Can you change the filter?

The human voice fascinates me. There are many reasons for this but let’s focus on one aspect: the uniqueness of every human voice. This is a particular marvel when you consider that human beings share similar vocal anatomy. Simply put, humans have nearly identical hardware but produce one-of-a-kind vocal signatures.

Consider the sound of human speech. In your mind, hear the difference between native speakers from France, Egypt, and Russia. Closer to home, compare the sound of American voices from the borough of Queens, the Mississippi delta, and the open plains of Oklahoma. What makes each so unique? Clearly, the choice of and use of language is at play, but is there something else?

Defined simply, the human voice, for both speech and song, consists of three parts: power, source, and filter. The movement of the breath provides the primary power. The source of the sound is seated in the larynx, the cartilaginous house for the vocal folds. The raw sound from the source then travels through the filter and is transformed into what we call one’s “voice.” Think back on the voices I asked you to hear earlier in the blog. Filtering is playing a major role in producing the unique sounds you are hearing.

Every human has their so-called ”everyday” voices for speech and for song. Think of them as the go-to or default voices. But we’ve all done vocal imitations, pretending to be from a different locale or mimicking a style of singing outside our comfort zone. How did you do that? Filtering was at play.

Estill Voice Training takes its cue from the power-source-filter paradigm. Learning the anatomy responsible for filtering and practicing the various positions possible for each and their effect on vocal sound is an essential and invaluable tool.

If you would like to know more about how one filters the voice, please contact me.

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