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FVF or False Vocal Folds are the ventricular folds, just above the true vocal folds. When stressed, swallowing or holding our breath tightly, these constrict and close to protect the true folds. In older voices, we hear FVF more because the true folds have atrophied and over time lost the ability to function correctly, so the false folds pick up the lost closure.
The false folds should not be activated in normal speech.
There are commonly two problems associated with false fold constriction, FVF closure conflation and passive FVF constriction.
This is where the false folds are constricted when we try to add true fold closure. If left unchecked it can be very difficult to remedy. There are signs of this that you can check on fortunately.
- hold your breath as lightly as possible.
- breath out (you should notice a very slight pop)
- if this pop is easily heard, you probably have FVF closure coming in
- use glottal taps like we just did, and make the sound lighter and lighter, focusing on keeping a consistent stream of air. Don’t use less air to make it softer, use more to challenge yourself to do it correctly
Good glottal taps:
Constricted glottal taps:
This is where the voice constantly sound rough and hoarse. We can check for passive FVF in a few ways.
We can use quiet breathing as a way to reduce false fold constriction because the loudness of a breath is directly tied to the amount of restriction in the throat; which is what adding false folds does.
It is very important that we stay relaxed in this exercise. If we add effort in any way it could encourage some things we definitely don’t want.
- Breathe in and out normally
- Breathe in and out again, but make it silent and airy
- this is similar to when blowing out a candle
- Breathe out again
- in the middle of the out breath say “ah”
- don’t try to change pitch
- leave the “ah” as the default position with no effort
- this is similar to a sigh
- Breathe out again
- this time change the pitch to the target pitch
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- use a very light humming sound
- make it lighter
- is there a roughness or “rattle”?
- yes -> probably constricted
- no -> probably not constricted