You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Health Answers

What is ‘vocal fry,’ and is it harmful to your voice?

Q. What is “vocal fry,” and is it harmful to your voice?

A. Vocal fry is a type of vocalization characterized by a low, creaky voice. Ramon Franco, director of laryngology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, explains that when you speak, air pushing upward from your lungs causes the vocal folds — two folds of tissue on either side of the voice box — to draw together and quickly slap back and forth. This vibrational movement produces a particular note. When you drop the pressure and tension in your voice, he says, “the vocal folds will stop this automatic flapping back and forth and they’ll go into a more chaotic rhythm.” The result is a creaky sound with no particular note.

Continue reading below

“We all use vocal fry,” Franco says. Your voice may creak at the end of a sentence or when you’re tired. Radio and TV broadcasters are often trained to eliminate vocal fry, he says, but in other contexts it is very common. “It’s not unusual to hear a lot of fry during lectures,” he says, where professors use a low gravelly voice to convey gravitas. Recently, several speech researchers have noted a trend of frequent vocal fry among young women, exemplified by celebrities like Katy Perry, Zooey Deschanel, and Kim Kardashian.

Vocal fry is not a health concern, Franco says, except with overuse (for instance, shouting in a loud venue while using vocal fry). Anything that causes the vocal folds to slap together with too much force, he says, can lead to injury.

Have a question? E-mail globeanswers@gmail.com.
Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.