Mechanics of the Human Voice

Hello daoMoments friend!

In today´s blog I will be presenting a rough overview of the inner workings (mechanics) of the human voice as well as addressing the question why you should know it.

In the opening chapter of his book “The Technics of Bel Canto” (1905) G.B. Lamperti writes:

“The Vocal Organs may be described briefly as a pipe with double-reed, blown by means of diaphragm and lungs.”

I find this description and analogy easy to understand when we take a closer look at the anatomic parts of human voice (instrument) and mechanics that sets the instrument in motion.

Why should you learn about it?

1. By understanding your instrument better, you can take your performance to the next level

2. You will not feel limited by the insufficient technique

3. You will feel more confident about the performance and will be able to concentrate on expression and connecting with your audience

I find this to be important for all of those who are working with their voices – singers, actors, public speakers, presenters, tv/radio hosts, voice-over speakers, teachers, voice enthusiasts as well as for all of those who wish to sound more powerful and command more attention when they speak.

So, let see how the human instrument work.

Vocal instrument is made of anatomic components which are interacting with each other in a particular way. The anatomic parts of your body can be divided in 3 subsystems (air-pressure system, vibratory system and resonating system) which have specific roles in voice production.

1. Air pressure system

Air flows in (inspiration) and out (expiration) of the lungs. Voice production starts with the moment of air movement from the lungs (expiration) into the trachea where the pressure of the air wave travels up to the larynx and set the vocal folds (vocal cords) in vibration. This first movement or impulse is initiated by diaphragm, intercostal and abdominal muscles. See the video for the 3D demonstration.

2. Vibratory system

The voice box (larynx) and vocal folds (sometimes called vocal cords) comprise the vibratory system of the voice mechanism.

(see )

This is the place where an air wave turns into a sound wave.

3. Resonating System

The vocal tract is comprised of resonators which give a personal quality to the voice, and the modifiers or articulators which form sound into voiced sounds. (see )

See the Table 1 Column Voice Organs for the vocal tract overview.

In other words, the sound wave is amplified and enriched in body cavities.

Besides the resonators of vocal tract there is also a rib cage resonator (chest resonator). On a more subtle level we can think of the whole body as a resonant chamber. The voiced sound is a well articulated and resonant personal vocal sound.

So – that´s it!….and there´s a whole science behind it. :)

...but I hope that by reading this article you will gain a rough overview of the inner workings of this awesome instrument!

Ciao from Graz and wishing you all great Sunday!

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