At times, we may be in an environment where we can’t do all the usual exercises, but still want to work on our voice. Here are some alternatives that are either quiet or don’t sound like we’re changing vocal gender.
Good for affecting:
- vocal weight
- FVF constriction
- pitch range
- reducing strain
In general, we can just replace a pitch slide with a humming pitch slide.
For reducing vocal weight, we can start low and heavy then go up in pitch, letting the voice become lighter. This can let us train vocal weight without doing so obviously.
For adding vocal weight, we can start moderately low, slide down letting the voice get heavier to the lowest note we can do before going into fry / M0. At this point, we can ‘layer’ on more vocal weight by going up again without letting the voice become lighter and repeat the process. It’s important to not make the voice intentionally louder in this process, since we want vocal weight to naturally get heavier rather than going into pressed phonation.
Another approach is to hold a note for a while, making it less strained / effortful over time. This helps with both vocal weight and just generally reducing the tendency to strain at that pitch. We can do different pitches or scale up or down. We can also listen out for signs of constriction or breathiness. Both have a noisy quality that interrupts the light, hollow, ‘sinewave’ type sound. These feel completely different so it’s worth trying constricted and unconstricted humming to get a feel for the difference.
Good for affecting:
- larynx height / resonance
- speech patterns
- mouth space resonance
- should only be done for a few minutes a day
- should only be quiet and light, not constricted
- should be avoided if having FVF issues
This is great for speech patterns, mouth space and larynx height. It can be quite hard to change the gender of a whisper since it misses components like vocal weight, meaning we rely on other markers like speech patterns and different resonance components (i.e. mouth space) to gender the sound. It’s likely we’ll notice a huge difference in the sound of a normal voiced sound and a whisper, due to these factors.
Practically, we can just speak random words or read something, narrate what we’re doing in order to practice this, and try to intuitively modify the gender of the voice. Sometimes this will mean raising the larynx or making the mouth smaller.
It’s very important not to use this too much. Whispering engages the false folds slightly, and engages them more if we make the whisper louder. This is why it’s important to use a quiet, light, airy whisper. Be careful not to restrict airflow to make it quieter. Another issue is that it will dry out the vocal folds. It’s generally safe to whisper for a few minutes a day however, especially if we’re doing so quietly by retracting the false folds. However, it does show a lot of really important qualities, so it’s worth doing in small amounts.