The ability to communicate and relay our opinions is one of the greatest advantages of being human. As men gained control over the sounds their mouths make to form sentences, the doorway to a world was opened – a world that now has songs, speeches, and everything the modern civilization has to offer. This would not have been possible without men establishing their unique voice.
Most scientists believe that the voice of a person is unique, much like their fingerprints; this may be true since our voices are dependent on the anatomy of the VOCAL CORDS and two people having the same anatomy is a reach, thus leading to distinct voices. While the distinction between voices may be challenging to recognize at first, our ears tend to get adapted to the minute details of a person’s voice, especially a close individual – like parents or friends.
People have based their bread-and-butter on their voices and they have been rewarded for this achievement at a grand level. Many people have tried their hand at singing but seldom accomplish success. The fact is, most singers undergo years of training in music to make their voices suitable for singing – although, theoretically, everyone can sing. While some might be able to sing naturally, most would have to undergo some training to train their vocal cords to be consistent, smooth, and able to shift PITCH.
How is the voice generated?
The human voice is orchestrated by three structures, namely the lungs, the LARYNX (voice box), and the ARTICULATORS. Vocal cords refer to the folds observed within the voice box. The lungs act as a pump to generate enough air pressure to vibrate the vocal cords, which can produce audible pulses. The occurrence of these vibrations is called the FREQUENCY. The laryngeal muscles moderate the vocal cords to control the PITCH and tone.
The pitch is dependent on a variety of factors – the frequency of vibration, the length of the vocal cords, and the tension exerted on the vocal cords. The articulates aid the larynx to perfect the tone to express the corresponding emotion. The intricacy of the interaction of the articulates with the vocal cords results in a broad array of sounds. The RESONANCE of the voice – as aided by the nose, the sinuses, the pharynx, and the oral cavity – can also determine the way it sounds.
Why do voices sound different?
Since there are three organs of the human body working in tandem to generate a voice, slight moderations even in one of the organs can produce different sounds. So, the diversity of voices is due to the slight changes in the anatomy and extent of moderations of the vocal cords. The system generating sound, like many other organs, change with time and so people’s voices can change with age.
An instance of change of voice is during PUBERTY. As various sex hormones induce changes in the body, the voice is one which undergoes a drastic change. Before puberty, the vocal cords of both girls and boys are thin and have a high frequency. During puberty, TESTOSTERONE acts on the vocal cords, making larynx larger and lowering the frequency – the resultant voice produced is deep and low-pitched. Women undergo a similar transition but the extent of enlargement of vocal cords is much less and the frequency is conserved, so women tend to sound high-pitched.
However, hormones may be potent molecules, but still exhibit some difference in their activity depending on the individual. Thus, even though everyone undergoes puberty to experience the same changes, the extent might differ. As it was mentioned above, the presence of three organs to generate a voice can cause ambiguity, but the fact that there is an effect of hormones on voice is also responsible for the unique voices.
Hormonal influences factor into the type of voice produced and the emotions associated with it. Excitement and happiness entail an increase in pitch, while sadness may cause a deeper voice. A significant hormonal impact on vocal cords is observed when a woman speaks to man to woo him – with a slight height in pitch. A man’s brain perceives this high pitch to the higher reproductive ability of the woman as caused by higher levels of sex hormones. While this response – of both the man and the woman – may not be a conscious one, humans have been biologically wired to perform in this manner.
The health of an individual can cause influence their voice. Voice is resonated by the nose, PHARYNX, the oral cavity, and the sinuses. In a disease like a common cold, where patients experience a runny nose, a distinct change is observed in the voice. Speech impairments and neurological conditions can also an effect on the voice. A routine of sessions with a speech therapist will improve such a disorder.
A voice is perceived on the way it is resonated as well as it is received by the listener. A trained ear can distinguish voices, primarily based on the frequency generated. For females, the voice types are SOPRANO, MEZZO–SOPRANO, and CONTRALTO while for males, there are COUNTERENOR, TENOR, BARITONE, and BASS. These terminologies are extensively used in the music industry to classify singers. This classification maintains the integrity of the song while ensuring the best performance.
To summarise, we are acquitted with the voices of the people we are close with; we may also be able to detect a slight change in their voices because our ears have sensitized to them. The range of voices prevalent is a testimony to the individuality of humans – which includes small differences in the anatomy of the larynx, hormones, health, and resonating organs. No matter the voice we are predisposed to have, our voices can be under our control by undergoing training and practicing techniques which may not exert excessive tension on our vocal cords.