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[[Image:Human voice spectrogram.jpg|thumb|300px|The [[spectrogram]] of the human voice reveals its rich [[harmonic]] content.]]
 
[[Image:Human voice spectrogram.jpg|thumb|300px|The [[spectrogram]] of the human voice reveals its rich [[harmonic]] content.]]
   
The '''human voice ''' consists of [[sound]] [[Voice production|made]] by a [[human]] using the [[vocal folds]] for [[Speech communication|talking]], [[whispering]], [[singing]], [[Laughter|laughing]], [[crying]], [[screaming]], etc. The vocal folds, in combination with the lips, the tongue, the lower jaw, and the palate, are capable of producing highly intricate arrays of sound.
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The '''human voice ''' consists of [[sound]] [[Voice production|made]] by a [[human being]] using the [[vocal folds]] for [[Speech communication|talking]], [[singing]], [[Laughter|laughing]], [[crying]], [[screaming]], etc. Human voice is specifically that part of human sound production in which the vocal folds (vocal cords) are the primary noise source. Generally speaking, the voice can be subdivided into three parts; the lungs, the vocal folds, and the articulators. The [[lungs|lung]] (the pump) must produce adequate airflow to vibrate vocal folds (air is the fuel of the voice). The vocal folds (vocal cords) are the [[Vibrator (mechanical)|vibrators]], neuromuscular units that ‘fine tune’ [[Pitch (music)|pitch]] and [[Tone (linguistics)|tone]]. The articulators ([[vocal tract]] consisting of [[tongue]], [[Soft palate|palate]], [[cheek]], [[lip|lips]], etc.) [[Manner of articulation|articulate]] and [[Band-pass filter|filter]] the sound.
   
The tone of voice may be modulated to suggest [[emotion]]s such as [[anger]], [[surprise]], or [[happiness]].
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The vocal folds, in combination with the articulators, are capable of producing highly intricate arrays of sound.<ref>Titze, I. R. (2008). The human instrument. Sci.Am. 298 (1):94-101. PM 18225701</ref><ref>Titze, I.R. (1994). Principles of Voice Production, Prentice Hall (currently published by NCVS.org), ISBN 978-0137178933.</ref><ref>Titze, I. R. (2006).The Myoelatic Aerodynamic Theory of Phonation, Iowa City:National Center for Voice and Speech, 2006.</ref> The tone of voice may be modulated to suggest [[emotion]]s such as [[anger]], [[surprise]], or [[happiness]].<ref>Smith BL, Brown BL, Strong WJ, Rencher AC. (1975) Effects of speech rate on personality perception. Lang Speech. 18(2):145-52 PMID: 1195957</ref><ref>Williams CE, Stevens KN.(1972). Emotions and speech: some acoustical correlates. J Acoust Soc Am. 52(4):1238-50 PMID: 4638039</ref> [[Singer]]s use the [[human voice as an instrument]] for creating [[music]].<ref>I. R. Titze, S. Mapes, and B. Story. (1994) Acoustics of the Tenor High Voice. J.Acoust.Soc.Am. 95 (2):1133-1142. PMID: 8132903</ref>
   
[[Singer]]s use the [[human voice as an instrument]] for creating [[music]].
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==Voice types and the folds (cords) themselves==
 
==Voice types and the cords themselves==
 
 
{{main|Vocal folds}}
 
{{main|Vocal folds}}
 
[[Image:Gray1204.png|right|400x400px|thumb|A labeled anatomical diagram of the [[vocal folds]] or cords.]]
 
[[Image:Gray1204.png|right|400x400px|thumb|A labeled anatomical diagram of the [[vocal folds]] or cords.]]
Men and women have different vocal cord sizes; adult male voices are usually lower-pitched and have larger cords. The male vocal cords (which would be measured vertically in the opposite diagram), are between 17 mm and 25 mm in length.<ref name="Musicguides">Page 15, ''[[Yehudi Menuhin]] Music Guides'' - '''Voice''', Edited by Sir Keith Falkner, ISBN 0-356-09099-X</ref>
 
   
Matching the female body, which on the whole has less muscle than the male, females have smaller cords. The female vocal cords are between 12.5 mm and 17.5 mm in length.<ref name="Musicguides"/>
 
