Glottis

Term Category: Anatomy

The glottis is a critical anatomical feature within the larynx that plays a fundamental role in the production of sound, breathing, and protecting the airway. The glottis is the space between the true vocal folds.


Function and Importance:

1. Sound Production (Phonation): The glottis is essential in phonation, the process of producing vocal sounds. When the vocal folds come close together and vibrate, sound is produced. The tension, length, and mass of the vocal folds, as well as the size and shape of the glottal opening, determine the pitch and quality of the sound produced.

2. Breathing: During normal breathing, the vocal folds are apart, which keeps the glottis open, allowing air to pass freely into and out of the lungs. The glottis is closed between each breath phase.

3. Airway Protection: The glottis plays a crucial role in protecting the airway during swallowing. The vocal folds close tightly to prevent food and liquid from entering the trachea and lungs.


Impact on Singing and Vocalization:

- Control over the glottis is a fundamental aspect of vocal technique for singers and speakers. The ability to manipulate the tension and position of the vocal folds, and thereby the size of the glottal opening, allows for the production of a wide range of sounds and pitches.

- Techniques such as glottal onset (the vocal folds start close together and then open), glottal offset (a brief closure of the vocal folds during phonation), and control over glottal width (for breathy or clear tone production) are all essential skills for vocalists.


In summary, the glottis is a vital anatomical structure in the larynx, primarily responsible for the production of sound, breathing, and protecting the respiratory tract. Its proper function is crucial for effective and healthy vocalization, making its control a key aspect of vocal training and technique.

Josh Manuel

Josh Manuel, a voice instructor and founder of VoiceScience, is dedicated to empowering singers by providing evidence-based techniques and knowledge for enhanced performance and vocal health. His expertise and passion in the field of vocal science have made him a trusted resource for singers seeking to improve their skills and achieve their full potential.

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