Voice instabilities were studied using excised human larynx experiments and biomechanical modeling. With a controlled elongation of the vocal folds, the experiments showed registers with chest-like and falsetto-like vibrations. Observed instabilities included abrupt jumps between the two registers exhibiting hysteresis, aphonic episodes, subharmonics, and chaos near the register transitions. In order to model these phenomena, a three-mass model was constructed by adding a third mass on top of the simplified two-mass model. Simulation studies showed that the three-mass model can vibrate in both chest-like and falsetto-like patterns. Variation of tension parameters which mimic activities of laryngeal muscles could induce transitions between both registers. For reduced prephonatory areas and damping constants, extended coexistence of chest and falsetto registers was found, in agreement with experimental data. Subharmonics and deterministic chaos were observed close to transitions between the registers. It is concluded that the abrupt changes between chest and falsetto registers can be understood as shifts in dominance of eigenmodes of the vocal folds.
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