   
As seen in the illustration, the cords are located just above the [[vertebrate trachea|trachea]] (the windpipe which travels from the lungs). Food and drink does not pass through the cords but is instead taken through the [[esophagus]], an unlinked tube. Both tubes are separated by the [[epiglottis]], a "flap" that covers the opening of the trachea while swallowing. When food goes down through the cords and trachea (usually happens when the person inhales while swallowing) it causes [[aspiration]] ([[choking]]).
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Men and women have different vocal folds sizes; adult male voices are usually lower-pitched and have larger folds. The male vocal folds (which would be measured vertically in the opposite diagram), are between 17 mm and 25 mm in length.<ref>Thurman, Leon & Welch, ed., Graham (2000), Bodymind & voice: Foundations of voice education (revised ed.), Collegeville, Minnesota: The VoiceCare Network et al., ISBN 0874141230</ref> The female vocal folds are between 12.5 mm and 17.5 mm in length.
   
Cords in both sexes are [[ligament]]s within the [[larynx]]. They are attached at the back (side nearest the spinal cord) to the [[arytenoid]] [[cartilage]]s, and at the front (side under the chin) to the [[thyroid]] cartilage. Their outer edges, as shown in the illustration, are attached to muscle in the larynx while their inner edges or "margins" are free (the hole). They are constructed from [[epithelium]], but they have a few muscle fibers on them, namely the [[vocalis muscle]] which tightens the front part of the ligament near to the thyroid cartilage. They are flat triangular bands and are pearly white in colour&mdash;whiter in females than they are in males. Above both sides of the vocal cord (the hole and the ligament itself) is the [[vestibular fold]] or ''false vocal cord,'' which has a small [[sac]] between its two folds (not illustrated).<ref name="Musicguides"/>
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As seen in the illustration, the folds are located just above the [[vertebrate trachea|trachea]] (the windpipe which travels from the lungs). Food and drink do not pass through the cords but instead pass through the [[esophagus]], an unlinked tube. Both tubes are separated by the [[epiglottis]], a "flap" that covers the opening of the trachea while swallowing.
   
The difference in vocal cord size between men and women means that they have differently pitched voices. Additionally, genetics also causes variances amongst the same sex, with men and women's [[singing]] voices being categorized into types. For example, among men, there are [[Bass (vocal range)|bass]]es, [[baritone]]s and [[tenor]]s, and [[alto]]s, [[mezzo-soprano]]s and [[soprano]]s among women. There are additional categories for [[opera]]tic voices, see [[voice type]].
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The folds in both sexes are within the [[larynx]]. They are attached at the back (side nearest the spinal cord) to the [[arytenoid cartilage]]s, and at the front (side under the chin) to the [[thyroid]] cartilage. They have no outer edge as they blend into the side of the breathing tube (the illustration is out of date and does not show this well) while their inner edges or "margins" are free to vibrate (the hole). They have a three layer construction of an [[epithelium]], vocal ligament, then muscle ([[vocalis muscle]]), which can shorten and bulge the folds. They are flat triangular bands and are pearly white in color. Above both sides of the vocal cord is the [[vestibular fold]] or ''false vocal cord,'' which has a small [[sac]] between its two folds (not illustrated).
   
==Vocal registration==
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The difference in vocal folds size between men and women means that they have differently pitched voices. Additionally, genetics also causes variances amongst the same sex, with men and women's [[singing]] voices being categorized into types. For example, among men, there are [[Bass (vocal range)|bass]]es, [[baritone]]s and [[tenor]]s, and [[contralto]]s, [[mezzo-soprano]]s and [[soprano]]s among women. There are additional categories for [[opera]]tic voices, see [[voice type]]. This is not the only source of difference between male and female voice. Men, generally speaking, have a larger vocal tract, which essentially gives the resultant voice a lower tonal quality. This is mostly independent of the vocal folds themselves.
{{main|Vocal registration}}
 
The human voice is capable in most cases of being a complex instrument. Humans have [[vocal folds]] which can loosen or tighten or change their thickness and over which breath can be transferred at varying pressures. The shape of chest and neck, the position of the tongue, and the tightness of otherwise unrelated muscles can be altered. Any one of these actions results in a change in [[pitch (music)|pitch]], [[loudness|volume]], [[timbre]], or tone of the sound produced.
 
