristics may also vary involuntarily, affecting our communication and listeners’ perceptions of us and our messages. Speech and voice are also powerful tools of artistic expression.
Speech technique and vocology (the science and practice of voice habilitation) is a subject where multidisciplinary scientific research meets a long tradition of practical voice and speech training. Research and instruction/training go seamlessly together. At Tampere University, the subject falls under the umbrella of Society and Health.
In Finland, academic training in speech technique and vocology is only offered at Tampere University. The establishment of the Speech and Voice Research Laboratory in 1968 marked the beginning of education in this field in Tampere.
We conduct research on speech, speaking and singing voice using acoustic, perceptual and physiological methods. Our research examines cultural variation in speech and voice, the effects and bases of voice training methods, and the development and prevention of voice disorders. Since 1968, we have been collecting a voice archive which enables comparisons between groups of voice users and between different decades.
Research on the cultural aspects of speech increases out understanding of interpersonal and intercultural communication. Studies on the effects of insufficient language skills and hearing impairment on the perception of voice and speech characteristics facilitate the development of teaching methods and communication aids.
Voice analysis can reveal how various types of voice use differ in terms of how they exploit the capacity of the vocal organ. In addition, the results shed light on the potential risks relating to excessive loading and the development of voice disorders.
Research on voice training methods seeks to identify the ideal methods for improving vocal function, expression and vocal endurance. This not only helps to improve communication and the occupational skills of future voice professionals but also prevents voice disorders.