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The quote from the composer and musician Vangelis sounds at first like an artist’s mystical musing, but really it couldn’t be more true, particularly of speech sound. When the vocal cords vibrate (as they do during “voiced” speech sounds), they contact each other and produce air pressure pulses in a repeating rhythm between 70–250 times each second. This rhythm is so rapid that it yields a sound in the surrounding air having the vibration rate as its fundamental frequency, which is heard as a pitched tone (melody). Moreover, the complicated mechanical nature of the vocal cord vibration gives rise to a series of harmonic frequencies in the sound, which are integer multiples of the lowest frequency.
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