The larynx (//) (plural larynges), commonly called the voice box, is an organ in the neck of amphibians, reptiles, and mammals involved in breathing, sound production, and protecting the trachea against food aspiration. It manipulates pitch and volume. The larynx houses the vocal folds (vocal cords), which are essential for phonation. The vocal folds are situated just below where the tract of the pharynx splits into the trachea and the esophagus.
In adult humans, the larynx is found in the anterior neck at the level of the C3–C6 vertebrae. It connects the inferior part of the pharynx (hypopharynx) with the trachea. The laryngeal skeleton consists of nine cartilages: three single (epiglottic, thyroid and cricoid) and three paired (arytenoid, corniculate, and cuneiform). The hyoid bone is not part of the larynx, though it is connected to it. The larynx extends vertically from the tip of the epiglottis to the inferior border of the cricoid cartilage. Its interior can be divided in supraglottis, glottis and subglottis.
In newborn infants, the larynx is initially at the level of the C2–C3 vertebrae, and is further forward and higher relative to its position in the adult body. The larynx descends as the child grows.
Sound is generated in the larynx, and that is where pitch and volume are manipulated. The strength of expiration from the lungs also contributes to loudness.
Fine manipulation of the larynx is used to generate a source sound with a particular fundamental frequency, or pitch. This source sound is altered as it travels through the vocal tract, configured differently based on the position of the tongue, lips, mouth, and pharynx. The process of altering a source sound as it passes through the filter of the vocal tract creates the many different vowel and consonant sounds of the world's languages as well as tone, certain realizations of stress and other types of linguistic prosody. The larynx also has a similar function as the lungs in creating pressure differences required for sound production; a constricted larynx can be raised or lowered affecting the volume of the oral cavity as necessary in glottalic consonants.