The Human Voice
In music, the human voice is viewed as an instrument, and is considered to be the oldest. It is also responsible for the very development of music. Additionally, the human voice is the most expressive instrument. Instruments manufactured throughout history such as the violin, trombone, and saxophone, were designed to emulate the tone and euphony of the human voice.
Singing is at once a simple act yet a complex physical process involving many anatomical components in the thorax and head regions of the body. This includes the larynx (voice box), vocal folds (vocal chords), the trachea (windpipe), lungs, the tongue, cheeks, palate, and lips. The vocal folds produce sound when air is expelled and they vibrate. Men and women have different sized folds accounting for the difference in pitch range between the two genders. As you might guess, vocal folds in men are larger creating a deeper tone and lower range. The physical appearance (size and shape) of any individual may also contribute to the timbre and range of one's voice. For example, you might notice a significant timbral difference between very tall men and unusually short men.
Professional singers train hard to control the pitch, tone, timbre, and the range of their voice. Voice instruction is often two-fold, concentrating on both the science and the art of sound production. Major areas of study include:
Breath control (respiration)
Posture (position of the body, particularly the upper torso)
Phonetics (speech, articulation, elocution)
Resonance (using sympathetic vibrations in the pharynx, collar of the larynx, oral and nasal cavities to enhance tone color and sound quality)
Projection (using the diaphragm muscle, throat, and lungs to sing dynamically; related to breath control)
Ear training (focuses on intonation or pitch accuracy)
Music reading skills (reading and interpreting musical notation)
Singing techniques (legato, vibrato, coloratura, and more; related to singing styles)
Singing styles (opera seria, opera buffa, bel canto, verismo, singspiel, opéra comique and more; related to singing techniques)