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Why do people have different voices?

Why do people have different voices when the sound box generates in the exact same way? And why do men have lower voices than women?
Elizabeth Cartwright from Tyne and Wear (Age: 5-14)

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One Response

  1. A person’s voice depends on a lot of different factors, such as the exact shape and size of the voicebox, the shape and size of the mouth, (both of which can vary quite a bit and cause substantial differences to what we hear), and they way in which the person has learnt to speak.

    Even if we considered two identical twins, the way they were brought up could affect how they speak. In particular, actors deliberately learn to speak in different ways appropriate to the character they’re playing. Our vocal system is quite versatile and adaptable and so can produce a variety of different sounds, and different people may prefer to speak in particular ways for all sorts of reasons.

    That aside, the basics of how our voices work and why men’s voices are deeper is quite simple; testosterone production during puberty causes the voicebox (Adam’s apple) in males to increase in size. This causes the vibrations of the vocal chords to have a longer wavelength, which in turn reduces the frequency (pitch) of the sound we hear.

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