Dynamic System Coupling in Voice Production

Christian T. Herbst*, Coen P.H. Elemans, Isao T. Tokuda, Vasileios Chatziioannou, Jan G. Švec

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Voice is a major means of communication for humans, non-human mammals and many other vertebrates like birds and anurans. The physical and physiological principles of voice production are described by two theories: the MyoElastic-AeroDynamic (MEAD) theory and the Source-Filter Theory (SFT). While MEAD employs a multiphysics approach to understand the motor control and dynamics of self-sustained vibration of vocal folds or analogous tissues, SFT predominantly uses acoustics to understand spectral changes of the source via linear propagation through the vocal tract. Because the two theories focus on different aspects of voice production, they are often applied distinctly in specific areas of science and engineering. Here, we argue that the MEAD and the SFT are linked integral aspects of a holistic theory of voice production, describing a dynamically coupled system. The aim of this manuscript is to provide a comprehensive review of both the MEAD and the source-filter theory with its nonlinear extension, the latter of which suggests a number of conceptual similarities to sound production in brass instruments. We discuss the application of both theories to voice production of humans as well as of animals. An appraisal of voice production in the light of non-linear dynamics supports the notion that voice production can best be described with a systems view, considering coupled systems rather than isolated contributions of individual sub-systems.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Voice
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1. Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge a research grant received from Land Salzburg (to CTH), a NovoNordisk Interdisciplinary Synergy grant to (CPHE), and the Czech Science Foundation (GA CR) project no. 19-04477S (to JGS).


  • MEAD
  • Myoelastic-aerodynamic theory
  • Phonation
  • Source-filter coupling
  • Source-filter interactions
  • Source-filter theory
  • Voice


Dive into the research topics of 'Dynamic System Coupling in Voice Production'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this