How to Do a Vocal Fry

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  • How do I use a vocal fry in singing?
  • Can anyone do a vocal fry?
  • Can I use a vocal fry to warm up my voice?

Have you ever noticed that some singers have a strangely alluring scratch in the tone of their voice? This tone is known as a vocal fry, and it can add some enticing expression and dynamic to a singing or speaking voice. But can everyone do a vocal fry? And what are some of the best exercises to develop a vocal fry? We’ve laid out a brief guideline below to help you gain a better understanding of the vocal fry technique. We’ll also cover some basic care tips that anyone can use to maintain and develop their vocal fry in their own time. 

What Is a Vocal Fry?

Vocal fry is a singing or speaking technique that is produced by folding the vocal cords on top of each other while they are relaxed and loose. This mechanism is also known as laryngealization, strohbass, pulse phonation, or glottal scrape. 

A vocal fry takes much less air compression to create than regular singing and sits at the bottom of a person’s vocal register. Vocal fry is lower in pitch than the modal or chest register, and this region is often referred to as the pulse register. 

When air passes through the vocal cords at very low pressure, they fold on top of each other unevenly. Because the vocal cords are thick and barely closed, they generate a scratchy, irregular pitch known as vocal fry. 

Experienced vocalists have a firm grasp on how to integrate this technique into their performances and also know how to execute it on demand. It’s possible to use vocal fry for both singing and speaking performances. A lot of actors and voice-over artists also use vocal fry to add dynamism to their character.

How to Do a Vocal Fry

Learning how to do a simple vocal fry is surprisingly easy, and almost anyone should be able to produce the basic tone of a vocal fry regardless of their singing skill level. What’s important to remember is that the technique is produced by passing as little air over the vocal cords as possible, so remember to relax while you learn this technique.

  1. Begin with a simple hum with your regular chest or speaking voice. Imagine that you are saying the word ‘’umm’’ while trying to think. Sustain this tone in a relaxed fashion.
  2. Now repeat the same tone, but try to do it in your lowest possible vocal tone. 
  3. Slowly reduce the amount of air pressure coming through your vocal cord, and keep reducing the pitch. Your voice should produce a very low, gravelly tone. 
  4. Shift your humming sound to an ‘’ah’’ sound by slowly opening your mouth. You’ll notice that your throat even feels scratchy while you produce this tone. 
  5. You can develop this tone by introducing different vocals into the mechanism and then moving on to words and phrases. With enough practice, you’ll learn how to layer a vocal fry into certain areas of your singing or vocal performances. 

It should be mentioned that the exercise above is a standard warm-up exercise for singers and other vocalists before performing. Not only is it a safe way to loosen up your vocal cord, but it is also great for switching your mental link to your voice and body. 

Safety and Care Tips for Vocal Fry

  1. Always hydrate before singing or attempting any serious vocal exercises. The vocal fry is much easier to trigger when the vocal cords have been lubricated sufficiently.
  2. If you struggle to initially learn to do this technique naturally, try warming up your body with some alternative exercises (lip rolls, scales, vowels) before trying again. 
  3. Try to limit the amount of caffeine, alcohol, and heavy dairy you consume before singing. All of these substances will detract from the strength of your vocal fry. 
  4. Smoking also harms the strength and quality of your vocal tone and especially your vocal fry. Some singers assume that smoking adds to the scratch in their vocal fry. While this may be true, the scratch is not a healthy one and should be avoided. 
  5. Stop whenever you feel uncomfortable or strained while singing, especially when learning and developing your vocal fry. Overworking your voice will only lower your ability to create a strong vocal fry. 

Final Thoughts

The vocal fry was once considered a largely unappealing quality in someone’s voice. However, in recent times, it has become more widely accepted, and many people associate this tone with relaxation in a speaking voice. 

Vocal fry can also be an exceptionally powerful tool in a singer’s arsenal. Legendary singers like Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, and Britney Spears have all used vocal fry in some of their biggest hits. You can use the above-listed pointers as a simple guideline for learning and developing your vocal fry. With consistent practice, you’ll learn how to use the technique to add some extra zest and character to your vocal performances.

FAQ

  • Is vocal fry bad for your voice?

Vocal fry is generally produced with low amounts of compression on the vocal cords and is not traditionally unhealthy for our voice. However, improper technique can lead to vocal strain or injury, especially with loud and consistent singing. 

  • Do people naturally have a vocal fry?

While it is not common, some people do have a natural vocal fry in their voice, especially when speaking or singing in a relaxed state. Some people may also adopt this habit from learning it from others at a young age. 

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