The Power of Voice

Speaking and being heard is a technical thing. Some people are gifted with the ability to influence and lead. They can do so not simply because they're powerful, wealthy, and popular, but because of the secret behind their voices when they sing or give a speech. The power of imagination is the voice behind it. Denise Woods, the renowed Voice Coach, Author and Producer on The Power of Voice.

Voice

Voice is a powerful tool when it comes to communicating effectively and being understood. The voice is among the most sophisticated and purely human functions. Voice is not only a highly important tool for social interaction and communication but also for self-recognition and gender identification.

The secret behind the voice is both art and science. From where the sound is produced to how it's produced as well as tricky things affecting its quality. 

Scientific facts about voice.

  • Voice as involving two processes; Production of sound and Filtering of sound. Sound is produced at the larynx or voice box.

  • We produce a sound whose spectrum contains many different frequencies. 

  • Using tongue, teeth, lips, velum, etc, we can manipulate the air stream into producing a variety of sounds. 

  • Each sound is a voice that has energy.

  • The energy usually comes from air expelled from the lungs. 

  • At the larynx, airflow passes between the vocal folds and through the vocal tract, sometimes encountering constrictions.


  • In the voiced speech, the vocal folds (sometimes called ‘vocal cords’) vibrate. This allows puffs of air to pass, which produces sound waves. 


  • The vibrations produced in voiced speech usually contain a set of different frequencies called harmonics.

  • The frequency of a sound wave is perceived as pitch. 

  • Humans can detect voice in the forms of sound pitches within the acoustic range of 20 to 20,000 Hz, however, we can't detect ultrasound or infrasound.

Quality of Voice

Human voices can be of high quality when produced with some criteria. Being able to control their voice can help a singer to do better,  while a leader can be able to draw attention and impact the audience by simply being able to use their voice effectively. Quality of voice can be characterized by harshness, breathiness, and nasality.

  • Rhythm.
A proper and correct rhythmic movement or sound is repeated at regular intervals, forming a regular pattern or beat that attracts the attention of the listeners.
  • Volume and Frequency.
Voice or sound intensity is measured in decibels and is perceived as sound volume. Hence, the volume is proportional to the amplitude of the sound wave. 
  • Pitch (sound wave) length.

The high pitched voice or low pitched voice can make you sound unreal. Producing your natural tone of voice makes you sound good and even real. Therefore being able to be heard and understood by the people you are talking to.


Things affecting the quality of voice.

  • Diseases. 
Dysphonia is associated with difficulty in speaking due to a physical disorder of the mouth, tongue, throat, or vocal cords due to bacterial infections such as acute epiglottitis.

Laryngitis refers to inflammation and irritation of the vocal cords. This will make it harder to open and close the vocal cords, also changing the sound of your voice since the swelling affects the shape and size of the vocal cords. Therefore, causing a hoarse, raspy, or weak voice. Laryngitis is caused by viral infections.

Moreover, disease conditions such as benign (non-cancerous) vocal cord lesions, cancerous or precancerous lesions, autoimmune conditions, neurologic conditions, and airway conditions, as well as vocal cord motion abnormalities may affect voice and life quality. Laryngology.

  • Aging.
As people get older, the larynx (voice box), vocal folds (cords), and voice-producing mechanism age along with the rest of the body. Age-related voice changes develop as muscle and other tissues in the larynx and vocal cords shrink, thin, and stiffen.
  • Lifestyle.
Overusing of voice can lead to voice disturbances such as hoarseness, vocal breaks, vocal fatigue, burning in the throat, and temporary aphonia. The conditions are common in the health of professionals such as teachers. The conditions may interfere with performance at work or in social relationships and lead to low self-esteem.

Dehydration and having ice water on the podium when you speak or hydrating with hot water and lemon before a concert.

Avoid extreme temperature liquids for at least two to three hours before you'll need to speak or sing.

Fresh juicy fruits are the best choice for hydrating your vocal cords. When you need a snack before you sing or speak, bite into a succulent peach, pear, apple, plum, or melon.

Factors for a good voice.

  • Diaphragmatic breathing when speaking.
Diaphragmatic breathing results in a more powerful voice because using the back and bottom of the lungs enables additional air in the body, and therefore more air to move out through the vocal cords when you speak.
  • Good posture.
Keep a good posture, stand upright with shoulders back, relaxed, and feet shoulder-width apart. Do not cross your arms, put your hands in your pocket, or do nothing. Face the audience as much as possible and keep your body open when speaking to an audience or giving a speech.
  • Sex hormones.
Progesterone and Estrogen affect the voice in females, testosterone affects men's voice quality as they age. So, keep your hormones in balance.
  • Voice intensity.

Voice intensity, also known as auditory intensity, is defined as the power carried by sound waves per unit area in a way perpendicular to that location.


The voice has been useful in music and singing as well as speeches since ancient times. Voice is magical in many ways:

  • Voice carries emotions.

  • Voice is the power of authority.

  • Voice has the power to convince and motivate.

  • Voice can influence popularity.

  • Voice can please and annoy.

  • Voice can define one's personality.

  • Voice is the hidden message for the ears to decode.

  • Voice quality can signify either an alarming health condition or an optimal health condition.

  • Voice quality is a sign of emotions be it happiness, anger, or sadness.

  • Voice is the window into the mind and psychological state.

  • Tone can be expressed as the color or timbre of your singing voice. Each voice has a unique color, which can be described as warm, dark, or strident.

  • Voice colors the physical surroundings with sound energy making a sense of a moment presence and event or activity.

  • Voice is a powerful tool, it can change your life and take you to the level of great success as a motivational speaker or a singer.

Generally, being able to communicate and influence people around us involves sending the correct messages in terms of voice. Making videos, telephone calls or podcasting, radio broadcasting and giving a speech relies on the quality and effectiveness of the voice.

Therefore sounding natural and real is the magic of voice in making communication successful. Voice quality means the quality of life at work, home, and so on. Because social life means communicating effectively. Our voices are life.


References

The Effect of Hormones on the Voice - Vocapedia. PDF.

http://www.vocapedia.info

Ko SJ, Sadler MS, Galinsky AD. The sound of power: conveying and detecting hierarchical rank through voice. Psychol Sci. 2015 Jan;26(1):3-14. DOI: 10.1177/0956797614553009. Epub 2014 Nov 20. PMID: 25413877.

Laryngology. Cleveland Clinic.

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/14520-laryngology


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