Human voice

Human voice consists of sound made by a person using the vocal folds for talking, singing, laughing, screaming or crying. The vocal folds in combination with the teeth, the tongue, and the lips, are capable of producing highly intricate arrays of sound, and vast differences in meaning can often be achieved through highly subtle manipulation of the sounds produced (especially in the expression of language). These differences can be in the individual noises produced, or in the overall tone in which they are uttered.

The tone of voice may suggest that a sentence is a question, even if it grammatically is not, and shows emotions such as anger, surprise, happiness; in a request the tone reveals much about how much one wants something, and whether it is asking a favor or more like an order; the tone of saying e.g. "I am sorry" says a lot: it may vary from begging for forgiveness to "I have the right to do this even if you do not like it". See nonverbal communication.

Singers use the human voice as an instrument for creating music.


Voice registers

The human voice is a complex instrument. Humans have vocal cords which can loosen or tighten or change their thickness and over which breath can be transferred at varying pressures. The shape of chest and neck, the position of the tongue, and the tightness of otherwise unrelated muscles can be altered. Any one of these actions results in a change in pitch, volume, timbre, or tone of the sound produced.

One important categorisation which can be applied to the sounds singers make relates to the register; or the "voice" which we use. Singers refer to these registers according to the part of the body in which the sound most generally resonates, and which have correspondingly different tonal qualities. There are widely differing opinions and theories about what a register is, how they are produced and how many there are. The following definitions refer to the different ranges of the voice.

Chest voice

The chest voice is the register used in everyday speech. When you talk to the person next to you in a normal voice, you can feel that the sound seems to be "coming from" your upper chest. This is because lower frequency sounds have longer wavelengths, and resonate mostly in the larger cavity of the chest. When you sing notes at the bottom of your range, you are using your chest voice.

The tonal qualities of the chest voice are usually described as being rich, full, deep, loud and strong.

Middle voice

The middle voice, also known as the "blend", is the term used to describe the range of notes which marks the crossover between the chest and head voices. It may be a distinct change (a passaggio) or a more gradual blending. With training, many singers can choose whether to sing notes in this range in the head or chest voice.

Head voice

The head voice is often used when we shout, or are highly excited. In these situations we tend to produce higher pitches, and these resonate in the mouth and in the bones of the skull - so the sound feels as if it is "coming from" our head. When you sing the notes at the upper end of your vocal range, you are using your head voice.

The tonal qualities of the head voice are usually described as being sweet, balladic, lilting, and pure. It is usually more tonally precise but less loud than the chest voice.


Falsetto is a higher range than the head voice; it relies on completely relaxed vocal folds and may sound breathy. Imagine the Bee Gees singing "Stayin' Alive", or Terry Jones playing an old woman in Monty Python; that is the sound of the falsetto voice. It is generally more obvious in men using it, but women, in the higher voices, usually use falsetto voice adjustments. It is a difficult register to sing accurately in, and it tends to be rather soft, except when there is amplification through resonance by a well-tuned vocal tract. It also requires an uncomfortable muscle effort for many men.

It is a quite distinct range from the head voice, and generally when singers describe their range they exclude the falsetto voice.

Finding your voices

1. Stand up.

2. As loudly as you can, say the word "hellooooooooo" (holding the "o") in your normal speaking voice. Put your hand on your chest; you should feel it vibrating. If not, try singing a little louder or lower. This is your chest voice.

3. As loudly as you can, repeat the word "helloooooo" with as high a pitch as you can comfortably sing without any special muscle effort; you should feel your chest is no longer vibrating, but instead your skull is. This is your head voice.

4. Now say "hellooooooooooo" in as high a pitch as you can, even if it feels uncomfortable and sounds silly. This is your falsetto voice.

You may find it interesting to gradually sing up your range from the bottom and feel where you cross over from the chest voice to the head voice.

External links

See also

it:Voce ru:Голос


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