What’s all this fuss about vocal fry?

There’s been a recent spike in online commentary on vocal fry from both journalists and the general public. The commentary is dominated by protests from exasperated listeners begging to see the end of what they call the ‘vocal fry epidemic’. Though brief and by no means comprehensive, I hope this post will add to others’ efforts to provide some balance to the conversation.  Continue reading “What’s all this fuss about vocal fry?”

Voice quality through both lenses

3d-glassesI spend a great deal of time thinking about (and talking about – sorry friends!) voice quality – the component of speech that is determined not so much by what our mouths are doing, but by the configuration of our vocal folds and rate of air flowing from the lungs. (If you’re interested, the components of speech is something I’ve blogged about before.) But… what is voice quality, exactly?  Continue reading “Voice quality through both lenses”

Sculpting speech

Speech is a skill that virtually everyone masters but few pause to study in detail; it certainly isn’t necessary to understand how speech is created – on a conscious level – in order to talk. But there are plenty of reasons to study speech. Curiosity is reason enough!

A quick internet search reveals a great deal of information about speech production. I’m not about to say anything that’s not already been said. Rather, my motivation for this post is to offer an introductory explanation alongside an analogy. Continue reading “Sculpting speech”

What do Santa Claus, unicorns, and Standard Language have in common?

I can’t remember if it was morning or afternoon, but it was definitely one sunny day in December. And I can’t say which year it was either… maybe 1996? Give or take 3 years. In any case, I was a child. My mother and older sister had left the house to “visit Santa” – a phrase I now know to mean “shop for Christmas presents (AKA hard work)”, but at the time understood to mean “visit Santa (AKA the most exciting thing ever)”. My request to join them had been met with a blunt refusal, and so I sat, in a state of quiet despair, for what might have been the rest of the day.

I can’t remember at what moment – if it was indeed a single moment – I found out  (spoiler alert!) Continue reading “What do Santa Claus, unicorns, and Standard Language have in common?”

Looking back, moving forward

The first time I sat down to really think about my interest in voice was in 2014 when I was nominated for an AVA SEA: an Australian Voice Association1 Student Encouragement Award. Admittedly, an AVA SEA ain’t no Nobel Prize, but to an insecure undergraduate student it did offer a healthy dose of encouragement. No trophies were involved (disappointingly), though I did get some AVA-specific perks and a textbook of my choice. But actually, the best thing about it was the accompanying task – one that has been bestowed upon all AVA SEA winners prior and since – to write a short piece for the AVA newsletter on “what voice means to me”. I’m sure what I ended up writing was largely uninteresting to everyone else (and a little self-indulgent, appropriate considering the brief), but the act of sitting down to really nut out why and in what way voice interests me turned out to be a turning point in my life. Continue reading “Looking back, moving forward”