In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Voice and Voice Quality

  • Introduction
  • Monographs
  • Edited Volumes
  • Associations and Congresses
  • Journals

Linguistics Voice and Voice Quality
Jody Kreiman
  • LAST REVIEWED: 13 December 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 August 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199772810-0258


The sound of a voice—its quality—plays an integral role in the biological and social existences of animal species ranging from frogs to birds to elephants to primates and humans. Across animal species, voice plays a part in many, many aspects of behavior, including mate selection and attraction, social organization, identification of parent/child/significant others, signaling of emotion and aggressive intent, and providing information about health, age, sex, and size. Voice quality is a critical component of acting, oratory, singing, motivating and persuading others, and projecting a likeable image across space (and of course is essential to the production of spoken language). The study of voice quality is thus by its very nature inherently interdisciplinary, to an extent that can create a large burden of scholarship on those wishing to understand not just what sounds occur, but why and how they carry the messages they do. The study of voice quality also depends critically on understanding voice production and acoustics. Biologically, a voice necessarily reflects the body that produced it—the size and shape of the vocal folds and vocal tract, patterns of articulation, and so on—and perception has co-evolved with those phonating bodies, so it functions as it does to take advantage of the information on offer about the speaker. In the same way, speakers produce sound in order to communicate with or influence listeners, so the voice production apparatus has evolved to produce sounds listeners can hear and evaluate, and to send biologically relevant messages. Because voice production and perception are inseparably intertwined in this way, this bibliography includes references describing voice production as well as voice perception. Beyond these fundamentals, the study of voice quality includes work on perception of personal attributes (identity, age, size, race, sex, and so on), expression and perception of emotion and personality, linguistic uses of changes in quality, and a host of other research areas. This bibliography provides representative and/or foundational studies in many of these areas, as an invitation and a gateway to further exploration.


There are relatively few monographs dealing with the scientific study of voice, although many textbooks describing diagnosis and treatment of voice disorders have appeared (see Clinical Issues), as have a number of texts dealing with the singing voice (see Singing Voice). Still more texts deal with the philosophical, social, or cultural aspects of voice, some of which are included under Critical Studies. Kreiman and Sidtis 2011 offers a broad introduction to the study of voice. Laver 1980 proposes an influential phonetic model of voice quality; and Titze 1994 provides an excellent description of the physical principles underlying voice production.

  • Kreiman, J., and D. Sidtis. 2011. Foundations of voice studies. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

    DOI: 10.1002/9781444395068

    The closest thing to a general introduction to the study of voice, this comprehensive text emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of the voice and the linkages among production, acoustics, and perception.

  • Laver, J. 1980. The phonetic description of voice quality. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    A foundational work in this area, this book proposes a set of linguistic-style distinctive features for voice quality that continues to be influential, particularly in the United Kingdom.

  • Titze, I. R. 1994. Principles of voice production. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

    Written by one of field’s pioneers and leaders, this book is the most accessible general introduction to the biological, biomechanical, and physical principles underlying voice production.

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