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What is the Glottis?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The glottis is the term used to describe the part of the larynx that contains the vocal cords. It also includes the vocal folds as well as the spaces found between them. The glottis is instrumental in the development and creation of speech in humans.

The vocal folds of the glottis are responsible for sound vibrations that create somewhat of a buzzing sound. It is through this process that speech becomes possible. Pronunciation is the primary function of the glottis. By learning to exercise some degree of control over this area of the body, speaking in different dialects becomes a possibility.

With practice, it is possible to control some of the vibrations produced by the glottis. This is important when learning to speak and properly pronounce different words and sounds. This also helps a person to change his or her voice in order to speak in different dialects or even in other languages. Learning this type of control is also useful when learning to play certain musical instruments.

The Valsalva maneuver is also made possible by the use of the glottis. This is done when a person forces himself or herself to exhale through an airway that is closed. This maneuver is performed by pinching the nose closed while closing the mouth at the same time.

Named after Antonio Maria Valsalva, a 17th century physician, the Valsalva maneuver is often used during a medical examination. This discipline is used as a measure to test various anatomical functions. For instance, it is often used as a way to test heart function. This method can also be employed to help equalize the pressure between the ears and the sinuses.

The glottis itself is comprised not only of the true vocal cords, but it also includes what is known as the rima glottidis. This is the space between the vocal cords and cartilages known as the arytenoid cartilages. These are simply a pair of pyramid-shaped structures which form part of the larynx, or voice box. The vocal cords are attached to this pair of cartilages.

The larynx is a hollow structure that is connected to the trachea, also referred to as the windpipe. In addition to helping to produce vocal sounds, the larynx also works to keep food particles from entering the respiratory tract. This part of the body is used when talking, breathing, or swallowing.

The glottis is protected by a small flap called the epiglottis. This flap is made of tissue made of elastic cartilage. It is covered by a mucus membrane and attaches to the tongue. It is this flap of tissue that opens and closes in order to send food into the esophagus instead of allowing it to enter the trachea.

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Discussion Comments

By Certlerant — On Mar 03, 2014

Voice projection is an important part of some professions. In singing and public speaking, speaking loudly and clearly is essential.

A major part of projecting your voice is using a proper breathing technique. Learning to breath deeply and filling your diaphragm rather then just your lungs can be taught and practiced. Good level breathing directly contributes to the quality of your voice.

Proper breathing and projection from your diaphragm is an important part of playing many instruments as well. Playing an instrument takes more practice than singing, but many of the same principles apply.

It often takes years of performing and practice to reach the breathing and projection found in a Broadway musical. These are people who have been training for most of their lives to make the big stage. Not to mention the competition at that level is stiff.

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