Apr 6, 2017 | Metz, France
When Georgia Tech-Lorraine students, Nittish Katta, Connor Hawley, Sebastian Fernandez, and Elianna Paljug signed on to do undergraduate research with professor David Anderson, little did they know they would get to meet, hear, and record the voices of trained singers from the Metz Opéra.
The four student researchers have been enthusiastically up for the challenge since day one. – All are engineering majors who are involved in some way with music at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Enriching the project and facilitating their connection with the Metz Opéra singers, is the fact that all of the students have an intermediate level of French.
The research project is spearheaded by Georgia Tech-Lorraine’s Dr. Anderson in conjunction with Dr. Elliot Moore, an ECE faculty member at Tech in Atlanta. The team’s goal is to use spectral analysis to look at the measurable differences between professionally trained and untrained singing voices. Says, Elianna, “Much like Olympic broadcasting emphasizes the incredible capabilities of the athletes using scientific visualizations, we are hoping to create a visualization through which the general public of Metz can better understand the athleticism within the artistry of the incredible singers they witness every time they go to the opera!”
The four students were thrilled to spend the day at the opera house and theater. Inaugurated in 1732, it is the oldest operating opera house in France and one of the oldest in Europe. Although the artists are used to performing before large crowds, most of the artists had a touch of stagefright as they stepped up to the microphone, and this served to break the ice.
The artists’ hospitality made the project that much more enjoyable. “Throughout their rehearsal, we individually took singers into our makeshift recording studio in another rehearsal room, and had them sing a few arpeggios on different vowels, and a slow glissando of their range. It was an honor to behold their incredible voices, and I was very grateful that our team's skillsets were so perfectly suited to the task, “ continued Elianna.
The team put the call out to the Georgia Tech-Lorraine community to record the voices of student shower-singing-superstars in order to collect samples of untrained singers for the ongoing vocal analysis research.
Next up, another recording visit to Metz Opéra and then the team will begin to analyze and compare all of the collected data.
Elianna sums up her experience thus far – “I have always wanted to do research, but I never could have dreamed that I would have the opportunity to grow in my technical knowledge by working with the phenomenal artists of the Metz Opera! As a member of the Georgia Tech Chamber choir and a Biomedical Engineering major, this opportunity to unite my passions towards extremely exciting research has been an absolute dream. I was blown away not only by the breathtaking talent of the artists, but also by their eagerness to participate in our research experiment, and their enthusiasm for the intersection of the arts and technology.
Everyone knows that Georgia Tech is fantastic at STEM, but many are less aware that Georgia Tech also understands the value of the arts, with its phenomenal School of Music that two of us researchers are grateful participants in, and with programs like Georgia Tech-Lorraine that allow students to explore the wonder of the arts all across Europe. I am so grateful to go to a school and to participate in a program that understands that the exciting possibilities from uniting the arts and engineering are endless!”