The Human Voice – How It Works

Angelo Consiglio pic
Angelo Consiglio

Angelo Consiglio, MD has practiced as an otolaryngologist for more than 30 years. Trained extensively in the care of the voice and its relevant anatomy, Dr. Angelo Consiglio has presented on the anatomy and physiology of the larynx and on disorders of the vocal folds.

The human voice requires the coordinated efforts of the lungs, the larynx, and the resonating chambers of the head. When a person exhales, he or she expels air through the trachea and causes vibrations in the chambers of the larynx. The larynx, a cylinder of cartilage located at the anterior of the throat, contains the vocal folds that produce sound.

As air passes the vocal folds and activates this tissue, it creates a pattern of repetitive movement. This movement, when it occurs at a frequency of 100 to 1,000 times per second, manifests as sound. The pitch of the sound depends on the tension in the vocal folds, as well as on the structure of the folds themselves.

On its own, the sound produced by the vocal folds is an indistinct buzzing. As these vibrations move upward into the head, however, they pass through resonators in the upper throat, mouth, nose, and sinuses. These structures form the passing vibrations into sounds that the human ear recognizes as sound or speech.