How the Voice Works

Tomorrow is World Voice Day! So I thought I should write a little post about how the voice works. Having never written about the physiology of the voice before, I thought I would start with what we actually useful vocal production in our bodies.

There isn’t much simple information available online about voice production, so today I will break the voice down into four sections:

1. Air Supply

We wouldn’t get very far without this. The lungs act as the bellows and move the air supply in voice production. Like with any wind or reed instrument, there would be no sound without the air passing through.

To help the lungs move the air in and out of the body we also use:

  1. Diaphragm
  2. Chest muscles
  3. Abdominal muscles
  4. Ribs

2. Larynx

This is the most complex part of the human voice. It is sometimes called the voice box. It is the home of the vocal folds (also known as vocal chords). The vocal folds act as the reed in our instrument. The sound is created by the air pressure causing the vocal folds to vibrate. This sound we create is a pure tone.

The other main function of the Larynx is to change the pitch of the sound. Simply put, the larynx moves up or down to raise or lower the pitch. The pitch changes as this movement changes the tension in the vocal folds.

3. Articulators

So far we have managed to create a pure tone or sound wave with the basic use of our lungs and vocal folds. So how do we create different sounds such as consonants? By manipulating the sound wave into different shapes.

To do this we use:

  1. Tongue
  2. Palette
  3. Teeth
  4. Lips

4. Resonators

Now we have created the sound it needs to be amplified. This happens when the sound resonates in certain parts of the body:

  1. Throat
  2. Oral Cavity
  3. Nasal Cavity
  4. Chest
  5. Head
  6. Skeleton

This is a simple as I could make it! There is so much going on during human vocal production, but I hope this has given you a little insight into what is happening when you sing or speak. Look out for future posts where I will go into more detail. I’d love to hear from you in the comments section or a private message.

And for tomorrow:

Happy World Voice Day!

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