How Does Vocal Fry Work?

How Does Vocal Fry Work?

Ugh, the bananas got everywhere. I just know
the catapult place is gonna hit me with a cleaning fee. Oh, hello BrainStuff! I’m Lauren, and today
we’re going to talk about the human voice – specifically, vocal fry — the vocal register
that launched a thousand panicky trend pieces. You’ve heard it in conversation, you’ve
heard people complain about it, and you very likely use at least a little bit of it yourself.
But how does it actually work? What’s happening inside your throat when you fry? To explain this, we first need to consider
how we humans make sound with our voices. So, imagine you’re saying something normal,
like, “Let go of my pizza, Ted, or prepare to feel the hot iron of vengeance.” When you begin to speak — or sing, chant,
or babble — you relax your diaphragm to push air from your lungs up through your larynx
and out of your mouth. And on the way up, that air passes between
your vocal folds, also known as your vocal cords. The vocal folds are two strips of membranous
tissue that you can manipulate in a few ways to control the pitch and quality of your voice: If you move your vocal folds together as the
air from your lungs passes up through the slit between them (known as the glottis, by
the way), it causes the folds to vibrate, like the reed in a clarinet or a saxophone.
This vibration then resonates through the air in the cavities of your head to produce
the fundamental sound of your voice. Now, human beings have three main vocal registers:
falsetto, modal, and fry. The modal register is most commonly used in
normal speaking voices, and it’s what I’m using now. The falsetto register is the highest frequency
register, and you’ve probably heard people use it when they talk to babies and pets,
oooh, yes you have! When you go into the falsetto register, you
pull your vocal folds tight, allowing only the edges to vibrate, rather than the entire
folds. The lowest vocal register is the fry vocal
register. You might have also heard people call it “creaky voice.” What we would see during the use of vocal
fry is that the vocal cords are pressed together but not stretched longitudinally, which creates
a loosely closed glottis gap. Breath “bubbles” out between the slackened folds, creating
pulses as the vocal cords “rattle” against each other. You can see the same kind of chaotic rattling
happen with a guitar string if you tune your instrument low enough! In recent years, vocal fry has been a huge
subject of debate. Is it super annoying? Or is it super annoying when people criticize
it? If you want to learn more about all that,
you can check out my compatriot Cristen Conger’s excellent Stuff Mom Never Told You video on
the subject, by clicking here. In which I have a cameo. But in short, vocal fry is nothing to panic
about, culturally speaking. Studies show that it’s a fairly common feature of human speech
across demographics, used most often right at the end of sentences or phrases. So, do you use vocal fry? Have you been criticized
for it? Let us know in the comments! If you’d like to learn more about vocal fry, remember
to check out these excellent episodes of Stuff Mom Never Told You. And you can learn more
about the human body (and the vibrations it makes) over at!

94 thoughts on “How Does Vocal Fry Work?”

  1. I hate learning about bodily functions as it makes me not want to exist. Watching videos like this feeds some sort of weird morbid curiosity, but now I don't want to talk as I know I'll be vibrating my vocal chords and it just looks as if I'll rip them somehow. Even though I've talked all my life. I'll be over this in a few hours, probably.

  2. This is what happens when people don't give a shit about the big stuff happening in the world. They start looking for some insignificant trivial thing to make an issue out of… Seriously? Have you nothing better or more important to complain about?

  3. p.s. If you're in here thinking all, "BLAH BLAH BIOLOGY, whatever, where can I purchase a copy of that sweet t-shirt??", then you're in luck, Internet friend: /Lauren

  4. I think it's interesting that nobody addresses stress, thyroid function, genetics, or other physiological factors that might be playing a role. Sure, some people are just annoying, but some people (Katy Perry comes to mind) sound like they are physically incapable of producing quality notes below a certain frequency. While others (Lana Parrilla comes to mind) produce that rich, sexy baritone with no effort at all.

  5. Honestly i forget all about it except when people who use it get all defensive about using it. Use it and I wont care or probably even notice it.

  6. I don't quite understand why this is an issue, but everyone has a different reaction to one stimulus, so I guess that's the reason for the debate.

    Thanks for revealing something that I never would've imagine would be a thing

  7. I have a degree in this stuff, and your description was very accurate in my opinion. It should be noted that excessive use of vocal fry, such as using it in place of your modal tone, is inadvised because it can cause damage and lead to things like vocal nodules. Everything in moderation, people!

    (And to the people who commented- yes, the vocal folds do look kind of like a vagina. We did a lot of giggling in our anatomy classes.)

  8. You could have made a much shorter version of this video.
    question: What causes vocal fry?
    answer: being an arrogant yet very insecure little twit that needs to blindly follow trends no matter how much they make you sound like a person that should be avoided at all costs.

