Physiologic and acoustic differences between male and female voices

I R Titze
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 1989, 85 (4): 1699-707
Comparison is drawn between male and female larynges on the basis of overall size, vocal fold membranous length, elastic properties of tissue, and prephonatory glottal shape. Two scale factors are proposed that are useful for explaining differences in fundamental frequency, sound power, mean airflow, and glottal efficiency. Fundamental frequency is scaled primarily according to the membranous length of the vocal folds (scale factor of 1.6), whereas mean airflow, sound power, glottal efficiency, and amplitude of vibration include another scale factor (1.2) that relates to overall larynx size. Some explanations are given for observed sex differences in glottographic waveforms. In particular, the simulated (computer-modeled) vocal fold contact area is used to infer male-female differences in the shape of the glottis. The female glottis appears to converge more linearly (from bottom to top) than the male glottis, primarily because of medial surface bulging of the male vocal folds.


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