The Other McCain

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Is ‘Vocal Fry’ Stupider Than AutoTune?

Posted on | December 10, 2011 | 10 Comments

by Smitty

Via Slashdot, there is some nonsense social research into ‘vocal fry’:

Vocal fry, or glottalization, is a low, staccato vibration during speech, produced by a slow fluttering of the vocal chords (listen here). Since the 1960s, vocal fry has been recognized as the lowest of the three vocal registers, which also include falsetto and modal—the usual speaking register. Speakers creak differently according to their gender, although whether it is more common in males or females varies among languages. In American English, anecdotal reports suggest that the behavior is much more common in women. (In British English, the pattern is the opposite.) Historically, continual use of vocal fry was classified as part of a voice disorder that was believed to lead to vocal chord damage. However, in recent years, researchers have noted occasional use of the creak in speakers with normal voice quality.

In the new study, scientists at Long Island University (LIU) in Brookville, New York, investigated the prevalence of vocal fry in college-age women. The team recorded sentences read by 34 female speakers. Two speech-language pathologists trained to identify voice disorders evaluated the speech samples. They marked the presence or absence of vocal fry by listening to each speaker’s pitch and two qualities called jitter and shimmer—variation in pitch and volume, respectively.

You know who’s doing a lot of vocal fry these days? The Worlds Youngest Blogger. Because he’s 4.5 months old, and has not figured out how to operate his vocal chords. Also, he hasn’t learned English.

I, for one, fear that vocal fry contributes to anthopogenic global warming, and should therefore be made a federal crime, along with everything else.


10 Responses to “Is ‘Vocal Fry’ Stupider Than AutoTune?”

  1. Mal
    December 10th, 2011 @ 10:27 am

    Kenny Rogers made a career out of the vocal fry.

  2. Adjoran
    December 10th, 2011 @ 3:50 pm

    The research only sounds stupid to you because you aren’t the one getting the federal grant to study it.

  3. K-Bob
    December 10th, 2011 @ 4:21 pm

    They forgot the “whistle” register (used a lot by David Lee Roth and first used artistically on a gold record by the late Minnie Riperton in “Lovin’ You”).

    They need to check out the Tuvan throat singers.  Those guys mastered the art of controlling the fry register so they can hold long notes with it while using the overtones generated as a melody line.

  4. K-Bob
    December 10th, 2011 @ 4:22 pm

    It’s  a staple in country music.

  5. smitty
    December 10th, 2011 @ 8:56 pm

    The theory that country music has a staple in its throat explains much.

  6. K-Bob
    December 11th, 2011 @ 12:24 am

    Oddly enough, they have less cowbell.

  7. Bob Belvedere
    December 12th, 2011 @ 9:24 am

    How about the condition known as ‘Vocal Fried’ as in ‘Shoot to thrill / Too many women / Too many pills’?

  8. William Morton
    December 12th, 2011 @ 9:51 pm

    Nobody can reproduce Phyllys Diller.
    But more seriously, what can stop the incessant “dental floss S” that some young women speak?

  9. Sarah W
    December 12th, 2011 @ 9:52 pm

    I don’t do that I don’t think – except as a substitute for swearing.

  10. RWD
    December 12th, 2011 @ 11:51 pm

    And here I thought they were just constipated.