Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tonal Tuesdays - Vocal Fry or Just Fried

Something I have noticed for quite some time, particularly  in young females, is the use of a "raspy" style of talking.  The voice is placed at the back of the throat in many cases and to me, sounds very uncomfortable.  In fact, I can hardly stand to listen to it.  Many of these young ladies positively sound as if they have a permanent cold.

A few weeks ago, a new choir member was concerned because his voice felt scratchy after singing.  What was actually happening was that he wasn't "placing" his voice correctly.  After working on understanding of correct posture and the feeling of the voice placed "forward" as opposed to back in the throat, he was amazed at the difference.  We know that we need to use breath control to carry our voices but physical stance enhances that ability.

Let me simplify this whole idea.  When I taught young singers, I would tell them that their sound didn't come out of their mouths but out of the magic whale spout on the top of their heads.  When little hands would creep up to check I would remind them that it was indeed MAGIC and only worked when they were singing.  Of course, when I taught adults and teens, I would tell them what I told the young ones and they managed that same physical stance.

Note that even this cute little cartoon has his chin down, his eyes up and thus the back of the throat more open and less restricted allowing for greater air flow and support for sound.
This may not be scientific, but it works.  Once you feel the difference, the sound is more stable and the singer more relaxed.

The general term for that scratchy sound is Vocal Fry.  Some rock singers use it to create a unique sound.  Again, it must be placed correctly or damage will ensue.  I remember when our daughter was playing the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz in high school, she created a really nasty cackle but practised placing it correctly so that she wouldn't damage her vocal chords.  Any sound can work, but correct placement of sound is essential for the comfort of both the listener and singer or speaker.  If in doubt, read and practise or take some lessons.  The result will be more than worth it.

P.S.  Children who shout to music are not singing and it is not cute!!  Children can place their voices correctly and make a great sound.  Just let them be whales and away they go.

1 comment:

Colleen said...

Yes indeed, you can even cackle through your whale spout! I have done it. Tee hee.