Voice pitch communicates far more than we often think. If you want to win with your voice, you should understand what voice pitch is and how it all works.
By the end of reading this, you should have a sound understanding of what it is and how you can use your voice in different ways to communicate different subtleties to the people you talk to.
You will also be able to identify patterns of pitch and speech that indicate how the speaker is feeling (anxious, calm)
Finally, we will talk about how you can get control of the pitch you speak in; for instance, if you feel like you belong to the folks that speak in higher-pitched voices as we explore the register in the human voice.
You may already realize men using low tones tend to be perceived stronger or as having more strength, and others tend to rate it as a sign they are among men who may prove to be better sexually.
That way you can work on your voice if you aren’t totally happy with your pitch.
A simple definition of voice pitch is: Voice pitch is a frequency, uniform soundwaves attributed to a musical note. (Just like on a piano). What makes pitches of voice unique is how uniform the sound waves are of the tone and the frequency or pattern the pitch travels in.
The human ear picks up on the uniform frequency and recognizes it as a pitch or note.
The tighter the frequency (pitch) the higher it is and the farther spread apart the frequency represents lower pitched sound.
In the image above you can see if it is higher pitched you’d expect to see the sound waves closer together; whereas lower pitched is represented in wider sound waves.
Table of Contents
Your Pitch Varies Naturally – Sex, Male Gender Role, Female Gender Role and Vocal Quality
Within this section of the article, we will discuss normal vocal ranges in humans among men and women, the human voice, university studies, research, and information on human anatomies such as the larynx and vocal folds.
In society, we expect male voices to be lower and female voices to be higher. However, what most of us don’t know is that there are vocal changes in women centered around their cycles and hormones.
Separate studies appear to be united and reveal information on humans and vocal pitches that are no different than what you’d expect except for what I’ve listed below.
Quote: Receptors for sex hormones have been found on the vocal folds, suggesting a link between hormone levels and vocal fold function, which might cause changes in voice production. (Source references: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5568722/)
Could it be true that women tell us in a subtle way when they are the most fertile? Yep, it all has to do with the larynx and vocal cords. What can I say, women are amazing! My what fine larynx you have (laughing as I write this).
Now is probably a good time to point out that studies show that lower pitch tone ranges may also indicate an interest in sex. Just think about how your communication pattern changes when you find a certain someone attractive or when that particular person responds better than expected.
More research? Just do a search on a university study on sex and vocal quality, or search up information produced to help singers influence their vocal range. There are many free studies and free tools that you can view to improve your pitch over the what you have traditionally used. Look up Feinberg DR .
You’ll find that typically a university and other researchers find there is a correlation between lower pitched voices and attractiveness.
Pitch preference and using the right speech volume
Whether you prefer a low pitch communication style or hold perceptions that your pitch rate is among the highest, you can influence the sound produced by managing breath support and resonance.
When it comes to pitch, there is a natural expectation of a male’s voice and a female’s voice. Interestingly enough, it is related to how much deeper it is than a child’s voice. University studies show that human pitch changes as we age and go through puberty.
Quote: Voice is characterized by its… intensity and harmonics. The harmonics are hormonally dependent….. Female voice has a fundamental frequency one-third lower than that of a child. In males, androgen released at puberty is responsible for the male vocal frequency being an octave lower than that of a child. (Source https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19185458/)
So, What is the pitch of a female’s voice? Well.. (pushing up my nerd glasses on my nose), approximately 33% lower than what is associated with the high voice of children.
Think about how children sound when they are playing. You don’t have to do any official research to know that the screeching pitch offers up a massively high tone and the sounds are different than the human voice of an adult.
Men and women know that children often shriek and shrill, which may not be our preference, but children do one thing well by using breath support.
They speak from the diaphragm. They control their vocal pitch from their bellies. We will go over this information a bit later. But for now, consider that they nearly speak with their whole body, regardless of their size.
I believe it is because they are free and haven’t adopted all of the inhibitions that many people get as they grow through life, get into trouble and develop communication styles that allow us to be accepted, more social, and perceived as attractive.
Where does your voice pitch show up on the piano? How should you sound? What note range should we speak in?
To discuss what actual note a child typically speaks in we’d almost have to go over to a piano. For instance, my natural speaking voice is around an E or F in the octave below the middle C on an acoustic piano.
If I’m saying “Hi” to someone with enthusiasm, I’m usually around G or A in the octave below middle C. It creates more of a happy sound.
However, my wife thinks it’s romantic when I speak to her in a lower voice down between F# and A# nearly an octave and a half below middle C on piano. I call it my FM radio voice. Imagine what someone sounds like when they say something Smooth Jazz on the radio.
