Call me unsophisticated, call me uneducated, call me what you will, but I have never heard of the term “vocal fry” until last week. Still, I am VERY familiar with it on an experiential basis.
The vocal fry register (also known as pulse register, laryngealisation, pulse phonation, creak, croak, popcorning, glottal fry, glottal rattle, glottal scrap, or strohbass) is the lowest vocal register and is produced through a loose glottal closure which will permit air to bubble through slowly with a popping or rattling sound of a very low frequency.
I was turned onto a very interesting debate last week on CBC in Canada. Naomi Wolf, a foremost feminist of our time, argued that young women use vocal fry to their detriment. The other two highly qualified panelists debated that women should be allowed to speak however they want to, without judgement.
While I do have an opinion about the debate itself, my concern is vocal fry as an authentic expression of who we are (not to mention it being detrimental to vocal health or as a result of poor health).
For me, being authentic, while also striving to be a confident version of ourselves, accepting ourselves…no matter what that looks like, is foremost. Hiding behind vocal fry can be an affectation that masks our confident selves…or, as a result of previous trauma that, again, masks our confident selves. I can attest to not accepting myself and to not only using vocal fry perhaps occasionally in my life, but also having it appear inadvertently due to not being at my best.
When we don’t present ourselves clearly, we are not heard. When we hide behind vocal affectations, we undermine ourselves, personally and professionally.
How EVER we present ourselves to the world provides others the opportunity to perceive us. Whether a first impression, or a long term impression, we exude personality and expression through our outer appearance and our voice. How we are judged is not up to us. How we deal with it is.
Should we be allowed to express ourselves how ever we like? Sure. Do humans judge? Unfortunately, yes. I don’t believe we could ever change that. Still, there is no doubt that many of us would like to be perceived as intelligent and self-assured. Using our full voice, not hiding behind affectations, is in our best interest.
Are you aware when you or someone else expresses themselves in their “vocal fry register”? Is there any benefit to using it consciously? Perhaps…if you are building an empire based on that image. Otherwise, it’s a little irresponsible, don’t you think? Whoops. There I go judging again…