Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Ethan from lincoshire, IL. Ethan Wonders, “Why are voices different? ” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Ethan!
Don't you just love it when you turn on the radio and immediately your favorite song begins to play? There's nothing quite like the soothing voice of your favorite singer to turn a frown upside down.
Have you ever thought about how interesting it is that you can instantly identify the voice of your favorite singer? What would life be like if everyone had the same voice? When your parents wake you up in the morning by calling out your name, wouldn't it be strange if you couldn't tell who it was calling your name?
It would be weird for you, too. Can you imagine calling out to a friend across the classroom only to have them ask, "Who said my name?" When you stop to think about it, it's really handy that each of us has a unique voice. But why is that?
When we consider the ways in which each of us is unique, you might initially think of things like your looks and your fingerprints. Your voice identifies you as uniquely as your looks and your fingerprints do. Although some people might sound quite a bit alike, no two voices are ever exactly alike.
We each have a unique voice because so many factors work together to produce that voice. Your voice starts down in your lungs, where air is exhaled to create an airstream in the trachea and across the larynx, which is often called the voice box.
Stretched horizontally across your larynx are vocal folds, which are also known as vocal cords. As air passes over them, the vocal cords vibrate very quickly to produce sounds. The higher the rate of vibration, called frequency, the higher the pitch will be. The pitch of your voice is largely determined by the length and tension of your vocal cords.
By themselves, the vocal cords produce just a buzzing sound. The parts of your body between the vocal cords and the outside world, such as the throat, nose, and mouth, act as a resonating chamber to turn those buzzing sounds into your unique human voice.
As you can see, there are many different parts of the body involved in producing your voice. Each of those parts is unique in each person, which is what gives each person a unique voice. Moreover, those parts can change over the years and even from day to day, so your voice itself can change over time and even day to day!
For example, as boys grow older, their voices tend to deepen. This is because testosterone in boys makes their vocal cords longer and thicker. Girls' voices will change a bit as they grow older, too, but not to as great an extent as with boys. In general, men will have deeper voices than women, because their vocal cords tend to be larger and vibrate at lower frequencies.
You may also notice a change in your voice when you have a cold. The raspy voice common to people with colds is caused by swelling in the vocal cords caused by the cold virus. Coughing can also cause further irritation and swelling in the vocal cords.
Emotions can also play a role in your voice changing. When you get excited, nervous, or scared, the muscles around your larynx often tighten up, causing increased tension in your vocal cords. That increased tension translates to the higher pitch we often hear in our voice when we're excited or stressed.
Likewise, your voice can change from time to time as a result of anything that affects your vocal cords, the larynx, or any of the other parts of the body that help to produce your voice. Some of these factors include pollution, climate, smoking, and shouting or screaming too much.