   
One important categorization that can be applied to the sounds singers make relates to the ''register'' or the "voice" that is used. Singers refer to these registers according to the part of the body in which the sound most generally resonates, and which have correspondingly different tonal qualities. There are widely differing opinions and theories about what a register is, how they are produced and how many there are. The distinct change or break between registers is called a [[passaggio]] or a [[ponticello]].<ref name="oxfordDictOperaOne"/> The following definitions refer to the different ranges of the voice.
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==Physiology and vocal timbre==
  +
The sound of each individual's voice is entirely unique not only because of the actual shape and size of an individual's vocal cords but also due to the size and shape of the rest of that person's body. Humans have vocal folds which can loosen, tighten, or change their thickness, and over which breath can be transferred at varying pressures. The shape of chest and neck, the position of the tongue, and the tightness of otherwise unrelated muscles can be altered. Any one of these actions results in a change in pitch, volume, timbre, or tone of the sound produced. Sound also resonates within different parts of the body, and an individual's size and bone structure can affect the sound produced by an individual.
   
=== Speaking voice (Chest) ===
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Singers can also learn to project sound in certain ways so that it resonates better within their vocal tract. This is known as [[vocal resonation]]. Another major influence on vocal sound and production is the function of the larynx which people can manipulate in different ways to produce different sounds. These different kinds of laryngeal function are described as different kinds of [[vocal registers]].<ref name=Vennard>{{cite book
{{main|Manner of articulation|Chest register|Belt (music)}}
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|title= Singing: The Mechanism and the Technic
The [[Chest register|chest voice]] is the register typically used in everyday speech. The first recorded mention of this register was around the 13th century, when it was distinguished from the throat and the head voice (pectoris, guttoris, capitis -- at this time it is likely head voice referred to the falsetto register, see [[falsetto]] article) by the writers Johannes de Garlandia and [[Jerome of Moravia]].<ref name="groveONE">THE NEW GROVE Dictionary of MUSIC & MUSICIANS. Edited by Stanley Sadie, Volume 6. Edmund to Fryklund. ISBN 1-56159-174-2, Copyright Macmillan 1980.</ref>
+
|last= Vennard
  +
|first= William
  +
|year= 1967
  +
|publisher= Carl Fischer
  +
|isbn=13: 978-0825800559}}</ref> The primary method for singers to accomplish this is through the use of the [[formant|Singer's Formant]], which has been shown to match particularly well to the most sensitive part of the [[ear|ear's]] frequency range.<ref>E. J. Hunter and I. R. Titze. Overlap of Hearing and Voicing Ranges in Singing. J.Singing 61 (4):387-392, 2004.</ref><ref>E. J. Hunter, J. G. Svec, and I. R. Titze. Comparison of the Produced and Perceived Voice Range Profiles in Untrained and Trained Classical Singers. J.Voice 2005.</ref>
   
The speaking voice is named as "the chest voice" in the [[Speech Level Singing]] method. It is so called because it can produce the sensation of the sound coming from the upper chest. This is because lower frequency sounds have longer wavelengths, and resonate mostly in the larger cavity of the chest. A person uses the chest voice when singing in the majority of his or her lower range.
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===Vocal registration===
  +
{{main|Vocal registration}}
   
It was discovered via [[stroboscope]] that during ordinary [[phonation]], or speaking in a man that the [[vocal folds]] contact with each other completely during each vibration closing the gap between them fully, if just for a small length of time. This closure cuts off the escaping air. When the air pressure in the trachea rises as a result of this closure, the folds are blown apart, while the vocal processes of the arytenoid cartilages remain in [[apposition]]. This creates an oval shaped gap between the folds and some air escapes, lowering the pressure inside the trachea. Rhythmic repetition of this movement a certain number of times a second creates a pitched note. This is how the chest voice is created.<ref name="groveONE"/>
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'''Vocal registration''' refers to the system of vocal registers within the human voice. A register in the human voice is a particular series of tones, produced in the same vibratory pattern of the [[vocal fold]]s, and possessing the same quality. Registers originate in [[larynx|laryngeal]] function. They occur because the vocal folds are capable of producing several different vibratory patterns. Each of these vibratory patterns appears within a particular [[Vocal range|range]] of [[pitch (music)|pitch]]es and produces certain characteristic sounds.<ref name=Large>{{cite journal
  +
|last=Large
  +
|first= John
  +
|year= 1972
  +
|month= February/March
  +
|title= Towards an Integrated Physiologic-Acoustic Theory of Vocal Registers
  +
|journal= The NATS Bulletin
  +
|volume= 28
  +
|pages= 30–35}}</ref> The term register can be somewhat confusing as it encompasses several aspects of the human voice. The term register can be used to refer to any of the following<ref name = McKinney/>:
   
