Your voice is the sound made by vibration of the vocal cords caused by air passing out through the larynx bringing the cords closer together.
The vocal cords (also known as vocal folds) are two bands of elastic muscle tissue. They are located side by side in the voice box (larynx) just above the windpipe (trachea). These membranes are fixed at one end, giving them a V-shaped and open and close to allow for breathing and sound production.
Your larynx sits on top of your trachea (windpipe) and when you are silent, the cords remain open. They create an airway through which you breathe.
When you speak or sing, the vocal cords tighten up and move closer together. Air from the lungs is forced between them and makes them vibrate, producing the sound of our voice.
The frequency that your vocal cords vibrate will determine the pitch of your sound. They vibrate faster for higher-pitched sounds, slower for lower-pitched sounds. The tongue, lips, and teeth help form this sound wave into words, or give the sound more tone or resonance.
Male vocal cords tend to be longer and thicker and vibrate slower within the larynx, giving the male voice a deeper, lower sound. The larynx i(also known as the Adams Apple) tends to be more visible in males. Female vocal cords tend to be shorter, thinner and vibrate more quickly, giving the female voice a higher and lighter sound.
Find Your Larynx
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 a flap of tissue called the Epiglottis covers your vocal cords closing preventing 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.
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.
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.
The physical action of singing or speaking is the same for everyone. However, 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, our tongue.
Once that sound is produced by our vocal cords, it travels up towards our mouth and nose, where we resonate that sound wave around our head, shaping and polishing before we exhale our own unique sound.
Your tone and resonance can be improved as you learn to sing.