My Voice Is “Fry’d”
I’ve seen it time and time again. I am called in to work with a singer who is experiencing vocal trouble only to discover the issue as soon as they begin talking.
Singers, from developing artists to superstars – all speaking at a pitch so low that they are rattling in vocal fry. Vocal fry is that croaky sound at the lowest end of the speaking voice.
This type of speaking is caused by pressing the vocal cords together too intensely, while allowing the vocal cords themselves to become too slack.
Over time, this excess pressure can cause serious vocal issues. Singers are especially at risk due to the vocal demands of singing.
Vocal fry is the extreme end of speaking too low, but even if you don’t descend completely into vocal fry, there are issues with speaking even just a little lower than your optimal pitch.
A major problem of speaking at too low is that the voice lacks the acoustic energy necessary to be heard properly by others, especially in louder environments like restaurants.
A proper speaking pitch creates higher resonances in the voice. These resonances are able to cut through the ambient noise of a restaurant, allowing your fellow diners to hear you clearly.
A low speaking pitch is does not have strong upper resonances, which can cause the speaker to push harder in order to be heard. This creates vocal fatigue and strain.
In The Workplace
When I first started teaching I would be vocally exhausted by the end of the day – with a scratchy voice and constantly clearing my throat.
I then read, “Change Your Voice, Change Your Life” by Dr. Morton Cooper and realized my speaking pitch was creating the problem.
I employed the exercises he suggested and within a few days I was much better. Now I could get through a long session with no issues.
My low pitch was causing me to push too hard, creating strain which swelled the cords, which in turn drove the pitch even lower. It was a destructive cycle. Once I found my proper pitch I was able to talk for hours with no fatigue.
This Woman’s Work
I recommend that all singers pay particular attention to their speaking voices, especially women. The reason I say this is that low pitch speaking is especially problematic for females and becoming more so.
There is speculation that this may be caused by social factors as women gain more ground in the workplace. There is perhaps a psychological component to speak with more authority, which often shows itself as a lower pitch.
Take care of your voice at all times, whether speaking or singing. Your listeners and your vocal cords will thank you.