The tonal qualities of the chest voice are usually described as being rich or full, but can also be [[belt (music)|belt]]ed or forced to make it sound powerful by shouting or screaming.
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* A particular part of the [[vocal range]] such as the upper, middle, or lower registers.
  +
* A [[resonance]] area such as [[chest voice]] or [[head voice]].
  +
* A [[phonation|phonatory]] process
  +
* A certain vocal [[timbre]]
  +
* A region of the voice which is defined or delimited by vocal breaks.
  +
* A subset of a [[language]] used for a particular purpose or in a particular social setting.
   
Use of overly strong chest voice in the higher registers in an attempt to hit higher notes in the chest can lead to forcing. Forcing can lead consequently to vocal deterioration.<ref name="oxfordDictOperaOne">The OXFORD DICTIONARY OF OPERA. JOHN WARRACK AND EWAN WEST, ISBN 0-19-869164-5</ref>
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In [[linguistics]], a '''register language''' is a language which combines [[tone (linguistics)|tone]] and vowel [[phonation]] into a single [[phonology|phonological]] system.
   
=== Falsetto ===
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Within [[speech pathology]] the term vocal register has three constituent elements: a certain vibratory pattern of the vocal folds, a certain series of pitches, and a certain type of sound. Speech pathologists identify four vocal registers based on the physiology of laryngeal function: the [[vocal fry register]], the [[modal register]], the [[falsetto register]], and the [[whistle register]]. This view is also adopted by many vocal pedagogists.<ref name=McKinney />
{{main|Falsetto}}
 
In falsetto, the vocal folds, or cords when viewed with a stroboscope are seen to be blown apart and a permanent oval orifice is left in the middle between the edges of the two folds through which a certain volume of air escapes continuously as long as the register is engaged (the singer is singing using the voice). The arytenoid cartilages are held in firm apposition in this voice register also. The length or size of the oval orifice or separation between the folds can vary, but it is known to get bigger in size as the pressure of air pushed out is increased.<ref name="groveONE"/>
 
   
The folds are made up of elastic and fatty tissue. The folds are covered on the surface by laryngeal mucous membrane which is supported deeper down underneath it by the innermost fibres of the thyro-arytenoid muscle. In falsetto the extreme membranous edges, ie the edges furthest away from the middle of gap between the folds appear to be the only parts vibrating. The mass corresponding to the innermost part of the thyro-arytenoid muscle remains still and motionless.<ref name="groveONE"/>
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===Vocal resonation===
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{{main|Vocal resonation}}
Some singers feel a sense of muscular relief when they change from chest voice to falsetto.<ref name="groveONE"/>
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'''Vocal resonation''' is the process by which the basic product of phonation is enhanced in timbre and/or intensity by the air-filled cavities through which it passes on its way to the outside air. Various terms related to the resonation process include amplification, enrichment, enlargement, improvement, intensification, and prolongation, although in strictly scientific usage acoustic authorities would question most of them. The main point to be drawn from these terms by a singer or speaker is that the end result of resonation is, or should be, to make a better sound.<ref name=McKinney>{{cite book
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|title= The Diagnosis and Correction of Vocal Faults
In women, the falsetto voice refers to the [[whistle register]].
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|last= McKinney
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|first= James
Generally when singers describe their range they exclude the falsetto voice. A [[European Classical Music|classical]] male singer who routinely sings using the falsetto is called a [[countertenor]]. Countertenors tend to count this range. If a singer makes frequent use of their falsetto it may be counted as part of their vocal range.
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|year= 1994
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|publisher= Genovex Music Group
=== Head register ===
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|isbn=13: 978-1565939400}}</ref>
{{main|Head register}}
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There are seven areas that may be listed as possible vocal resonators. In sequence from the lowest within the body to the highest, these areas are the chest, the tracheal tree, the larynx itself, the pharynx, the oral cavity, the nasal cavity, and the sinuses.<ref name=Greene>{{cite book
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|title= The Voice and its Disorders
The head register is used in singing to describe the resonance of singing something feeling to the singer as if it is occurring in their head. It's mentioned in the [[Speech Level Singing]] method used in some singing. All voices have a head register, whether [[basso|bass]] or [[soprano]].<ref name="Headv">{{cite book|last=Clippinger|first=David A.|coauthors=|title=The Head Voice and Other Problems:
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|last= Greene
Practical Talks on Singing|publisher=[[Oliver Ditson Company]]|date=1917|pages= Page 12|month=|isbn =}}</ref> It is not associated with any particular musical pitch, but rather with the resonance of the voice in the head.
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|first= Margaret
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|coauthors= Lesley Mathieson
Often explanations for the physiological mechanisms behind the head voice alter from voice teacher to voice teacher. This is because, according to Clippinger: ''"In discussing the head voice it is the purpose to avoid as much as possible the mechanical construction of the instrument"''.<ref name="Headv3">{{cite book|last=Clippinger|first=David A.|coauthors=|title=The Head Voice and Other Problems:
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|year= 2001
Practical Talks on Singing|publisher=[[Oliver Ditson Company]]|date=1917|pages=Page 14|month=|isbn =}}</ref>
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|publisher= John Wiley & Sons; 6th Edition edition
  +
|isbn=13: 978-1861561961}}</ref>
   
