Voice: All you need to know about this interesting organ

About five million years ago man began to straighten, causing his brain to expand and his larynx to descend below the neck.

This led to the birth of an exceptional instrument, the string and the wind, which remained the privilege of the human race: the voice. It’s just a vibration of the wind, and yet what magic! The Queen of the Night takes only a few liters out of her lungs to sing alone Magic fluteMozart, or to pronounce our 15,000 words daily … During all communication, the voice, which had been little studied before, was closely verified and valued.

His imaginative power works very quickly. A baby can recognize its mother’s scent twenty-four hours after birth but is sensitive to its wood from fetal life. Several studies have shown that keeping a mother’s voice in an incubator stimulates premature baby brain development. “It has as much power as physical contact in controlling the hormones involved in social communication,” explains Gene Abbottball, ENT and Phoniatrist, author Voice power (ed. Allary). Listening to her mother will stimulate certain parts of the brain, especially those involved in emotions, reward circuits, self-awareness. And those whose connections are most established between these regions are the most comfortable in society.

A resource that can later be used to seduce an audience, even to the point of captivating a crowd. Because vocal music affects many careers today. No wonder, then, that politicians call voice trainers without voice, it is difficult to argue, explain, please … so much so that these special teachers provide their services to voice professionals (actors, radio journalists, teachers), but also to everyone.

Our emotions speak

Voices are also a tool of temptation. Subconsciously, two animals that like each other meet in tune: males speak softer and louder, females less and more serious. On the other hand, it is enough to move tired, surprised, to hear. And our reflections during job interviews give us our first impression … Voices can even betray us: “We know someone well, a hello on the phone is enough to know their mood”, underlined phoneticist Elizabeth Fresnel. It’s hard to hide his anger: heart and breath rushing, voice trembling, flow rushing, we no longer speak … For the tightness of the throat, it’s not just a simple image: the brain works on the larynx through the vagus nerve. In the case of intense emotion, the latter is compressed and the air circulates less easily. Subject to our emotions, our voices also affect our moods, as shown in an IRCAM study. Participants read a text aloud and, almost unaware of it, responded almost simultaneously to the sound of their voices being altered by software, which made it more cheerful, sad, frightening, and so on. In the end, everyone’s mood matched their transformed voices! Modifies some of its features (extinct, anxious, downward…), so we can work on our feelings!

These are the organs that give “the”

The brain decides to emit sound; It transmits this information to the motor nucleus of the brainstem and spinal cord, which coordinates the activity of the articular organs, larynx, and thoracic and abdominal muscles. Once the sound comes out of the mouth, the brain can re-adjust the frequency and intensity of vocal emission. This process of voice feedback is called “audio-phonetic looping”.

The best enemy of the voice

The less hydrated we are, the more phlegm is released which embarrasses our vocal cords. Accurate reflection? Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. Acid reflux can also cause inflammation. In this case you should eat slowly, sleep with your head above your feet, spices, chocolate, mint, theine and caffeine, alcohol and tobacco should be avoided before going to sleep. On the phone, use a headset to talk less loudly. Pay attention to your posture and your breathing. What if the voice is broken? The only remedy: keep quiet. Near the age of 50, presbyphonia (deterioration due to age) awaits. Women then have deeper voices, with “air holes” in them; Male, more intense, with a wrapped tone and a loss of intensity. Regular use of breathing, resonators (especially teeth) and vocal cords in good condition slows down this process.

Synthetic voice

Do you dream of chatting with Scarlett Johansson or George Clooney? Scientists know how to reproduce their voice from a single recording. Nicholas Obin, a researcher on IRCAM’s Sound Analysis and Synthesis team, explains that they cut out small sequences to create a database of sounds and vowels and then “draw puzzle pieces from the reservoir to retrieve any text.” “Today, with artificial intelligence and deep machine learning, we are building an average voice model. Thirty seconds of recording of a person is enough to create a synthetic voice capable of interacting with us, even if it is not very expressive. A technology interested in personal assistants from Google, Amazon, Apple and others.

Voice biometrics

In France, banks are testing voice biometrics to verify the identities of their customers They must utter a phrase that they have recorded in advance to access the services by telephone. Millions? Limit fraud and make life easier for customers who already have dozens of passwords to memorize. “Thanks to artificial intelligence, the algorithm is able to compare 1,000 features of voice,” Joel Drax, voice biometrics expert at Nuance Communications, underlines the market leader. “It also identifies whether the sentence is said to be live or whether it is a recording. Low error rate (1 in 10,000), even with cold!

Why is it good to sing?

“The human body is seen as a musical instrument, a real sound board that vibrates in tune with what is around it,” explains music therapist Isabel Hagmard. During inspiration, the lungs fill with air, the diaphragm moves downward, the throat and pharynx open, the sound rises to the cavum and upper pharynx, and the larynx descends to come into contact with the spine. Singer Valentina Vagliani adds, “The emotional passage of the breath” then becomes clear. As a result, the secretion of dopamine, endorphins, serotonin and oxytocin, all hormones associated with well-being and happiness, when stress and adrenaline flow. An antidepressant that combines all muscles and zygomatics, so is rarely used …

Voice: Diagnosis of Parkinson’s

According to Max Little, a mathematician at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA), this pathology of the nervous system can be detected by voice at an early stage. In one patient’s case, the coordination of the larynx, diaphragm, larynx, tongue, and lips is altered: “The voice represents inflexibility, weakness, and vibration,” he said. Using voice samples from healthy people and patients, he developed an algorithm that detects these changes during a phone call lasting less than five minutes.

How do ventriloquists work?

Many consonants do not need to move their lips: they are formed by the contraction of the tongue (d, l, n, t) or the soft palate (g, j, k). The ventriloquist thus deceives himself with the vowel. For labials (b, p, m, f, v), he replaces them with a similar letter, for example m by n (“denine” instead of tomorrow). These options go unnoticed, especially if she pays attention to her dolls!

Teresa Mink

Leave a Comment