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Creak, sometimes called fry is a similar sounding rough, a-periodic noise. It happens when we have too much closure for the amount of airflow, and so the folds don’t vibrate in a periodic wave, being interrupted occasionally.
You can see it pretty clearly on a spectrogram. Notice the noise and roughness:
Example of a very creaky voice:
Creak and fry (M0) are distinct in practice (though they are thought to possibly be the same by some)
- creak can be at any pitch and is caused primarily by airflow dynamics
- fry is always at the bottom of the vocal range (though it can be coerced higher) and airflow mostly doesn’t matter
Common places to see creak
Creak is a fairly common part of female speech patterns. It isn’t in itself gendered of course. Some accents (see: valley girl) have more creak in them.
Issues with Creak
While creak is pretty normal it can be annoying to not be able to get rid of it. Since it’s airflow based, adding a slight amount of air and making airflow more consistent especially at the end of phrases, can help. SOVTEs can help with this to some extent, particularly lip trills.
Lip trills require balanced airflow, which means we can use this to get a consistent airflow habit and therefore avoid creak.
Madeline Harvey’s video covers this. The lip trills are at 4:38 but the breath support information in the beginning is very useful too for airflow consistency.
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