August 5, 2011


Ever wondered why you can recognize your favorite singer’s voice on the radio? And why is it that a man has a deeper-sounding voice than a woman? Well, we’ll have to explore how exactly our voices work.               


So, what is a voice? In simple terms, it’s our way of changing the air that we breathe out. We all have something called the voice box (also known as the larynx), which is a small organ in our neck. It houses a set of two folds (the vocal cords) that open and close really fast and vibrate as air passes through them from our lungs to our mouths. The vocal cords’ size, position, and even how they are stretched influences the type of sound that comes out. But that’s not it – the throat, nose, and other parts of our mouths also come into play. Plus, someone’s voice is also affected by how someone chooses to speak – maybe some pronounce their O’s with more of a fish-face!

But let’s get back to the question of why men have a lower voice range: simply put, when guys are going through the teen years (yup, those times when you start growing more hair and more muscles), their voice box or larynx also gets bigger. This means the vocal cords grow longer and thicker and this change leads to a deeper voice. Why? Because those thicker vocal cords don’t vibrate as fast.

Girls’ voices occasionally get lower, too. When you have a nasty cold, have you ever noticed that your voice gets a bit deeper? This is because your larynx and vocal cords have swollen and the vocal cords vibrate much more slowly.

Next time you hear someone’s voice change because of a cold, you’ll know exactly why smile



Curious about other parts of the human body? Check out Seymour Simon’s book The Human Body





Image: The Writer’s Lounge


Posted by: Liz Nealon

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