Vocal range location is an important vocal affective signal. Humans use different areas of their vocal range to communicate emotional intensity. Consequently, humans are good at identifying where someone is speaking within their vocal range. Research on music and emotion has demonstrated that musical expressive behaviors often reflect or take inspiration from vocal expressive behaviors. Is it possible for musicians to utilize range-related signals on their instrument similarly to how humans use vocal range-related signals? Might musicians therefore be similarly sensitive to instrumental range location? We present two experiments that investigate musicians’ ability to hear instrumental range location, specifically string register location on the violoncello. Experiment 1 is a behavioral study that tests whether musicians can reliably distinguish between higher and lower string register locations. In Experiment 2, we analyze acoustic features that could be impacted by string register location. Our results support the conjecture that musicians can reliably discriminate between string register locations, although perhaps only when vibrato is utilized. Our results also suggest that higher string register locations have a darker timbre and possibly a wider and faster vibrato. Further research on whether musicians can effectively imitate vocal range location signals with their instruments is warranted.

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