Origin of the voice

How does the voice form in our larynx?

The oscillation of the vocal chords or vocal folds produces sounds. The two ligaments, which are covered with mucosa, lie horizontally in the larynx. This is located in the upper part of the trachea.

When you inhale, your vocal folds are open and relaxed so that the air can flow in. When you produce a tone, the vocal folds tense and become tight. The ascending airflow pushes against it. (Subglotteraler Druck) This is how your vocal chords start to vibrate.

The air jet is permanently chopped up by the vocal folds. Air discs with more or less air pressure are produced alternately. This is how sound waves are created. If the tone is changed, the chopping will be faster or slower. 

More air discs produce a higher frequency, i.e. a higher tone. This happens about 300 times per second.

The tones are further formed by the air in the pharynx – in the mouth – and the nasal cavity. Tongue and lips form noises, sounds, words and melodies. The interplay between breathing technique, posture and vocal folds plays an important role in sound generation.

The resonant spaces in our bodies
act like loudspeakers.

The primary laryngeal tone sounds more like a rough, buzzing noise. In your body it is amplified and “shaped”, it gets its volume so that it becomes audible to the human ear. 

First of all, these tasks fulfill the resonance spaces of your head. Which body parts, for example, would be resonant spaces? The oral cavities, the pharynx, and the nasal cavities. 

They’re like loudspeakers. Actually, your whole body acts as a resonance space. If you sing or speak particularly loudly, you will feel how your whole body is being used. The resonance spaces amplify your sound and give it its individual colour.

The sound of the voice

You have certainly heard of the term timbre. Every human being has an unmistakable timbre: pharynx, mouth and nose, teeth position, tongue, lip shape: the entire anatomy of the resonating chambers determines your timbre. 

But: You can also do a lot for a more beautiful timbre through voice training! Only when you have harmonized the interaction of all relevant muscles can your true, natural timbre emerge.

Now you can even play with your timbre. It makes a big difference whether you choose a classical technique, pop, jazz or musical singing. And yet: If two fully trained singers sing with the same technique, the same tones will sound individual!

origin of the voice

High and low voices

The anatomy of your larynx determines whether you have a high or low voice. Their vocal pitch is genetically determined. The longer and thicker your vocal folds are, the deeper your voice is. Narrower and shorter vocal folds indicate higher voices.

So you can get an idea: The vocal chords of babies are about six millimeters long. A soprano has vocal folds about 15 millimetres long, in a full-grown man it can even be 25 millimetres. That would be a very deep bass voice.

The psyche also determines the sound of the voice

In addition to the unmistakable timbre and good voice formation, the mind is also decisive for the timbre: Observe it on people who are particularly close to you. – You can usually tell by your voice on the phone whether your friends are feeling good or sad. 

All states of mind are reflected in the voice. They influence the breath, which in turn influences the sound of the voice. As a singer you learn to control this. We must be able to express all feelings clearly through the voice.

But if you want to bring your feelings into the music, you have to be careful: Depression can make your voice sound weak and flabby; there is no tension in your body. 

Your voice is no longer able to carry with breath and indistinctness and is hardly present. If your euphoria is too great, your voice can overturn with joy. So you are facing a great task when you sing emotionally charged songs. 

Listen to Pamina’s aria, “Ach, ich fühl`s” With the help of very good vocal training and acting lessons, they must find a way to spread the deeply sad idea of suicide throughout the entire hall. 

However, your body needs a lot of tension for the high, quiet and long tones…

If you are euphoric, it is easier for you to produce high tones. Remember the last time you cheered? They automatically gave off high, loud tones. With a joyful coloratura aria, however, you still need good control and body control. 

Their challenge now is to combine exuberant joy and control. Best so that the audience only notices the liberating feelings of happiness. It mustn’t look like work.

„sing expressively and from your heart“

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Susanna Proskura

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Dipl. classical singer
Dipl. vocal pedagogue
Dipl. Concert Singing
Dipl. Art Song
(Munich Conservatory of Music)