Why do female voices sound male when the pitch is lowered, but male voices do not sound female when the pitched is heightened?


Whenever I hear those songs on YouTube where they pitch shift a female singer ([example](https://youtu.be/5aWB6l5GlP8)) they tend to sound like tenors for sopranos and basses for altos. However, when the same treatment is done to male singers, they just sound higher pitched. I don’t know whether it has to do with the vocal cords themselves or software.

In: Biology

It has to do with the resonances of different voices. A high tenor range male will have a “thinner” low range, if you will. A bass will likely have a fuller, warmer low range. This is due to the way the sound resonates in their entire vocal setup.

When you shift the pitch of something, you can also shift what is called the “formants” which are basically spikes of resonance at a certain range of the sound. Basses have these formants lower where sopranos might have them higher. Shifting the pitch without the formants leads to the formants being in the “wrong” place for that vocal range.

The placement of these formants is what makes each range sound high or low for a singer. So when the formants are slightly too low, the sound produced will sound like someone singing in the upper range of their voice. If the formants are higher, it will sound like they are singing lower.

This is why when you pitch down a high female voice, it sounds like a high tenor. The formants are in a similar enough place that it sounds okay and just like a man with that vocal profile. But shifting your average male voice up will result in the formants being far too low which will not match the sound of a female singer.

I mean, it doesn’t sound terribly masculine to me, just low pitched female voice. Generally men will have different overtones in their voices than women, since the vocal cords are thicker, and because a lot of men will tend to pronounce things closer to the back of their throat. In addition, a lot of female voices tend to be more sibilant with sharper consonant sounds, specifically s’s. Men can train their voice to sound closer to womens, its a arduous process and offers no payoff unless youre a transwoman, or you’re really dedicated to shocking your friends with your suspiciously skilled parlor trick.