Vocal Fry in the Voice-Over Recording: Is It Really Bad?

You’ve heard it before, that creaky, sometimes gravelly sound that some people make at the end of their sentences. 

It’s called vocal fry, and it’s been the subject of much debate in recent years. 

Some people think it’s a sign of laziness or a lack of professionalism, while others argue that it’s just another vocal quirk, like an accent or a stutter.

We’ll break down vocal fry more in-depth, including a section where we talk about whether it’s a blessing or a curse in voice-over.

So, What Is Vocal Fry?

Let’s brush up on the basics first; what is vocal fry?

It’s a low, rumbling sound that occurs when the vocal cords vibrate irregularly at the end of a sentence. 

The most popular vocal fry examples, or the easiest way to describe it, would be the Kardashians. 

Some people use it to emphasize a point or to give their voice a distinctive quality. Others use it without even realizing it.

But why is vocal fry such a hot topic? 

For one thing, it’s become more common among young women in recent years, which has led some to associate it with a lack of confidence or assertiveness. 

Additionally, some studies have suggested that when it’s forced, the vocal fry can be damaging to the vocal cords, leading to long-term voice problems.

However, not everyone agrees with these concerns. Some experts argue that vocal fry is a natural part of speech and that it’s not harmful in moderation. 

The Origin of Vocal Fry

Now that we understand what is vocal fry, let’s move on to its origin.

The origins of vocal fry can be traced back to various languages and cultures throughout history. 

In English, vocal fry has been documented as far back as the 1940s, when it was described as a “creaky voice.” 

Some linguists believe that vocal fry has its roots in the natural human vocalization process. When speaking at a low pitch or volume, the vocal cords vibrate more slowly, which can lead to the production of a creaky sound. 

This creaky sound can be used for emphasis or to signal the end of a sentence.

Although commonly associated with females, vocal fry is also prevalent among males. Male rock vocalists such as Kurt Cobain and Mick Jagger are renowned for incorporating vocal fry into their singing. 

However, while the creaky voices of young women are often linked with superficiality and low intelligence, the husky tones of their male counterparts convey a sense of masculinity and authority.

The reason behind this difference may lie in the distinctive ways in which men and women use vocal fry. 

According to a study conducted by Centenary College of Louisiana, men who employed vocal fry utilized it about 25% of the time, while women only used it in 10% of their speech. 

Men used it consistently throughout their sentences, while women used it primarily toward the end.

Is Vocal Fry Really a Problem?

It’s hard to say for sure. 

In recent years, vocal fry has gained increased attention due to its use by celebrities and its association with younger generations. 

After hearing some vocal fry examples, some have argued that vocal fry is a reflection of changing speech patterns and a natural evolution of language. Others have criticized its use, claiming that it sounds irritating.

Ultimately, it’s up to each individual to decide whether or not to use vocal fry in their speech.

The Impact of Vocal Fry on Voice-over Recordings

In the voice-over industry, the use of vocal fry can be a contentious issue. 

About 38% of the message is conveyed through vocal elements related to tone, rate of speech, how loud you speak, and intonation. It means that vocal fry can definitely affect your voice-over project.

While some clients may prefer voice-over artists who use vocal fry for some reasons, others may find it unprofessional. 

It is important for voice-over artists to be aware of these differing opinions and to consider the impact of vocal fry on their performances.

When should voice fry be used in voice-over recording?

Voice fry can be used in voice-over recording when the intention is to show personality or create a specific mood or atmosphere.

It’s okay to use vocal fry in a voice-over recording when it is used intentionally and strategically to convey a particular emotion or message. 

For example, the vocal fry can be used to convey frustration or irritation or to add a sense of gravity or seriousness to a message. It can also be used to signal the end of a sentence or thought.

When should voice fry be avoided in voice-over recording?

Voice fry should be avoided in voice-over recording when it detracts from the clarity and articulation of the voice. 

For example, if the script requires the voice actor to convey a lot of technical or complex information, using too much voice fry can make it easier for the audience to understand what is being said. 

Voice fry should also be avoided when the intention is to create a friendly, conversational tone, as it can make the voice sound cold or distant.

What Should You Do If You Have Vocal Fry?

Here are some tips for voice-over artists to avoid overusing vocal fry and maintain clear and consistent speech in their recordings:

Warm up your voice

Before beginning a recording session, it is important to warm up your voice. This can help to prevent vocal fry and ensure that your speech is clear and consistent throughout the recording.

Practice proper breathing techniques

Proper breathing is essential for clear and consistent speech. Focus on taking deep breaths from your diaphragm rather than shallow breaths from your chest. 

This can help to support your voice and reduce the likelihood of vocal fry.

Pay attention to your posture

Your posture can have a significant impact on your voice. Make sure you are sitting or standing up straight, with your shoulders relaxed and your neck straight. 

This can help to prevent strain on your vocal cords and ensure that your voice is clear and consistent.

Avoid speaking in a monotone

Speaking in a monotone can make your voice sound dull and unengaging. Vary your pitch and tone to keep your speech interesting and engaging for listeners.

Use vocal fry sparingly

While vocal fry can be a useful tool for emphasis or to signal the end of a sentence, overusing it can be distracting and unprofessional. 

Use vocal fry sparingly and intentionally rather than as a default speech pattern.

Practice proper enunciation

Clear enunciation is essential for voice-over recordings. Make sure you are pronouncing words clearly and distinctly, and avoid mumbling or slurring your speech.

Does Your Project Need Vocal Fry Voiceover?

Regardless of whether or not vocal fry is used, it’s important for voice-over artists to maintain clear and consistent speech in their recordings. 

By using proper breathing techniques, paying attention to posture, and practicing enunciation, voice-over artists can deliver engaging and professional performances that meet the needs of their clients.

In the end, whether or not businesses use vocal fry in voice-over recordings is a matter of preference and context. 

What is most important is that voice-over artists have the skills and knowledge to deliver effective, engaging, and professional performances.