 
==Influences of the human voice==
 
==Influences of the human voice==
 
{{main|Voice projection|Evolution}}
 
{{main|Voice projection|Evolution}}
The [[Chromatic scale|twelve tone musical scale]], upon which most of the world's music is based, may have its roots in the sound of the human voice during the course of [[evolution]], according to a study [[published]] by the [[New Scientist]]. Analysis of recorded speech samples found peaks in acoustic energy that mirrored the distances between notes in the twelve-tone scale.<ref>http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn4031</ref>
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The [[Chromatic scale|twelve-tone musical scale]], upon which the majority of the world's music is based, may have its roots in the sound of the human voice during the course of [[evolution]], according to a study [[published]] by the [[New Scientist]]. Analysis of recorded speech samples found peaks in acoustic energy that mirrored the distances between notes in the twelve-tone scale.<ref>[http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn4031 Musical roots may lie in human voice - 06 August 2003 - New Scientist<!-- Bot generated title -->]</ref>
   
 
==Voice disorders==
 
==Voice disorders==
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{{refimprove|section|date=July 2007}}
 
{{refimprove|section|date=July 2007}}
There are many [[Voice disorders|disorders]] which affect the human voice; these include [[speech impediment]]s, and growths and lesions on the [[vocal folds]]. Talking improperly for long periods of time causes [[vocal loading]] which is stress inflicted on the [[speech organs]]. When vocal injury is done, often a [[Otorhinolaryngology#Laryngology|ENT]] specialist may be able to help, but the best treatment is the prevention of injuries through good vocal production.
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There are many [[Voice disorders|disorders]] which affect the human voice; these include [[speech impediment]]s, and growths and [[Vocal fold nodule|lesions]] on the [[vocal folds]]. Talking for improperly long periods of time causes [[vocal loading]], which is stress inflicted on the [[speech organs]]. When vocal injury is done, often an [[Otorhinolaryngology#Laryngology|ENT]] specialist may be able to help, but the best treatment is the prevention of injuries through good vocal production. Voice therapy is generally delivered by a [[Speech-language pathologist]].
  +
  +
[[Dysphonia|Hoarseness]] or breathiness that lasts for more than two weeks is a common symptom of an underlying voice disorder and should be investigated medically.
  +
  +
==See also==
  +
{{multicol}}
  +
*[[Accent (linguistics)]]
  +
*[[Acoustic phonetics]]
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*[[Communication]]
  +
*[[Infant vocalization]]
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*[[Manner of articulation]]
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*[[Nonverbal communication]]
  +
*[[Oral communication]]
  +
*[[Phonation]]
  +
*[[Phonetics]]
  +
*[[Puberty#Voice change|Voice change in boys]]
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*[[Speaker recognition]]
  +
*[[Speaker verification]]
  +
*[[Speech Synthesis]]
  +
{{multicol-break}}
  +
*[[Vocal loading]]
  +
*[[Vocal rest]]
  +
*[[Vocology]]
  +
*[[Voice analysis]]
  +
*[[Voice disorders]]
  +
*[[Voice frequency]]
  +
*[[Voice organ]]
  +
*[[Voice pedagogy]]
  +
*[[Voice projection]]
  +
*[[Voice synthesis]]
  +
{{multicol-end}}
   
