UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
How do we get our voices?
Question Date: 2006-03-01
Answer 1:

The voice is the sound produced by the vibrations of the vocal cords. The vocal cords are two ligaments or bands of elastic tissue situated in the larynx. The larynx is the organ of voice. There are several elements that interact in order to produce voice; those are: muscle, air, space, and articulators (tongue, teeth, palate, lips). These components interact with each other to produce your unique vocal sound. The muscle part of the voice is made of the vocal cords which are covered with a very important layer of mucous. Other tiny muscles within the larynx control the space between the cords as well as the length of the cords. The vocal cords need to be brought together in order to produce sound. If they are too tightly brought together or not taut enough, the vocal quality suffers. Once they are brought together airflow makes them vibrate very quickly through the mucous layer that sits on them. If you are not getting enough water or are consuming products that dehydrate yourself, the mucous gets very thick and dry and you will not perform at your best.

The voice is also made up of air. The air is the voice's energy source that you control with each breath that you take while speaking. The air sets the vocal cords vibrating and oscillating through the mucous covering. Speaking without a healthy air supply is like trying to drive a car without gas! Your breath is your fuel and it is vitally important. There are two major ways to take a breath- a high "clavicle" breath where you suck your stomach in and raise your chest with in the inhalation, and the abdominal/ribcage (intercostals) breath where your stomach and ribs move out and down with the inhalation while the shoulders stay relaxed. The first method is what most of us are used to in our daily habits. Unfortunately, it creates a smaller throat space and lack of breath control. Vocalizing requires a sustained breath. When we inhale using the clavicle, the exhalation cannot be sustained or controlled easily and actually tires the tiny throat muscles used for singing/speaking, producing vocal fatigue, tension and often, an airy sound.

Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use