The vocal folds (cords) are composed of two folds of mucous membrane extended (horizontally) across the larynx. In order to create the vibration in the vocal folds, a singer will first inhale, this process opens the glottis (space between the vocal folds) and separate the vocal folds, filling up the lungs with air.

If you hold your breath, the vocal folds are together (closing the glottis) and the vocal folds separate with the release of air. The vocal folds are controlled by the vagus nerve. The vibration of the vocal folds begins as the air is being released from the lungs when singing. During the release of air, the vocal folds vibrate, as the vocal folds try to close the glottis and create phonation (see blog 10/12/20, “Creating Your Best Singing Voice!”). These vocal folds are forced open by the air pressure in the lungs and slowly close as the air flows past the vocal folds causing the pressure to lessen (see 11/13/20 blog about “Phonation”).

A singer’s pitch is decided by the resonant frequency of the vocal folds (all singers have their own natural frequency at which they vibrate. Most adult male singers have a frequency of 125 Hz, whereas the female singers frequency is around 210 Hz. A child will have a resonant frequency of 300 Hz or higher. A frequency is the number of wave passing through in a specific amount of time.

When you play the piano, it has a frequency range of 27.5 Hz to 4186 Hz. When a singer is recording vocals or a pianist is in the studio recording a song the frequencies can be manipulated by the audio engineer.

Having a clear understanding of how your vocal folds function in your voice lessons or singing lessons will help a singer. Contact your local vocal coach for a better understanding of the vocal tract and singing voice.


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