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Unlock a Lighter, Thinner Speaking Voice with This Simple Trick

mindful voice feminization vocal weight voice feminization Jul 10, 2024
How to Get a Lighter Voice with One Weird Trick

Hey there, voice adventurers! Renée here, your friendly neighbourhood gender-affirming voice teacher. Today, we're looking at the quality of vocal weight and how to lighten that quality to create a speaking voice that's less buzzy and thick. And yes, it involves a quirky little trick: plugging one nostril. Intrigued? Let’s jump in!

What is Vocal Weight?

Vocal weight refers to the thickness or thinness of the sound your voice produces. Think of it like this: a heavier vocal weight sounds buzzier and thicker, while a lighter vocal weight is clearer and thinner. This quality is largely controlled by how much your vocal folds come together (adduction) or move apart (abduction).

  1. Adduction: When your vocal folds come together more, the sound is buzzier.
  2. Abduction: When they move apart more, the sound is breathier.

Vocal weight also depends on the physical thickness of your vocal folds. For instance, exposure to higher levels of testosterone can thicken the vocal folds, resulting in a buzzier sound. Similarly, lower pitches create mechanically thicker vocal folds, whereas higher pitches create thinner ones.

The Power of Pitch

If your vocal folds have been exposed to testosterone and you’re aiming for a thinner sound, raising your pitch a bit can help thin out the vocal folds. But today, we’re exploring an exercise that trains your vocal folds to adduct with just enough pressure to phonate gently.

Humming with One Nostril Closed

Introducing the semi-occluded vocal tract (SOVT) exercise, a fancy term for a simple but effective technique. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Close one nostril with your finger and start humming. This creates back pressure that helps your vocal folds phonate more gently.
  2. Experiment with different pitches and volumes to find a light, comfortable sound. (Remember, this exercise doesn’t instantly lighten your voice. It sets up conditions for easier, lighter phonation, so play around until you find your sweet spot.)
  3. While humming, gradually remove your finger from your nostril. This step-by-step approach changes the air pressure balance slowly, helping your vocal folds maintain light contact without sudden adduction.
  4. If you can keep that lightness, open your mouth slowly while continuing to hum. By easing into these steps, you prevent your vocal folds from slamming together. Instead, they stay lightly touching, even as you open up the vocal tract.
  5. Once you can keep that lightness on a single vowel at a low volume, slowly increase the volume and practice with short phrases.

Putting It All Together

Whew! That’s a lot of info, but I promise it’s worth it. These exercises help create a lighter, thinner vocal quality over time. If you’re hungry for more detailed guidance on this and other voice characteristics, check out my course, Mindful Voice Feminization.

Don’t forget to follow along for more trans voice content. Happy humming, and may your vocal journey be as light and bright as you desire!

Hi, I'm Renée! (they/them)

I'm a queer, nonbinary, and disabled singer, songwriter and gender-affirming voice teacher. 

I've been a voice teacher for over twelve years, I have four full-length albums out, and I have degrees in physics, jazz, and songwriting.

I love creating, I love figuring things out, but most of all, I love helping people.

Learn more about me

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