Pitch Of Your Voice
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
That property of voice which we call pitch is determined by the rate of vibration of the vocal cords. The greater the number of vibrations per second, the higher the pitch. The rate of vibration, in turn, is determined by the length and thickness of the vocal cords and by the tightening or relaxation of these cords.
Normally, women's voices are pitched higher than men's because women's vocal cords are shorter. Among individuals of each sex there are wide variations due to difference in physical structure. However, the pitch of our voices, though partly determined by nature, is not entirely beyond our control.
Remember that voice control is dependent largely upon emotional control. When you are excited or frightened, unconsciously the muscles around your voice box or larynx are tightened. The resulting tension in the vocal cords, according to the science of sound, produces a greater frequency of vibration and consequently a higher pitch. It is an indication of lack of mental poise if you habitually speak in a voice pitched too high.
When we use our voices intelligently we do not allow ourselves to scream when angry or raise our voices to too high a pitch when we are excited. We avoid irritation, which tightens and strains the vocal cords. We refrain from an outburst of tears because it will tighten the throat; we refrain from too harsh laughter because we know it will make us hoarse. In short, we exercise self-control. If you are subject to anger and nerves and their consequent injury to your voice, learn to control the breath and relax. Self-control is not repression but self-expression with restraint.
Inflection is a change of pitch. Naturally we do not speak on one pitch level alone. The voice slides up and down the scale as we express various shades of thought and feeling.
Usually an upward slide or inflection expresses a question or an uncompleted thought, and a downward inflection expresses a completed thought.
If you know anyone whose voice never rises or falls, who drones on and on in the same monotone, you know how soon you lose interest in what he is saying. The voice that holds your attention conveys emotion and interest by change of pitch or inflection.
In order to increase your pitch range, try the following exercises with a piano accompaniment. Starting with the middle C count aloud from one to eight on the pitch of middle C. Drop down one note and repeat, continuing until you have gone as low as you can without straining your throat muscles. Then, starting again at middle C go up the scale, counting from one to eight on eight pitches. This exercise will help you develop your consciousness of pitch, and if practiced regularly will enable you to increase your vocal range.