An analysis of the size information in classical formant data: Peterson and Barney (1952) revisited

R. E. Turner and R. D. Patterson

Published in: Journal of the Acoustical Society of Japan

Irino and Patterson (2002) have suggested the Mellin Transform as a model for vocal tract normalisation in the auditory system. In this report, we reanalyse the classical formant data reported by Peterson and Barney (1952) to see if it supports the normalisation hypothesis. The vowel formant data are clustered, quantitatively, using very general assumptions about speaker-variability. These clusters allow us to assess the degree to which vowel formant variability is attributable to changes in vocal tract length (VTL). The width of clusters associated with men, women and children within a given vowel cluster motivated consideration of a natural space in which to analyse scaled frequency components of sounds. By recasting Peterson and Barney’s data into this new representation we are able to quantify the utility of scale normalisation.

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