Tools of Translation


Vocal Fry


Vocal fry occurs when the vocal (arytenoid) cartilages squeeze together very tightly.  This allows the vocal cords themselves to be loose and floppy.  When air passes between them, they can vibrate irregularly, popping and rattling. We used to believe that vocal fry suggested a voice problem.  However, after years of seeing young women with this pattern in their speaking voice, and seeing relatively normal looking vocal cords, I have begun to question this.  While undoubtedly this is not “normal” speech and will result in damage, it is increasingly accepted in music and speech in the teenage and 20-something set.  It does not always indicate a vocal cord problem exists; rather it is a usage problem.


The vocal fry register (also known as pulse register, laryngealisation, pulse phonation, creak, popcorning, glottal fry, glottal rattle, glottal scrape, or strohbass) is the lowest vocal register and is produced through a loose glottal closure which will permit air to bubble through slowly with a popping or rattling sound of a very low frequency. During this phonation, the arytenoid cartilages in the larynx are drawn together which causes the vocal folds to compress rather tightly and become relatively slack and compact.


In speech, a low, scratchy sound that occupies the vocal range below modal voice (the most commonly used vocal register in speech and singing). Also known as vocal fry register, creaky voice, pulse register, laryngealization, and glottal fry. (See Examples and Observations, below.)

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