“Vocal fry” certainly seems to be a hot topic these days. Earlier this month, Slate podcaster and NPR’s On the Media host Bob Garfield voiced his concerns about the vocal tic, causing many other writers and researchers to chime in about this “new linguistics fad” among young women today.
Vocal fry describes the raspy, scratchy or “creaky” sound often heard at the end of sentences and used prominently by pop singers like Britney Spears and Kesha. Researchers have identified it as a learned behavior, allowing young females to feel socially accepted among peers, but many academics are very, ahem, vocal about their dislike of the fad. Garfield, for example, describes the sound as “vulgar,” “repulsive” and “annoying.” Last year, Fast Company magazine even suggested that a vocal fry habit could ruin your chances at landing a job or promotion.
As a singer, you know that your voice is your instrument, on stage and off. So how bad is vocal fry really?
You might be surprised to find out that it’s actually not harmful, in the way that researchers have noticed its use in current trends. Since the gravelly sound isn’t engaged continuously – usually only at the ends of sentences – it’s unlikely to cause any damage. Still, it’s not the most pleasing sound if you’re trying to appear professional or when auditioning for certain roles.
On the other hand, “vocal fry” when it comes to singing is something totally different. Using vocal fry techniques can actually be a great warm-up exercise, especially when done in the higher register, because it requires you to really control the amount of air passing through your vocal cords. Essentially, you’re keeping your vocal cords closer together to create that gritty sound. Doing these exercises can help eliminate an overly-breathy sound.
Brett Manning from Singing Success has a great video featuring a vocal fry exercise – check it out below:
Our thoughts? Keep vocal fry in your warm-ups – not your everyday speech!
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