Volltext: Elements of Physiology

the bass and tenor; and of female voices, the alto and soprano. The male voice is, it 
is true, capable of being raised to high notes by great tension of the cords, but the 
tones thus produced are of the falsetto character; notes of the same height can be pro¬ 
duced with ease by the shorter vocal cords of the female larynx with less tension. 
Moreover, there must be a limit to the tension of the male chordae vocales, on account 
of muscles being able to shorten themselves by contraction only to a certain extent; 
the maximum of shortening of which they are susceptible is, according to M. 
Schwann, only about one-third of their length. The means of rendering tense the 
vocal ligaments are somewhat greater than this calculation would indicate, since the 
vocal cords can be acted on by muscles both before and behind; and the cartilages to 
which the cords are attached are capable of a lever-like movement. Still there must 
be a limit to the raising of the pitch of the voice attained in this way. A still higher 
but feeble note may be accidentally produced, while the vocal cords are tense, by their 
coming into contact with each other at some point, causing a division of them into 
their aliquot parts. 
I have endeavoured to ascertain by measurement the relative length of the vocal 
cords in the male and female larynx. The following table shows the results which I 
have obtained in several experiments: 
Men past puberty. 
Women past 
Boy of 
14 years. 
Length of the vocal cords 
at the greatest degree > 
of tension, j 
Length of the vocal cords ? 
o v_ 
in the state of repose, 5 
Mean length of the vocal cords in the state of 
repose, ------ 
Mean length of the vocal cords in the state of 
greatest tension, ----- 
Male larynx. Female larynx. 
The cyphers indicate the number of millimetres.* The relative length of the vocal 
cords in the male and in the female larynx would appear from these measurements to 
be as three to two, both in the extended and the unextended state. The degree to 
which the cords can be extended beyond their ordinary length is, in the male larynx, 
somewhat less than five millim.; in the female, three millim. The vocal cords alone, 
and not the whole length of the aperture of the glottis, extending posteriorly between 
the arytenoid cartilages, were measured. A small part of the vocal ligament extends 
farther back than the extreme point of the anterior process of the arytenoid cartilage, 
being attached to the upper border of this process towards the anterior edge of the car¬ 
tilage; this portion of the ligament was included in the measurements.! 
If the air be drawn in through the glottis instead of forced out, the tension of the 
vocal cords remaining the same, no vocal sound is generally produced, but sometimes 
a deeper rustling sound was heard. Touching the outer part of the ligaments of the 
glottis, so as to stop the vibrations at that part, raises the pitch of the sounds. 
Influence of the vocal tube.—The length of the tube prefixed to the 
* A millimetre is O03937, or about of an English inch. 
t Admeasurements of the vocal cords of the larynx in the tense and lax condition, in bass, 
tenor, contr’alto, and soprano singers, and also in eunnchs, after death, would be of great 
interest in a physiological point of view; but the same parts should be measured in other 
individuals at the same time, that the grounds of the comparison may be the same, for if the 
vocal cords be measured from their anterior extremity only, as far as the point of the anterior 
process of the arytenoid cartilage, the length indicated will be less than when they are mea¬ 
sured in the manner above described.


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