top of page

Let's talk of voice. 3 - My Voice DOES NOT exist!

My Voice DOES NOT exist

We were taught at school that sound is transmitted at different speeds in solids, liquids and gases.

My voice is made of air, or rather a sound wave, which is generated when the air of my lungs meets the mucous membrane of the vocal cords and is set in vibration. But we will talk more about this another time.

In fact, even once the laryngeal vibration is generated, my voice does NOT exist.

It is clear that my voice will reach others mainly through a gas: the air.

While I produce them, vocal sound waves in the vocal tract are also transmitted through my mucosal, connective, muscle, bone tissues of the neck and head, but also of the chest and back, reaching my ear and in particular the cochlea faster than the same waves that, coming out of my mouth, reach my ears through the air.

The cochlea is the organ of the ear that receives sounds and transmits them to the areas of the brain responsible for listening.

So the voice that I consider “mine", because I listen to it while I speak, sing, laugh ... is the result of the combination of sound waves transmitted via air, slower, and sound waves transmitted via solid, faster.

But we usually talk to communicate. When does "my" voice exist for others? Others can only hear that part of my voice transmitted by air: therefore they attribute to me, listening to it, a different voice from the one I hear.

We can get an idea of ​​this with a simple game: talk or hum or simply emit a "held" vowel - continued as long as you are out of breath -; while you continue for a few seconds, plug your ears with your hands and listen to yourself, then, still continuing to give voice, position your hands as a bowl and place them behind your ears, palms facing forward.

“Your” voice will be different in each of the three ways.

The third way is the closest to the voice others hear from you.


So, first of all, if I want to heal, educate, improve, work with my voice, I have to be sure of my hearing.

Those who do not hear well often complain of "not understanding others who speak", but hardly ever notice the loss of control of their own voice (called verboacoustic feedback)

Knowing my hearing ability, developing listening attention, treating diseases of the upper airways that can alter my hearing, preventing trauma that can create irreparable damage ... it is essential for those who want to work with their own or others' voice.

It is easier to notice vision problems than hearing problems, also because our society has become increasingly noisy, so much so that on many occasions we automatically reduce listening attention.

But it is an even greater risk for the Professional, the Performer. How many strains are triggered by hearing problems, that often arise in a subtle way, especially now that artistic careers are increasingly long-lived.

An example from a real case.

A Performer, a CCM singer, arrives for a check, feeling strain and fatigue in voice, with a difficulty in the "usual" emission, especially in the high notes, which have always been an identity feature and always spontaneously “easy".

In videostroboscopy and videofibroscopy, the vocal tract shows evident signs of tension in multiple locations - larynx, tongue, soft palate- so much so that an old organic lesion on the vocal cords, usually silent, is now significantly interfering with the vibration.

The tour is scheduled, there is no time, if ever there should be a reason, for phonosurgery and for the relative - even the shortest- rest, but above all there is no reason for that degree of tension, given that the Performes comes from decades of success and experience, the collaborators are the same as always, the repertoire well mastered ...

It is absurd to propose vocal rest in this case, a rest that is never indicated at the end of an intense period of preparation, especially if it is not linked to the understanding of the causes of tension and related fatigue, i.e. the targets to rest.

Also for a physician is mandatory to listen. Experienced professionals often give us the diagnosis, even if they do not rationally realize it : “What can I say? I don't hear my voice as usual, even if others tell me that everything is fine, at certain times my voice is covered by the sound of the instruments in the in-ear, even if I try to give everything! "

An immediate check, after otoscopy, in a sound proof booth, reveals a “ partial, asymmetrical sensorineural hearing loss".

If you think of the ear, the cochlea, like a piano keyboard, or rather two, one on the right and one on the left, the examination shows that in both keyboards, the keys that we would play with the right hand are "out of tune” on both sides, moreover in a more intense and extended way in one than in the other.

If you think of the voice as the hands that touch the keyboard, the voice will be perceived in an incomplete and above all asymmetrical way: this interferes with the cerebral control of working memories, operational protocols that are established over years of study and experience, the protocols to which the brain refers and compares the vocal gesture to adapt it to the "desired". Used to listening to two keyboards played simultaneously and symmetrically, the brain - which probably had managed to compensate for the asymmetry until it was slight - cannot behave with information at this level of asymmetry and triggers non-ergonomic and afinalistic behaviors, not receiving the usual inputs. .

With the authorization of the Performer, once the audiometry results have been passed to the sound engineer, the latter agrees with the Artist to adopt two in-ears, differently set, in order to adapt the Performer's listening to the actual hearing thresholds, so as to be able to listen “as usual” one's voice in relation to the surrounding soundscape.

Combined this technical solution with an osteopathic evaluation and related treatment to balance those improper tensions, the tour started with respect for all scheduled dates, full success with the public and no further triggering of vocal fatigue.

If this may seem an exceptional case, the control between "simply auditory" listening and perception of the vocal dynamics of others is one of the most difficult aspects for an artistic voice teacher, whether recited or sung voice: teacher’s example in voice will be listened by the student very different from how the teacher ’s own listening; in the same way the voice that the student emits will never be the one that the teacher will listen to ... but in this paradox, the attentive teacher will be able to lead Achilles to reach the tortoise.

And if this is difficult in vivo, it is an even greater challenge "remotely": we will talk about this in another post.

"My" Voice exists ... when it is heard. Try to make sure we can listen to it at best.

4 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page