Pitch is undoubtedly the unsung hero behind a lot of our communication, it can convey emotions, convey meaning, and even shape our first impressions of someone. While vocal pitch is primarily determined by the vibration frequency of the vocal folds, the way we articulate sounds also plays a crucial role in how we perceive pitch. In this article, we will explore how articulation affects vocal pitch in both men and women and how this dynamic can help you to further gain control of your voice and boost your trans voice training results.
The Science of Vocal Pitch
Before we dive into the connection between articulation and vocal pitch, it's essential to understand the science behind vocal pitch. Pitch is primarily determined by the rate at which the vocal folds vibrate. When the vocal folds vibrate at a higher frequency, a higher-pitched sound is produced, and conversely, a lower frequency results in a lower-pitched sound.
The Role of Articulation
Articulation refers to the shaping and manipulation of sounds as they pass through the vocal tract, including the mouth, tongue, lips, and other articulatory organs. While it may not directly affect the pitch of the voice, articulation can influence how we perceive vocal pitch in several ways:
Vowel Sounds: The way we articulate vowel sounds can significantly impact perceived pitch. For example, articulating high-pitched vowels like "ee" involves narrowing the vocal tract, which can make the overall voice sound higher in pitch. Conversely, articulating low-pitched vowels like "ah" involves a more open vocal tract, creating the perception of a lower pitch.
Consonant Sounds: Consonants, especially those produced with rapid movements of the tongue and lips, can influence the perception of pitch. The transition from a high-pitched consonant to a vowel can create the illusion of pitch change, even though the pitch remains constant.
Emotional Expression: Articulation also plays a role in conveying emotions through changes in pitch. When we articulate words with heightened emotion, such as excitement or surprise, they may naturally raise their pitch, further emphasizing the emotional content of their speech.
Resonance: The shape and size of the vocal tract can influence the resonance of the voice, which can affect the perceived pitch. Those with shorter vocal tracts may have a slightly higher-pitched resonance compared to those with longer vocal tracts. Differences Between Genders: Not only do women tend to have a higher pitch than men but what’s even more crucial to the difference between the two is that women naturally employ a greater amount of pitch variation in speech which is largely attributed to the higher degree of lip movement and overall bodily animation occurring while speaking, in other words, their pitch goes up and down, up and down. Conversely, men tend to have a lower pitch while having very little pitch variation in their voice, this overall stems from the reduced severity of facial expressions, lip movement and bodily movement. How to Practice: If you think articulation might be able to help you with your trans voice training goals, here’s a few ways to try practicing:
Use words that contain diphthongs eg. when two separate vowel sounds exist within the same syllable eg. boy, tie, day, bear, bear, tour or the sentence: “How now brown cow”.
Poetry and song lyrics work well for an increase in difficulty but remember to go slow, a quickened pace often results in laryngeal/ tongue root tension occurring which can weaken as well as strain the voice.
Enunciate, really punch out whose consonant sounds. Through increased enunciation your lips will have no choice but to increase movement as well. Be careful however not to overdo it, a little goes a long way and too much can leave your facial expressions looking unnatural.
Begin to observe people in day-to-day conversations to increase awareness, watch how their expressions, lip movement and gesturing all affect how you perceive their pitch.
Look at yourself in a mirror and watch how you speak. Try adding a lot, a little or barely any articulation at all in your voice work, play around and experiment with each and listen to how it sounds.
The relationship between articulation and vocal pitch in both men and women is a complex one. While articulation primarily involves shaping and resonating speech sounds, it can indirectly influence how pitch is perceived. Understanding this interplay can help us appreciate the nuances of vocal communication and how it contributes to our overall vocal training practice. So the next time you listen to someone speak, pay attention to the subtle ways their articulation may be influencing the pitch of their voice, and you'll begin to gain a deeper insight into the art of communication and hopefully in time be able to incorporate this skill into your own practice. As always I wish you all the best in your voice training journey and if at any point you feel like you could benefit from the direction of a Trans Voice Training Teacher, feel free to get in touch with me through my website at https://www.voicebykylie.com/.
Till' next time,