The vocalis muscle is a special muscle that, in the vast majority of cases, is counted as the internal musculature of the larynx. The muscle belongs to the so-called musculus thyroarytaenoideus, which is composed of the outer pars externus and the inner vocalis muscle.

What is the vocalis muscle?

The Musculus vocalis is also referred to by a part of the physicians with the synonymous name Internus. In English, the muscle is known as the so-called vocal muscle.

The muscle is part of the internal musculature of the larynx area. The muscles of the larynx belong in principle to the skeletal muscles. The laryngeal musculature is in the midst of various cartilaginous tissues around the larynx. Depending on how the muscles of the larynx are moved, a certain effect on the glottis and vocal cords develops. In this way, phonation results through the larynx. Because the muscles of the larynx contribute significantly to the vocalization, in some cases they are also called 'phonation muscles'.

Anatomy & Construction

The vocalis muscle is characterized by its typical structure and its localization in the area of ​​the internal musculature of the larynx. In addition, the vocalis muscle is characterized by its characteristic course.

In principle, the vocalis muscle emerges from the posterior region of the cartilago thyroidea. It is the so-called thyroid cartilage, which is a cartilaginous element in the region of the larynx. In its further course, the vocalis muscle continues on the anterior part of the processus at the arytenoid cartilage. The arytenoid cartilage is referred to with medical terminology as Cartilagines arytaenoideae and consists of two elements together. These belong to the cartilaginous structure of the larynx and act as supports of the voice organ.

In addition, the vocalis muscle is intertwined with the fibers of some muscles, these compounds being primarily fibrous. The innervation of the vocalis muscle is also relevant in the context of its anatomy. The vocalis muscle is for the most part innervated by the so-called laryngeal nerve. It is the outermost branch of the recurrent laryngeal nerve. Its most important task is to innervate the complete muscles of the larynx. He is not responsible for the cricothyroid muscle only.

Function & Tasks

The vocalis muscle takes on a multitude of important tasks and functions in the area of ​​the internal musculature of the larynx. As a result, the vocalis muscle contributes significantly to the function of the vocal tract. Basically, the vocalis muscle is part of the so-called sphincter system on the larynx. In this context, the muscle is primarily responsible for closing the upper airways in the process of swallowing. This is achieved primarily by contracting the vocalis muscle during swallowing.

Its second essential function is to support voice production. In particular, the vocalis muscle is responsible for ensuring tension in the vocal fold or vocal cord. The vocal folds are referred to in medical parlance as Labia vocalia or Plica vocalis. These are two tissue-like folds, which are characterized by a horizontal course. On the surface of the vocal folds there is a special type of mucous membrane. Basically, the vocal folds are located inside the larynx. The vocal folds make a significant contribution to phonation and voice production.

The intertwined structures allow finest gradations in the tone. This results in a tremendous effect on the vocal cords and their ability to vibrate. In principle, the vocal cords are bands of high flexibility and elasticity. The vocal cords unfold from the arytenoid cartilage to the thyroid cartilage.

An important task of the vocalis muscle is its isometric contraction. He sets the flywheel in motion, which plays an essential role especially in a change in the voice volume. An isometric contraction of muscles, as in the case of the vocalis muscle, occurs when the length of the muscles concerned remains the same. In addition, the vocalis muscle is a direct antagonist of the so-called cricothyroid muscle, which extends the vocal folds. This muscle is part of the outer muscles of the larynx area.

The antagonism between the two muscles becomes more significant as the volume of the voice and the depth of the sound increase. In addition, the vocalis muscle is also responsible for completely closing the so-called glottis. The glottis is referred to in the medical jargon as Rima glottidis and represents a kind of gap between the two vocal folds. The vocalis muscle closes the area between the membranes completely, which also supports the vocal folds.


Potential ailments and diseases related to the vocalis muscle are primarily related to its two essential functions. The vocalis muscle performs essential tasks in the area of ​​the internal musculature of the larynx.

Here he plays an important role especially in the process of swallowing and phonation. Impairments of the vocalis muscle may cause problems with the larynx during swallowing. In addition, difficulties in voice production or phonation are possible if the vocalis muscle does not fulfill its function as usual.

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