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The Vowel Demonstrator provides an introduction to the acoustic consequences of articulatory manipulations involved in the production of vowels.
The Vowel Demonstrator introduces the notions of source-filter theory, that the sound from a periodic glottal source is filtered by the vocal tract, imposing spectral peaks that determine which vowel we perceive. Selecting a location in the “vowel quadrilateral” leads to: 1) a display of a schematic representation of the vocal tract configuration corresponding to that vowel; 2) displays of the source spectrum, the vocal tract filter function, and the output spectrum for that vowel; and 3) audio of the synthesized vowel. Changing the vocal tract leads to easily observable changes in the filter function, its peaks, and the output spectrum. Thus, the acoustic consequences of varying tongue position and lip rounding can be easily demonstrated.
The Vowel Demonstrator is a useful tool for teaching courses in acoustic phonetics and speech science. With the aid of a vowel synthesizer, it provides visual and aural demonstrations that emphasize the ideas of source-filter theory, linking vocal tract configuration to the vowel quadrilateral, with the identities of vowels being associated with formant frequencies (filter peaks).