 
==Footnotes==
 
==Footnotes==
 
{{reflist}}
 
{{reflist}}
  +
<references/>
   
 
==Further reading==
 
==Further reading==
   
 
* Puts, D. A., Gaulin, S. J. C., & Verdolini, K. (2006). Dominance and the evolution of sexual dimorphism in human voice pitch. ''Evolution and Human Behavior, 27:'' 283-296. [http://www.anth.ucsb.edu/faculty/gaulin/Puts_Gaulin_Verdolini_2006.pdf Full text]
 
* Puts, D. A., Gaulin, S. J. C., & Verdolini, K. (2006). Dominance and the evolution of sexual dimorphism in human voice pitch. ''Evolution and Human Behavior, 27:'' 283-296. [http://www.anth.ucsb.edu/faculty/gaulin/Puts_Gaulin_Verdolini_2006.pdf Full text]
+
* Titze, I. R. (2008). The human instrument. Sci.Am. 298 (1):94-101. PM 18225701
== See also ==
+
* Thurman, Leon & Welch, ed., Graham (2000), Bodymind & voice: Foundations of voice education (revised ed.), Collegeville, Minnesota: The VoiceCare Network et al., ISBN 0874141230
{{wiktionarypar|voice|vocal}}
 
{{wikibooks|singing}}
 
* [[Voice synthesis]]
 
* [[Voice pedagogy]]
 
* [[Speaker recognition]]
 
* [[Speaker verification]]
 
* [[Phonation]]
 
* [[Vocal loading]]
 
* [[Voice analysis]]
 
* [[Voice frequency]]
 
* [[Puberty#Voice change|Voice change in boys]]
 
* [[Voice disorders]]
 
* [[Voice organ]]
 
* [[Phonetics]]
 
* [[Belt (music)]]
 
* [[Nonverbal communication]]
 
* [[Voice projection]]
 
   
 
==External links==
 
==External links==
 
*[http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/resource/sfs/wasp.htm Free Voice analyzer and Biometrics displaying software from [[University College London]]]
 
*[http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/resource/sfs/wasp.htm Free Voice analyzer and Biometrics displaying software from [[University College London]]]
 
*[http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/19493 The Head Voice and Other Problems], 1917, by D. A. Clippinger, from [[Project Gutenberg]]
 
*[http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/19493 The Head Voice and Other Problems], 1917, by D. A. Clippinger, from [[Project Gutenberg]]
*[http://www.singingvoice.net Singing Voice]
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*[http://www.voicefoundation.org/ The Voice Foundation's official website]
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*[http://www.singwise.com/cgi-bin/main.pl?section=articles&doc=AnatomyOfVoice The Anatomy of Singing]
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  +
[[Category:Phonetics]]
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[[Category:Voice]]
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[[Category:Verbal communication]]
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[[Category:Vocal music]]
   
[[Category:Human voice]]
 
[[Category:Voice registers]]
 
 
<!--
 
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[[es:Voz (fonología)]]
 
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[[eu:Ahots]]
 
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[[fr:Voix (instrument)]]
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[[fiu-vro:Inemise helü]]
 
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[[zh:人聲]]
 
--->
 
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{{enWP|Human voice}}

Latest revision as of 17:17, December 21, 2008

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File:Human voice spectrogram.jpg

The human voice consists of sound made by a human being using the vocal folds for talking, singing, laughing, crying, screaming, etc. Human voice is specifically that part of human sound production in which the vocal folds (vocal cords) are the primary noise source. Generally speaking, the voice can be subdivided into three parts; the lungs, the vocal folds, and the articulators. The lung (the pump) must produce adequate airflow to vibrate vocal folds (air is the fuel of the voice). The vocal folds (vocal cords) are the vibrators, neuromuscular units that ‘fine tune’ pitch and tone. The articulators (vocal tract consisting of tongue, palate, cheek, lips, etc.) articulate and filter the sound.