So if we use these notes as the range, we’d have to assume that the average child’s voice tone comes in around E,F,G above middle C which places a woman’s voice (since an octave is 8 notes) 2-3 notes below this.
I speculate that women’s voices typically hover around middle C on an acoustic piano.
Lower Pitched Voices vs. Higher Pitched Voices
It helps to think of sound waves as we think of ripples in a pond. If you drop a rock into calm water, you will see that ripples proceed in all directions. Sound waves do the same thing except we can’t see it happen in the air.
This is how bombs work. It is a sound/shock wave that is stronger than the building materials used to give hold things together.
Pitch is a sound wave that hits your eardrum.
You can control the pitch of voice (modulation of voice) by creating more tension on your vocal cords. Think of vocal folds as a set of rubber bands or a guitar string. The more you stretch or apply tension on the vocal folds (bands) the higher the note it will produce when strum.
Why is My Voice So High (or low)?
Vocal cords, the modulation voice center, vary in thickness in all of us. The highness or lowness (high pitched voice and lower voice pitch) is controlled by 3 things.
- The anatomy (size) of an individual’s vocal cords aka vocal folds
- The stress or tension you put on your vocal folds (modulated voice)
- The amount of air passing over the vocal folds (controlled by your diaphragm)
Why should you even care about this?
Make no mistake if you are used to using speech patterns that are suppressed low volume, sound nasally, or rate your speech quality as poor, you can free your diaphragm and start producing improved speech patterns, speech volume, speech delivery, and create a context that appears more united and confident.
It could help you know where to start and help you acquire the vocal tone you want.
For starters, if you are a male, you are most likely here because you are trying to figure out how people are able to have lower pitched voices, and maybe you have a naturally higher pitched voice.
Or if you are a female, you may be looking for a higher pitch voice. A higher human voice may be perceived (vs. a low pitch) or associated with feminity or related to the female gender role.
Either way you may have started to realize that if you stress your vocal folds too much your pitch will go up. By learning the right amount of tension on your vocal cords, you can help better focus on the tone that is most appealing.
But before I cover this, you need to know that in humans not everything is possible. Yes, it can help, but men have certain ranges that they normally operate in and women have the same.
Let’s look at normal human voice pitch for men and for women. If you didn’t grow up singing in a choir, it may help to introduce you to the concepts of pitches particular to singers. Every human will fall into one of these categories. While there are many voices and many speech sounds a human voice will fall within the information below.
What We Can Learn from A Singer’s Voice
Did you know there are more than one voice type.
Broadly speaking, there are 4 types of voices:
Typically men have baritone or tenor voices and women alto or soprano voices. While the speech ranges of a baritone, think of each one of these as a range.
Although speech sounds and a speaker’s pitch will vary. If I forced you to sing a familiar song and then told you that you have to carry out a speech in the first note you started with, you’d find that you’d be pretty close to your natural pitch.
Why because when you don’t have time to think about it, your body will just start where it feels comfortable. Naturally, everyone would use their voices within the range of use they are most accustomed to using.
Next time you are invited to sing the “happy birthday” song or practice a speech in front of a mirror, pay attention to the pitch you start with and use.
That is the pitch you want to memorize and start to work from.
How can I lower my voice pitch?
Men’s Insight – Men often want to sound masculine. Men with a high register may wonder why they feel stuck with and can’t get used to sounding too feminine.
The good news is that there are things you can do to change what you are used to.
If you are trying to learn how make your voice deeper or how you can belong to the group of individuals with lower pitched voices, you need to understand resonance and search up information on how to place your sound in your chest, neck, or head.
In order to understand what voice pitch is, it’s helpful to start by classifying singing voices into voice types.
How does your voice change pitch?
Voice sounds are produced by the combination of the tension on your vocal cords and the amount of air (breath support) traveling around them.
Singers and great public speakers typically learn how to control their sound through the use of different registers. I have a great article that I wrote on what they are and how to access different registers to strengthen or produce a more uniform sound.
You will want to get a grip on resonance, how, and where sound leaves us as we communicate.
For the purpose of this article I refer mostly to language that we speak in western countries, I’m not really considering languages that rely on tones for communication. For those that aren’t aware, tonal languages are languages that have language attributes that require inflection to convey the meaning of a word.
For instance, the Chinese language modifies the word/sound “ma” several different ways. It can incorporate language inflection upwards at the end of the word, language inflection at the beginning of the sound, a flat language tone that remains the same during the pronunciation of the word, as well as other language inflections and tonal placement in the pharynx (nasal) area.
As such, language can play a role in the scope of all of this.
I hope that my blog helps you achieve the pitch you desire. Thanks for reading.