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Human Voice Production (Part 3 of 4)

Introduction Speech vs Voice Basic Anatomy Voice Production Normal Voice

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When the vocal cords come together precisely, a pure & clear sound is produced. However, if there are any rough edges, swellings, or masses on the vocal cord (ie, vocal cord nodules, polyps, cysts, etc), the vibration becomes disrupted creating an absent, harsh, or raspy sounding voice. Sometimes this occurs only at a specific pitch.

The best analogy would be a violin string. Imagine playing a single tone on the violin. Now imagine a fly landing on the string. Such an event would disrupt the sound the violin produces. Another situation arises when the vocal cords don't come together at all. In this scenario, vibration is barely produced at all resulting in a breathy sounding voice.The library of video and audio samples will illustrate each of these different scenarios. Be aware that you need QuickTime plugin installed in order to listen and watch the samples. Be patient when waiting for the webpages to load as the video samples are several megabytes in size. Alternatively, the Photo Library section contains pictures (instead of video) of various voicebox abnormalities.

Back to the beginning of the human voice tutorial.


  • Photo Library - Photographs of voicebox abnormalities.
  • Normal Voice - Examples of Normal
  • Raspy Voice - Things that cause a hoarse voice at all pitch ranges
    • Smoker's Polyps
    • Vocal Cord Nodules (Read Article)
    • Large Vocal Cord Polyp (Read Article)
    • Muscle Tension Dysphonia (Read Article)
    • Tumor/Cancer
    • Vocal Cord Varcosity and Mucosal Bridge
    • Bilateral Partial Vocal Cord Paralysis (Read Article)
    • Dehydration
    • Vocal Cord Papillomas
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  • Normal Speech, but Upper Range Loss - Things that cause a hoarse voice ONLY at upper pitch ranges
  • Breathy or Lost Voice - Hoarseness where the voice is much quieter, more breathy, and weaker than normal
    • Vocal Cord Paralysis (Read Article)
    • Bowed Vocal Cords (Prebylaryngeus)
    • Lung Disease (COPD)
    • Muscle Tension Aphonia (Read Article)
    • Anterior Commissure Glottic Mass
  • Voice That Catches/Spasms (aka Spasmodic Dysphonia) - Hoarseness that occurs when the true vocal cords suddenly come together or apart involuntarily. Example of voice tremor also given. (More Info)
    • ADductor Spasmodic Dysphonia
    • ABductor Spasmodic Dysphonia
    • Respiratory Spasmodic Dysphonia
    • Mixed Spasmodic Dysphonia
    • Tremor
  • "Noisy Breathing" - Stridor, noisy breathing, wheezy, etc.
    • Tracheal Stenosis
    • Laryngospasm (Read article on laryngospasm and other forms of vocal cord dysfunction)
    • Non-Organic Stridor
    • Posterior Glottic Web
    • Bilateral Vocal Cord Paralysis
    • Large Ball-Valving Polyp
    • Tracheomalacia
    • Laryngomalacia
  • Nasal Sounding Speech - Name says it all!
    • Uncoordinated Velopharyngeal Closure
    • Velopharyngeal Insufficiency
    • Velopharyngeal Insufficiency after Cleft Palate Repair
    • Central and Lateral Velopharyngeal Insufficiency
    • Pharyngeal Flap to Correct Velopharyngeal Insufficiency
    • Failed Pharyngeal Flap With Persistent Velopharyngeal Insufficiency
    • Adenoid Hypertrophy (Read Article)
  • Laryngitis - Hoarseness due to infection/inflammation.
    • Trauma
    • Candidiasis
    • Hemorrhagic
    • Reflux (Read Article)
    • Viral
    • Bacterial
    • Allergic
  • Miscellaneous
  • Treatment?

Here are some tips to prevent voice problems.

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