The vocal folds, in combination with the articulators, are capable of producing highly intricate arrays of sound.[1][2][3] The tone of voice may be modulated to suggest emotions such as anger, surprise, or happiness.[4][5] Singers use the human voice as an instrument for creating music.[6]

Voice types and the folds (cords) themselvesEdit

Main article: Vocal folds
File:Gray1204.png


Men and women have different vocal folds sizes; adult male voices are usually lower-pitched and have larger folds. The male vocal folds (which would be measured vertically in the opposite diagram), are between 17 mm and 25 mm in length.[7] The female vocal folds are between 12.5 mm and 17.5 mm in length.

As seen in the illustration, the folds are located just above the trachea (the windpipe which travels from the lungs). Food and drink do not pass through the cords but instead pass through the esophagus, an unlinked tube. Both tubes are separated by the epiglottis, a "flap" that covers the opening of the trachea while swallowing.

The folds in both sexes are within the larynx. They are attached at the back (side nearest the spinal cord) to the arytenoid cartilages, and at the front (side under the chin) to the thyroid cartilage. They have no outer edge as they blend into the side of the breathing tube (the illustration is out of date and does not show this well) while their inner edges or "margins" are free to vibrate (the hole). They have a three layer construction of an epithelium, vocal ligament, then muscle (vocalis muscle), which can shorten and bulge the folds. They are flat triangular bands and are pearly white in color. Above both sides of the vocal cord is the vestibular fold or false vocal cord, which has a small sac between its two folds (not illustrated).

The difference in vocal folds size between men and women means that they have differently pitched voices. Additionally, genetics also causes variances amongst the same sex, with men and women's singing voices being categorized into types. For example, among men, there are basses, baritones and tenors, and contraltos, mezzo-sopranos and sopranos among women. There are additional categories for operatic voices, see voice type. This is not the only source of difference between male and female voice. Men, generally speaking, have a larger vocal tract, which essentially gives the resultant voice a lower tonal quality. This is mostly independent of the vocal folds themselves.

Physiology and vocal timbreEdit

The sound of each individual's voice is entirely unique not only because of the actual shape and size of an individual's vocal cords but also due to the size and shape of the rest of that person's body. Humans have vocal folds which can loosen, tighten, or change their thickness, and over which breath can be transferred at varying pressures. The shape of chest and neck, the position of the tongue, and the tightness of otherwise unrelated muscles can be altered. Any one of these actions results in a change in pitch, volume, timbre, or tone of the sound produced. Sound also resonates within different parts of the body, and an individual's size and bone structure can affect the sound produced by an individual.

Singers can also learn to project sound in certain ways so that it resonates better within their vocal tract. This is known as vocal resonation. Another major influence on vocal sound and production is the function of the larynx which people can manipulate in different ways to produce different sounds. These different kinds of laryngeal function are described as different kinds of vocal registers.[8] The primary method for singers to accomplish this is through the use of the Singer's Formant, which has been shown to match particularly well to the most sensitive part of the ear's frequency range.[9][10]

Vocal registrationEdit

Main article: Vocal registration

Vocal registration refers to the system of vocal registers within the human voice. A register in the human voice is a particular series of tones, produced in the same vibratory pattern of the vocal folds, and possessing the same quality. Registers originate in laryngeal function. They occur because the vocal folds are capable of producing several different vibratory patterns. Each of these vibratory patterns appears within a particular range of pitches and produces certain characteristic sounds.[11] The term register can be somewhat confusing as it encompasses several aspects of the human voice. The term register can be used to refer to any of the following[12]:

  • A particular part of the vocal range such as the upper, middle, or lower registers.
  • A resonance area such as chest voice or head voice.
  • A phonatory process
  • A certain vocal timbre
  • A region of the voice which is defined or delimited by vocal breaks.
  • A subset of a language used for a particular purpose or in a particular social setting.

In linguistics, a register language is a language which combines tone and vowel phonation into a single phonological system.

