About Your Voice
Voice is the sound made by vibration of the vocal cords caused by air passing out through the larynx bringing the cords closer together.
Your vocal cord (also known as vocal folds) are two, white mucosal membranes situated inside your larynx (Adam’s Apple). These membranes are fixed at one end, giving them a V-shape and open and close to allow for breathing and sound production.
Your larynx sits on top of your trachea (windpipe) and as air passes through with each breath you take, your vocal cords vibrate creating a sound. The frequency that your vocal cords vibrate will determine the pitch of your sound.
Male vocal cords tend to be longer and thicker, giving the male voice a deeper, lower sound, whereas female vocal cords tend to be shorter and thinner giving the female voice a higher and lighter sound.
The physical action of singing or speaking is the same for everyone. The reason we all sound different to each other is down to our physical attributes. The shape of our head, our bone structure, the position of our teeth, our nasal cavity, our sinuses. This is also know as our facial mask. Once that sound is produced by our vocal cords, it travels up towards our mouth and nose, where we shape and polish that sound around our facial mask before we exhale our own unique sound.
You can feel your larynx if you gently press the front of your throat and then swallow. You will feel it moving up and then back down to its original position. The action you feel here is your larynx lifting and your vocal cords closing to prevent food and drink from entering your windpipe as you swallow.
Your vocal cords are delicate structures. They appear white as there is little blood supply to them. They are also covered in mucous to prevent them drying out. The process of breathing, talking and singing or coughing can easily dry them out. This in turn leads to your vocal cords not being able to open and close easily, leading to friction or a hoarse voice. There’s more about vocal health here.
As a singer, learning how to control your breath and using vocal exercises to help you strengthen and develop flexibility in your voice is invaluable.