I have the impression that physiological parameters like e.g. the size of neck will alter their f0. It's just an impression but it seems to hold - I can usually guess someone's neck size over the phone (at least relatively so). But if I google this, nothing shows up - I see no evidence of a correlation in the literature.

Maybe some of you guys have some idea of whether there is a correlation between f0 and e.g. neck parameters?

2 Answers 2


Well, yes and no.

Vocal F0 range is mainly determined by the length and thickness of the vocal folds. Inasmuch as neck circumference correlates with the size of the vocal folds inside the neck, you could find a loose, indirect correlation between neck circumference and F0 range. For example, adults generally have thicker necks than children, and they generally have lower F0 ranges.

But there are several factors that contribute to neck circumference, and not all of them are associated with larger internal organs. For example, someone with a relatively high body fat index could have a very thick neck but relatively small vocal folds. Similarly, people who take up body building and build up all of the muscles in the neck will see an increase in neck circumference but not a concomitant decrease in vocal range.

If anything, neck length is going to be more reliable than neck circumference. The length of the neck is determined by skeletal structure, so it is more likely to be in proportion with the vocal folds. In the opera world, conventional wisdom says that the stereotypical tenor has a short neck and the stereotypical baritone has a long neck. But even that metric is not 100% reliable, since ultimately the growth of the vocal folds is independent from skeletal growth and can be influenced by such things as testosterone levels.


MusicalLinguist answer is excellent, but I thought I'd point you in the direction of some interesting literatute. There is research done into the relationship between F0 and physiological factors, but not strictly in linguistics. It's found a lot in Animal vocalisations though. Here's a paper by some researchers at Queen Mary in London.


There are several caveats however. For example, since it can beneficial to have a low F0 (since it would indicate that you are a larger animal), certain animals can lower their F0 by adjusting parameters such as formants so that they appear bigger than they actually are. I recommend looking at the research of Alan McElligott and his group at Queen Mary, as they study this quite a lot. Here's a link to another paper that discusses this in relation to male fallow deer.


  • 1
    Just a point of clarification--F0 can't be lowered by "adjusting formants". F0 (fundamental frequency) and formant frequencies are independent. The linked study did conclude that deer adjust their minimum formant dispersion (how far apart the formants are from one another) to sound bigger, but this was unrelated to F0. Commented Sep 4, 2015 at 13:54

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