  9. I was made fun of from the 4th to 6th grade about this mostly. Everyone said I sounded like a robot. I just had a deep voice early.

  10. Im in speech pathology classes right now and we just covered the topic of glottal/vocal fry, it IS damaging to the vocal folds if it becomes habitual. Over time it can cause a serious vocal fold disorder. if you catch yourself dropping down into glottal fry catch yourself and go back up to the modal register!

  11. What you're calling falsetto is the head voice. In falsetto the vocal cords stay more disconnected and it sounds more breathy and smooth.–KCZc8g

  12. It is just a modern version of the "Valley Girl" method of speech and, like VG, if FEKKIN' annoying! It's done by pretentious wanna-be's who want to sound all hip and happening but in the end just end up being annoying.

  13. This happens to me when my gerd kicks in. Ugh!
    But yeah, its annoying. Check out the geeky girl on masterchef who talks like this, regularly. It makes me think she's in pain. Lol!

  14. Millennials, (female almost exclusively) on NPR and other radio shows, speaking through their throats & noses instead of from the diaphragm, repetitive rising and lowering intonation at end of sentences, FRY / CREAK & trying to sound sophisticated or knowledgeable when they're reporting something they know little about = NEO VALLEY GIRL, rully. Rully! Beyond annoying. Rully.

  15. I got annoyed by it when debating the meaning of deepness in a voice.

    Confusing to have people sound deeper when they do that or not.

  16. I was annoyed and disgusted by vocal fry long before I knew it by that name. Back in the day, we called it "raspy." Like the sound a rasp makes. Yucko! I thought it was women trying to sound like men on the downward inflections. I have not been convinced otherwise.

  17. I grew up in New England and have a fairly flat, north-eastern accent. Occassionally I drop an R or shorten my Os, but for the most part I wouldn't consider my accent distinct to the typical Bostonian, Jersey, RI, or NY accent… The thing is isthat the vocal fry has been used for years and evolved around the 50s-60s with the valley girl accent. I've heard it for years and honestly most people fry their voice when they're tired or complaining — I've never heard it used in any other context but to express some form of malcontent.

  18. Vocalogical, a singing tips podcast, is actually in the middle of finishing a vocal fry series! Exercises, studies, and how it can help your singing voice are a few of the topics that are discussed. Thanks for the video and information!

  19. Fucking Gwen Stefanny Face does this in her Revlon youth FX YT advert and it fucking kills me 😟😕🙁☹️😣😖😫😩😤😠😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡

  20. This was a useful and informative video. So, thanks for that. However, aside from people's perceptions of and reactions to vocal fry (in others, naturally, because why would I ever object to my own, right?), I had heard that it was also potentially damaging to the long-term voice health of those who engage in it.

    I'll be honest: when I hear it over-used (which is an entirely subjective measure, of course) it annoys me for reasons that I can't fully explain. (Part of that objection is an acknowledged part of my upbringing: my father pointed it out to me in television announcers decades and decades ago – and in male announcers, especially – so I've been attuned to it for most of my life, though only recently had a name for it.) So I admit my own aversion to the sound when over-used, and that's in the open. But if there are also issues about it that affect the health of the speaker's vocal cords, then it would also be useful to know that … and to have that as an additional reason to encourage people to STOP DOING THAT SO MUCH just aside from the simple reason that I don't like it.

  21. I can’t watch vids where the host leans on vocal fry to end all sentences. It’s beyond me to even tolerate it for a minute. I’ve unsubscribed when a new host comes in who constantly does it. And yes, I’ve let them know too.

  22. It's not so much that vocal fry itself is annoying. Rather that people who frequently vocal fry have been commonly observed to be annoying.

  23. Your video is really well done. Very informative. I've just started to notice this phenomena and didn't know it was an actual thing. (I do find it extremely annoying in most cases.)

  24. Some people say that vocal fry hurts but others say the opposite. I use it to warm up my voice and to sing too. So I am really concerned about its impact on my voice. Thanks

  25. Never realized this was a thing until people started mentioning it. Yes I speak with it. I have bigger things to worry about than someone not liking the way I talk 🤷🏻‍♀️

  26. My natural voice is extremely raspy & gravely & I can't help but fry on a lot of words. It sucks because no matter how I alter my voice, I sound like a "valley girl."

  27. Yes it's annoying. I think it makes people sound haughty or not interested in a conversation. It's become more popular in the last few years among younger people, at least what I observe. I feel like it's the language trend. I wish people would use their normal voice.

  28. I only have a vocal fry usually when I am sick,have allergies, or trying to show I am uncomfortable. Other than that I feel the only person who can pull it off is Morgan Freeman

  29. Is vocal fry only used in English? I've yet to hear anyone use it in, like, let's say Mandarin, or Italian, or German, or Vietnamese…. French? Nah…

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