Human voice

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Spectrogram of a female voice
Female voice speaks two sentences in two different ways.

The human voice (in medical jargon, Latin vōx or Greek φωνή phoné ) is the sound generated by the vocal folds of a person and modulated in the mouth, throat and nasal cavities .

The voice is involved in various utterances of sounds, such as screaming , crying , laughing and most importantly in the articulation of speech . However, not every speech sound is voiced . Completely voiceless speaking is also possible and is called whispering .

When singing , the human voice is used like a musical instrument to generate tones , sounds and melodies , usually combined with language.

Voice generation

Glottis and vocal cords

The human voice is generated by the interaction of the vocal folds in the larynx and the attachment spaces .

The larynx forms the upper end of the windpipe, it lies in the front of the neck and is often clearly recognizable as Adam's apple , especially in men . In the larynx, the two vocal cords are tense, complex muscle and tissue layers, the position and tension of which can be changed by muscles, cartilage and joints. The vocal folds can close the windpipe except for a small gap. This narrowest point in the larynx is known as the glottis . It is opened wide for breathing by abduction of the relaxed vocal folds so that air can flow in and out unhindered. In order to generate voiced tones, the air flowing out of the lungs sets the vocal folds, which are closed except for a narrow gap, in vibration, similar to the reed of a woodwind instrument . The more relaxed the vocal folds are, the slower they vibrate and the fundamental tone of the sound becomes deeper. With higher tension they vibrate faster and the tone becomes higher.

The primary sound of the larynx is now changed in the air-containing spaces above the vocal folds. These spaces, to which the throat , mouth and nose belong, are called attachment spaces or vocal tract .

Due to the different size of the larynx and thus the length of the vocal cords, the pitch of the fundamental tone for the male voice is around 125 Hz and for the female voice around 250 Hz. Small children have a pitch around 440 Hz. The vocal range is usually 1.3 –2.5 octaves , but with training 3 and more are also possible. The frequency range of the human voice with the overtones is about 80 Hz to 12 kHz. In this frequency response there are frequency segments that play a role for speech intelligibility, the recognizability of vowels and consonants as well as brilliance and warmth.

During the vocal break , usually around the age of 11 to 15 years, the vocal folds of boys and girls become thicker and longer, the mean speaking voice register drops by an octave in boys and by a third in girls .

Disorders of the human voice

There are many disorders of the human voice. The causes of voice disorders can be due to illness or work. People in professions in which the voice is heavily stressed, such as teachers, politicians, call center agents, pastors, singers or speakers in the media, are particularly at risk. People with voting intensive occupations may by targeted voice training and proper vocal approach increase the capacity and quality of her voice.


Hoarseness is a relatively common disorder of the human voice that manifests itself in a rough, impure, thick, or toneless voice. A toneless voice is called aphonia .

The main causes of hoarseness are inflammation (viral and bacterial laryngitis , overexertion, chemical stimuli, Reinke's edema ), vocal cord paralysis ( recurrent palsy or vagus palsy ) and benign or malignant tumors ( vocal fold polyp , papillomas , vocal fold carcinoma ).

Vocal science

Different spectrogram

The vocal Science (ger .: voice science ) describes and explores the phenomenon of "voice": the voice production and vocal perception. Knowledge from different areas flows into this borderline science.

Some important areas are: physiology and anatomy , mechanics and acoustics , medicine , especially phoniatry , psychology , speech studies and vocal pedagogy .

Important representatives of this scientific discipline are: Johan Sundberg (formerly KTH, Stockholm, Sweden), Ingo Titze ( University of Iowa and National Center for Voice and Speech , USA) and Peter-Michael Fischer .

Vocal techniques

The human (singing) voice can produce different timbres through various learnable techniques, for example the difference between speaking voice and speaker's voice when speaking and for example belting in contrast to the “classic opera voice ” ( belcanto ) or overtone singing when singing . Just as someone can develop from a beginner to a virtuoso while learning a musical instrument through years of practice , "the voice as an instrument" can be further developed through vocal and vocal training . For example, when singing the vowel "A", it is mainly the pharynx that is involved (when you hold your nose, the tone hardly changes); If the voiced consonant "M" is sung nasally and then the mouth is opened to "A", the column of air swings in the mouth and in the nasal cavity (holding the nose closed then changes the tone). Such vocal techniques to expand the vowel space (such as raising and lowering the larynx or raising and lowering the tongue, improving the vocal position (see vocal pedagogy ) and many others) can strengthen or change the voice.


With voice recognition, an acoustic fingerprint can be used in biometrics as a factor for authentication in computer networks .

See also



  • Bernhard Richter, Matthias Echternach, Louisa Traser, Michael Burdumy, Claudia Spahn: The Voice. Insights into the physiological processes involved in singing and speaking , 2017, Helbling, ROM-DVD

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ National Center for Voice and Speech
  2. ^ A b Bernhard Richter, Matthias Echternach, Louisa Traser, Michael Burdumy, Claudia Spahn: The voice. Insights into the physiological processes involved in singing and speaking , 2017, Helbling, ROM-DVD