How Does it Work….

The “spoken word” results from three components of voice production: voiced sound, resonance, and articulation.

  • Voiced sound: The basic sound produced by vocal fold vibration is called “voiced sound.” This is frequently described as a “buzzy” sound. Voiced sound for singing differs significantly from voiced sound for speech.
  • Resonance: Voice sound is amplified and modified by the vocal tract resonators (the throat, mouth cavity, and nasal passages). The resonators produce a person’s recognizable voice.
  • Articulation: The vocal tract articulators (the tongue, soft palate, and lips) modify the voiced sound. The articulators produce recognizable words.
Voice Mechanism

Speaking and singing involve a voice mechanism that is composed of three subsystems. Each subsystem is composed of different parts of the body and has specific roles in voice production.

Three Voice Subsystems
Subsystem Voice Organs Role in Sound Production
Air pressure system Diaphragm, chest muscles, ribs, abdominal musclesLungs Provides and regulates air pressure to cause vocal folds to vibrate
Vibratory system Voice box (larynx)Vocal folds Vocal folds vibrate, changing air pressure to sound waves producing “voiced sound,” frequently described as a “buzzy sound”Varies pitch of sound
Resonating system Vocal tract: throat (pharynx), oral cavity, nasal passages Changes the “buzzy sound” into a person’s recognizable voice

Key Function of the Voice Box
The key function of the voice box is to open and close the glottis (the space between the two vocal folds).

  • Role in breathing: Open glottis
  • Role in cough reflex: Close, then open glottis
  • Role in swallowing: Close glottis
  • Role in voice: Close glottis and adjust vocal fold tension (plus additional functions for singing)
Key Components of the Voice Box


  • Muscles
  • Nerves
  • Vocal folds