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Harsh voice quality and its association with blackness in popular American media

Moisik, S. R. (2013). Harsh voice quality and its association with blackness in popular American media. Phonetica, 4, 193-215. doi:10.1159/000351059.
Performers use various laryngeal settings to create voices for characters and personas they portray. Although some research demonstrates the sociophonetic associations of laryngeal voice quality, few studies have documented or examined the role of harsh voice quality, particularly with vibration of the epilaryngeal structures (growling). This article qualitatively examines phonetic properties of vocal performances in a corpus of popular American media and evaluates the association of voice qualities in these performances with representations of social identity and stereotype. In several cases, contrasting laryngeal states create sociophonetic contrast, and harsh voice quality is paired with the portrayal of racial stereotypes of black people. These cases indicate exaggerated emotional states and are associated with yelling/shouting modes of expression. Overall, however, the functioning of harsh voice quality as it occurs in the data is broader and may involve aggressive posturing, comedic inversion of aggressiveness, vocal pathology, and vocal homage
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