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Q & A: Power source for voice

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
What is the voices power source?
- Raine Dekinder (age 16)
Cenntenial High School, Calgary Alberta, Canada
A:
Sound waves for your voice are mostly made by the larynx, which vibrates when air is forced through it and the vocal chords are pulled tight. The energy comes from the pressurized air being pushed through, and the thing that does work here is your diaphragm muscle, which is just under your lungs. Your diaphragm muscle gets its energy from ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is produced in the metabolic processes of cells, often starting with the oxidation of glucose. Glucose is either ingested directly by your body or manufactured from other carbohydrates, which are formed by plants which use the process of photosynthesis to convert CO2 + H2O to sugars and other nutrients, with the help of energy from sunlight. The sun gets its energy from the nuclear fusion of hydrogen.

There are lots of "mostly"s in here. Not all the energy which goes to make your voice follows exactly this route, and other things contribute. Your chest muscles help compress your lungs too, and you make noises with air flowing past your tongue, teeth and lips in addition to the vocal cords.

Tom

(published on 10/22/2007)

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