May 2, 2011

How is the voice made?

(1) The parts that make the voice
The voice is created by the vocal organs, such as the lungs, larynx, pharynx, mouth, and lips. Air pressure from the lungs creates a vibration in the air through the larynx, and passes through the pharynx (back of the throat) to form a timbre, which then passes through the mouth and lips and is made into an understandable sound. Thus, the voice is made through the harmonic procedure of vocal organs moving according to the systematic and sophisticated signal from the cerebrum.
The vocal organs mainly consist of 4 kinds.
1. The Generator: It controls the breath from the lungs. The flow of air created when breathing is the main energy that vibrates the vocal folds. If there is no flow of air through the larynx, then a sound cannot be made in the vocal folds. Therefore, the voice is greatly influenced by the condition of the lungs and how you breathe.
2. The Vibrator: This refers to the larynx, especially the vocal folds that are inside the larynx. The vocal folds are simply involved in producing the vibration. Rich sound or articulation is produced by the ‘resonator’ and the ‘articulator’ located in the upper area of the larynx.
[The structure of the larynx]

3. The Resonator: This refers to the area above the vocal folds, and it comprises the pharynx. The resonator is the space back of the mouth which creates different tones or qualities of voice. For instance, a well trained opera singer controls the resonator and makes resonances at 2500 hertz in order for the voice to be heard clearly without being absorbed in the sounds played by the orchestra. Voice problems related to this resonator do not usually occur. However, when a singer gets a surgical removal of the tonsils, it affects the resonator and can change the voice.
4. The Articulator: The tongue, lips, cheek, teeth, and the soft palate are included here. These organs modify the sounds to create words or speech. Although medical disorders related to the articulator are not common, articulation problems found in singers can be corrected their voice advisors.
Therefore, a problem in just one of the 4 vocal organs can cause voice disorder. The most common voice disorders occur when problems are found in the vibrator, that is, the vocal folds inside the larynx.
(2) Production of voice
The vibrator, or larynx, not only makes the sound, but also works as a protector that prevents the swallowed food from entering the airway, and as a way through which one can breathe.
The two bar-like structures called vocal folds, covered by a mucous membrane, move toward each other to bring a vibration in the membrane and cause fluctuations in the air to make a sound.
View the movement of normal vocal folds

The muscles of the vocal folds are forced apart by the increasing air pressure from the lungs, letting air go through again. Then the muscles of the vocal folds contract again by the Bernoulli effect (high velocity in the flow of a fluid causes a decrease in pressure). This process continues in a periodic cycle that is felt as a vibration, creating sound waves and sounds.
The sound made in the vocal folds passes through the resonator and is modified according to the position and shape of vocal organs, resulting in different tones and qualities of sound. This determines the characteristics of each individual’s voice.

Written by Yeson Voice Center

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