Table of contents
To achieve a lighter, brighter and sweeter voice in general.
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Before we get into a typical plan for voice feminisation, let’s get some things straight
- Pitch is not that important! Well, it’s actually really important but not in the way you might think. It’s very useful for training, intonation and a few other things, but it’s not a gender factor in and of itself.
- It’s important to be aware at every stage of the possibility of falling into bad habits so be aware of what can go wrong in each exercise. You don’t need to worry about it, just know that it can happen and then it won’t.
- Finding a voice example you think is an improvement on your current voice, or in other words is closer to your goal is really helpful for having a sense of direction. If you find you’re getting lost and aren’t sure what to do, this might help.
- Break large goals down into smaller steps! If you have a huge goal, it can demotivate you and make it harder to see the progress you’re getting. Instead of having a goal like “pass as X”, it’s a good idea to break it down into smaller steps like “change pitch to Y” and “learn vocal weight control to Z degree”.
- Sometimes, knowing voice anatomy or reading research papers or watching videos about voice pedagogy is useful for background, but if you’re reading or theorising more than you’re practising, it’s not helping!
- Avoid all kinds of effort or strain. If you can do a low pitch voice, and you can do a high pitch falsetto / hollow voice, then you should be able to do everything in between without strain! Keep it lazy and relaxed. If you add more effort, you will get less results in almost every case; keep it relaxed at least 95% of the time! Effort also partially prevents your subconscious from making voice changes, leading to a less natural sound, so the importance of this can’t be understated.
- Never try to move physical parts of your voice around manually (e.g. the larynx). Knowing that they move is fine, but the problem with setting moving something as the goal is that to move a physical thing, we expect feedback in the form of physical sensation (and also it’s a conscious action; we want subconscious actions as a priority). However, if you can feel physical sensations while using your voice, there’s something badly wrong! You don’t notice your voice normally because it’s so automatic and relaxed, so keep that trend going!
- Drills and exercises are for exploration and to induce a change in some vocal characteristic before using your voice. Exploration is one of the most important parts of voice because most of voice is determined by coordination and habit.
- Practice doesn’t mean just doing drills. Good practice is drilling only when needed, then speaking freely. Here’s a biased ranking of practice methods:
- speaking in the presence of voices you want to sound like
- just talking in voice chat or in person
- doing a drill and reading a passage
- doing SOVTEs or VFEs
- Have fun with it! If you approach voice training as something to experiment with and explore then you’ll get incredibly fast progress. This is regardless of how much you actually need your voice to be a certain way; the fact remains that being less attached to the sounds you make while training will help substantially to free your voice up to learn new skills.
Below is a typical plan assuming an average masculine voice trained to be feminine. This isn’t always accurate because everyone is different but it can give some direction to start. Adjustments will likely and should be made based on personal circumstances. You can do any of these things at any time, it’s more a generalisation. Often it’s most effective to be trying several things while working on one main concept.
Lower vocal weight and raise pitch
- the recommendation is to start by lowering vocal weight. Getting to a higher pitch with lower weight makes a significant difference already
- a relaxed high pitch will usually be light in vocal weight provided it isn’t forced in some other way (i.e. breathiness)
- using “awwww” as if talking to a cute puppy is a good behavioural trigger for getting light vocal weight
- just sliding up to a higher pitch and then down half as far (e.g. C3 to C4 to G3) will help a lot with this
- even just speaking at a slightly higher pitch than normal for a while will help, provided it is done naturally and not forced
- avoid breathiness or going too light, avoid M2 / falsetto for now
Raise resonance as needed
- try to think of resonance as just an aspect of sound, don’t focus on physical aspects like raising the larynx except for context
- people often raise their larynx (and thus, resonance) when going to a high pitch, so you might not even need to do this step
- avoid FVF constriction (old man / old woman voice)
- avoid unvoiced / whisper slides if you can, or prioritise doing voiced ones. If you do unvoiced slides, make sure they are not constricted or rough, use “la” or “wa” (soft onsets) to help reduce the chance of constriction
- clean the sound up before using it. Don’t use a configuration that is rough or efforful, make it smooth first even at the cost of lowering resonance slightly
If you’re at this stage and you have any roughness in your voice, now’s the time to sort it out. Going further will make it extremely difficult to unlearn later
- reduce breathiness
- practice lighter onsets with glottal strikes
- learn FVF retraction
- identify sources of tension and eliminate them
- find or create your strategically lazy configuration
- find an example of a voice you like
- avoid emphasis with volume for feminine voices
- vary tempo
- mimic someone’s speech patterns
- intonation doesn’t need to be super high, but it’s worth practicing
Get more pitch range
- at first this means just using the voice at a higher pitch sometimes to stretch your range. Fatigue is normal, but strain is to be avoided. If tension in neck persists for more than a few seconds after stopping speech, then you should rest and reevaluate your methods
- blending into m2/falsetto and making it sound more full
- practice intonating progressively higher
Start mimicry and learn microbehaviours
- you can do this at any time, but make sure you can hit the pitch and resonance of the voice you’re mimicking or else it might be quite difficult
- find a clip of a voice such as from voice examples that is not outside your pitch or resonance range
- put a beep sound at the beginning for timing if needed
- practice speaking over it as it plays and also listening and copying