Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Stages of Voice Production (Speech Mechanisms)

Voice Production

Before we speak, we inhale air. When we speak, we exhale air. The exhaled air is the raw material out of which we make the finished product.

Tidal air-the minimal amount of air we inhale for the speaking purposes
Complementary air- the additional air we inhale for breathing purposes

Stages of Voice Production

Speaking starts with the movement of the air out of the body through the process of exhalation. The air we inhale is compressed for exhalation.

The movement begins from the lungs, the place where the air eventually goes after inhalation. The air then passes through a pair of bronchial tubes, a pair of canals which are connected to the lungs at one end to the windpipe or trachea at the other end. The windpipe is the canal inside our neck. Muscles contract and expand the space occupied by the lungs. This compression is done with the aid of a membrane separating the lungs from the intestines. This membrane is called the diaphragm.

When the air hits the windpipe or the trachea, it passes through the larynx or the vocal box, situated somewhere in the upper part of the windpipe. The larynx is known as the vibrator. Inside the larynx are the vocal folds, a pair of thin membranes which vibrate when air passes through.

The vibration results in the production of the initial sound of the voice. This is not the actual sound of the voice. It is only the beginning of the sound.

The initial sound is made loud and amplified into our true voice by the air chambers in our body called the resonators. When the sound enters an air chamber, the sound reverberates and is consequently multiplied before leaving the air chamber.
The air chamber of our body that serves as resonators are:
a. the vestibule – the first air chamber located above the larynx

b. the pharynx or the throat – the second air chamber located at the inner end of the mouth
c. the nasal cavities – the chambers of the nose
d. the mouth – a very important resonator

The sound made loud by the resonators is carved out into intelligible sounds, the vowels and consonants, by the modifiers or articulators, those parts of the body that form speech sound.
The modifiers or articulators are:
a. lips – enunciate the bilabial sounds p, b, w, hw, and cooperate with the teeth in the f and v sounds
b. teeth – are used for the s. Together with the tongue, they articulate the soft and hard ths.
c. tongue - is a key modifier. The tongue shapes out the vowels and helps consonants.
d. jaw - does not produce specific sounds but it is an important modifier. If we do not use our jaw, we tend to mumble. We are then said to be eating our words.
e. hard palate - the ceiling of the mouth
f. soft palate – the cave-like extension of the hard palate

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