The vocal folds, also known commonly as your vocal cords, are composed of twin infoldings of mucous membrane stretched horizontally across the larynx. They vibrate, modulating the flow of air being expelled from the lungs during phonation.
Open during inhalation, closed when holding one's breath, and vibrating for speech or singing (oscillating 440 times per second when singing A above middle C), the folds are controlled via the vagus nerve. They are white because of scant blood circulation.
Birds do not produce vocal sounds by means of vocal folds but by oscillations of membranes in the syrinx.
Read more about Vocal Folds: Vocal Fold Oscillation, Location, Sex Differences, Spelling and Etymology, False Vocal Folds, Vocal Fold Wound Healing, Human Vocal Fold Anatomy and Its Biomechanical Consideration
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