Blog February 2015

The Voice: Piercing the Mystery

Posted On: February 19, 2015
The voice
Is an instinctive, complicated, process that people use every day as a form of communication; and have been for millions of years.  In fact, 'the voice' can also be applied to the animal kingdom, as well.  In simple terms, the voice is the movement of air (from the lungs) over vocal folds, up the trachea (windpipe) and out through the mouth- creating sound.  It's the evolution and refining of those sounds is where we are, as humans, today.  Within the animal kingdom defining what those sounds mean and how they're interpretted is another subject; although, I suppose you could apply that concept to the way some people speak, too.

Like a radio, anyone can “turn it on” anytime and anywhere, but only few know how it really works. To pierce the mystery of the voice, one needs to understand how it works – there's the power source, the vibratory source, and the amplification.



Power Source
The power behind the voice, is breathing.  Breathing is essential; with each breath, the diaphragm (muscles that separate the lungs from the stomach) expand downwards. This allows an individual to take in as much air as needed to power the voice for speaking. During speech, air travels from the lungs to the windpipe (trachea) before reaching the vocal folds (larynx) at the top of the windpipe and out through the mouth. 


Vibratory source
When exhaled air from the lungs reaches the voice box, the vibration of the vocal folds produces sound. The pair of vocal folds forms a ‘V’ shape during quiet, relaxed, breathing. During voicing, the left and right vocal folds come together and oscillate (in an opening and closing movement), producing a tiny “buzzing” sound. The sound produced is then carried by the air molecules upwards along the throat and out through the mouth.


The sound gets amplified and becomes audible through the various spaces in the throat, mouth and even nose. Typically, sound amplification through the mouth and nose is regarded as the most efficient. Additionally, the lips, tongue and teeth help shape the sounds, enabling us to pronounce words and phrases used in speech.

by Rich Brennan

Source:  Speech therapy dept. at Singapore General Hospital.

All information provided within this blog is intended for general information and is provided with the understanding that no recommendation, surgical and/or medical advice is being rendered. Please do not disregard the professional advice of your physician