Within speech pathology the term vocal register has three constituent elements: a certain vibratory pattern of the vocal folds, a certain series of pitches, and a certain type of sound. Speech pathologists identify four vocal registers based on the physiology of laryngeal function: the vocal fry register, the modal register, the falsetto register, and the whistle register. This view is also adopted by many vocal pedagogists.[12]

Vocal resonationEdit

Main article: Vocal resonation

Vocal resonation is the process by which the basic product of phonation is enhanced in timbre and/or intensity by the air-filled cavities through which it passes on its way to the outside air. Various terms related to the resonation process include amplification, enrichment, enlargement, improvement, intensification, and prolongation, although in strictly scientific usage acoustic authorities would question most of them. The main point to be drawn from these terms by a singer or speaker is that the end result of resonation is, or should be, to make a better sound.[12] There are seven areas that may be listed as possible vocal resonators. In sequence from the lowest within the body to the highest, these areas are the chest, the tracheal tree, the larynx itself, the pharynx, the oral cavity, the nasal cavity, and the sinuses.[13]

Influences of the human voiceEdit

Main article: Voice projection

The twelve-tone musical scale, upon which the majority of the world's music is based, may have its roots in the sound of the human voice during the course of evolution, according to a study published by the New Scientist. Analysis of recorded speech samples found peaks in acoustic energy that mirrored the distances between notes in the twelve-tone scale.[14]

Voice disordersEdit

Main article: Vocal loading


There are many disorders which affect the human voice; these include speech impediments, and growths and lesions on the vocal folds. Talking for improperly long periods of time causes vocal loading, which is stress inflicted on the speech organs. When vocal injury is done, often an ENT specialist may be able to help, but the best treatment is the prevention of injuries through good vocal production. Voice therapy is generally delivered by a Speech-language pathologist.

Hoarseness or breathiness that lasts for more than two weeks is a common symptom of an underlying voice disorder and should be investigated medically.

See alsoEdit


FootnotesEdit

  1. Titze, I. R. (2008). The human instrument. Sci.Am. 298 (1):94-101. PM 18225701
  2. Titze, I.R. (1994). Principles of Voice Production, Prentice Hall (currently published by NCVS.org), ISBN 978-0137178933.
  3. Titze, I. R. (2006).The Myoelatic Aerodynamic Theory of Phonation, Iowa City:National Center for Voice and Speech, 2006.
  4. Smith BL, Brown BL, Strong WJ, Rencher AC. (1975) Effects of speech rate on personality perception. Lang Speech. 18(2):145-52 PMID: 1195957
  5. Williams CE, Stevens KN.(1972). Emotions and speech: some acoustical correlates. J Acoust Soc Am. 52(4):1238-50 PMID: 4638039
  6. I. R. Titze, S. Mapes, and B. Story. (1994) Acoustics of the Tenor High Voice. J.Acoust.Soc.Am. 95 (2):1133-1142. PMID: 8132903
  7. Thurman, Leon & Welch, ed., Graham (2000), Bodymind & voice: Foundations of voice education (revised ed.), Collegeville, Minnesota: The VoiceCare Network et al., ISBN 0874141230
  8. Vennard, William (1967). Singing: The Mechanism and the Technic, Carl Fischer.
  9. E. J. Hunter and I. R. Titze. Overlap of Hearing and Voicing Ranges in Singing. J.Singing 61 (4):387-392, 2004.
  10. E. J. Hunter, J. G. Svec, and I. R. Titze. Comparison of the Produced and Perceived Voice Range Profiles in Untrained and Trained Classical Singers. J.Voice 2005.
  11. Large, John (February/March 1972). Towards an Integrated Physiologic-Acoustic Theory of Vocal Registers. The NATS Bulletin 28: 30–35.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 McKinney, James (1994). The Diagnosis and Correction of Vocal Faults, Genovex Music Group.
  13. Greene, Margaret; Lesley Mathieson (2001). The Voice and its Disorders, John Wiley & Sons; 6th Edition edition.
  14. Musical roots may lie in human voice - 06 August 2003 - New Scientist


Further readingEdit

  • Puts, D. A., Gaulin, S. J. C., & Verdolini, K. (2006). Dominance and the evolution of sexual dimorphism in human voice pitch. Evolution and Human Behavior, 27: 283-296. Full text
  • Titze, I. R. (2008). The human instrument. Sci.Am. 298 (1):94-101. PM 18225701
  • Thurman, Leon & Welch, ed., Graham (2000), Bodymind & voice: Foundations of voice education (revised ed.), Collegeville, Minnesota: The VoiceCare Network et al., ISBN 0874141230

External linksEdit

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