Transvocality: Voice banking and song making

Professor Nicola Dibben from the Department of Music, with colleagues from Computer Science, and collaborators Coda Nicolaeff, Ilā Kamalgharan and Trans Voices, share their project Transvocality for Pride Month 2023.

Singer performing on stage

An individual’s voice is a central part of their identity. It’s an important means of self expression and connection with others, but also a source of anxiety for those experiencing gender dysphoria, a sense of unease some people experience when there’s a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity. So what happens when an individual transitions, especially if their voice is an important part of their musical identity?

We are working with the founders of Trans Voices (the UK’s first professional trans+ choir), singer Coda Nicolaeff and music creator Ilā Kamalgharan. Together with a group of Masters students from Computer Science we’re creating software to compose with vocal material banked prior to and after gender affirmation healthcare. Building on technical precedents in sample matching technologies, and musical precedents in extended vocal techniques, lip synching and drag performance, the software tool will call up banked vocal samples which Coda and Ilā incorporate into their studio workflow to create new music. They are documenting and reflecting on the lived experience of their creative and vocal identity during this process. The project creates new ways for singers to explore their vocal identity, advances understanding of the role of the voice and creative expression in gender identity, and offers a way of valuing trans musicians and voices, and help make them heard, literally and metaphorically.

The project has been funded by a Small Project Award from the Arts and Humanities Knowledge Exchange Fund, 2022-23, and is the subject of a Darwin research project in Computer Science and a funded PhD starting in September 2023 supervised by the project team.

Singer performing on stage

Project team


  • Coda Nicolaeff 
  • Ilā Kamalgharan
  • Trans Voices

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