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    Mayo Clinic Minute: Why your voice sounds the way it does

Everyone's voice is unique. Dr. David Lott, a Mayo Clinic otolaryngologist and head and neck surgeon, says the way your voice sounds has to do with a complex series of events. He compares the process to what happens when you strum a guitar.

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Journalists: Broadcast-quality video (0:59) is in the downloads at the end of this post. Please 'Courtesy: Mayo Clinic News Network.' Read the script.

"This is what the voice box looks like."

Dr. David Lott says your diaphragm and lungs push air up to the vocal cords, which vibrate.

"Once it hits there, there are waves in the air, and those waves are going to vibrate in your pharynx, the upper part of your throat, the back part of your nose, and in the sinuses in your head."

It's similar to what happens when you play a guitar.

"The guitar strings are what your vocal cords are. They just vibrate and make a buzz sound."

The vibrations resonate in the body of the guitar — just like they do in your head. How the tones sound depends on the shape and sound of the instrument.

"And because everybody's throat, nose and head are different, we all have our own signature sounds."