Vocal Fry: Trendy or Damaging?


Vocal fry is a term used to describe the low “creaky”, back focused voice quality that is produced with more tension and pressure than is modal voice ( a person’s average, comfortable speaking voice). With “normal” voice production at modal levels, vocal cords come together and open in a wave undulation via the power of breath support through our airway. When we speak in vocal fry, pressure is dropped and there is more tension in the voice so the wave motion is halted and the cords move in a more irregular/chaotic pattern.


Everyone uses vocal fry sometimes, especially at the end of sentences – when tired or trying to get a point across in a lecture or presentation. In the past few years, this register has been more popular with women aged 18-25. Some famous actresses and singers have been known to use this register to make their voice sound “cool”, or “sexy”. Researchers are still trying to determine what made this trend so popular and why so many young women have taken on this vocal habit.


The voice is best produced at its’ modal register (comfortable speaking/singing range). When we move it out of that range for a period of time (high into falsetto or low into fry), the vocal musculature can become strained and stressed as they work harder to achieve the vibratory cycle they are used to. This may not cause immediate damage to the cords themselves but is a vocal use problem that should be changed, or it may lead to damage down the road.


Linda Saarenvirta has been practicing for 11 years as a registered Speech-Language Pathologist at S. L. Hunter SpeechWorks. For the past 5 years, Linda has focussed in the area of vocal rehabilitation including the use of videostroboscopy as well as the Visi-Pitch program. She enjoys working with all clientele and believes strongly in the client centered approach that S.L. Hunter SpeechWorks provides.