…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World
Reprinted here from Volume 3. p.1794 of Arthur Mee’s Children’s Encyclopedia, since I wrote about singing in an earlier post.
When a boy’s voice breaks, it is because his voice-box is suddenly becoming rather larger. As a girl grows up to a woman, her voice-box grows steadily in proportion to the rest of her body. But, for some reason, Nature prefers that men shall have much deeper and louder voices than women, In order that this shall be so, the larynx, or voice-box, must be much larger in proportion, and the vocal cords longer in men than in women.
This particular change begins to happen when a boy is about fourteen or fifteen years of age. It is not really necessary for a boy’s voice to break – that is to say, it is possible for his voice to get steadily and evenly lower. But, as a rule, this does not happen, and the reason is, not that that there is anything the matter with the boy’s voice-box, but simply that he has not learned how to work it.
The muscles are getting bigger and heavier, the cords are getting longer, and this is happening very quickly, and, of course, it must mean that a new skill has to be acquired, just as if one has learned to play perfectly on a very small violin, and then had to play on a full-sized one. That is why the boy has not the proper control over his voice, and sometimes speaks in a low pitch and then suddenly in a high one.