In today’s blog we are going to discuss vocal feminization. Before we jump in, go ahead and click the link below to hear some voice feminization with befores and afters from Seattle Voice Lab clients.
In the beginning, vocal feminization may feel like an insurmountable goal. Perhaps you’ve tried feminization before, but you came up against a tough roadblock. Or, perhaps it feels difficult just to take the first step. Well, if you’re reading this right now, then you are already bravely walking towards your goal. So take a moment to acknowledge that! And now, let’s get into the fun stuff!
Exploring a more feminine tone
Trans voice training for vocal feminization is all about tone (also commonly referred to as timbre or resonance). The tone of a voice is made up of different vocal frequencies. These frequencies are created by the body when we speak or sing, and they have the ability to increase or decrease in presence. All of our vocal frequencies come together to form a general impression, which we call: tone. The average fundamental frequency of adult males is 120 Hz, while the average fundamental frequency of adult females is about double, 220 Hz.1 For vocal feminization, we will strive to raise our average fundamental frequency, thereby creating a vocal tone that is more feminine.
To better understand how frequencies create tone, I want you to visualize your voice as an orb of light, full of different colors. Imagine that as you speak and sing this orb appears in front of your body. The orb has three possible colors: red, orange, and blue. The colors are created by the frequencies of the voice. The lowest frequencies are red, the middle frequencies are orange, and the highest frequencies are blue. When the voice is in a more masculine tone, the orb will be red (lowest frequencies) and orange (medium frequencies). As we start moving towards a more feminine tone, the red (lowest) will diminish, and the orb will be mostly orange (medium) and a little bit blue (highest). The average fundamental frequency has now been raised. As we move further towards feminization, the red (lowest) will disappear, the orange (medium) will diminish, and the blue (highest) will grow in presence. The average fundamental frequency has now been raised even higher. So, to wrap this idea up: tone is created by frequencies. If you alter the frequencies that are present, you alter your tone!
Now that we’ve visualized tone, let’s take the next step and start making some sounds. We will be listening to the tone, and we will also be feeling the tone inside
the body. If possible, record yourself doing this exercise. It will greatly enhance your ability to recognize tonal shifts.
1) Experiencing a more masculine tone:
- A) We’llstartbymakingthetonewedon’twant,thiswillhelpustofeelcontrast as we move into feminization in the next step. Sit down in front of a mirror so you can see your mouth clearly. If you don’t have a mirror, you can use the photo setting on a phone or computer. Take a gentle breath through your mouth and slowly speak “Hi” in a low part of your voice. As you do, drop your jaw low.
- B) Repeat,andlistentohowyourvoicesounds.Don’tforgettodropthejaw!
- C) Repeat, and notice how your voice feels. Do you feel a sensation in your throat? Do you feel a gentle vibration on your sternum?
Reflection: We have just experienced a more masculine tone. Most likely your voice sounded low and full. In addition, you may have felt vibrations on your sternum bone and in the back of your throat. Imagine your voice orb: right now it is colored red (lowest) and orange (medium).
2) Moving towards a more feminine tone:
- A) Lookinthemirror,anddoabrightsmile.Now,holdthesmileandslowly speak “Lee” in a high part of your voice. As you do, don’t allow your jaw to drop any lower. Hold the smile!
- B) Repeat,listentohowyourvoicesounds.
- C) Repeat, notice how your voice feels. Do you feel any vibrations inside your mouth? Perhaps in the sinus?
Reflection: We have just experienced a more feminine tone. Did you hear that your voice was brighter, lighter, and smaller? You may also have noticed some gentle vibrations inside your mouth and sinus. Notice that these vibrations were different from what we felt in Step 1. If you imagine your tone orb: the red (lowest) has diminished, the orange (medium) is present, and the blue (highest) has arrived.
3) Alternating between tones: Now, let’s go back and forth between these two tones.
A) Step1(moremasculine):Takeagentlebreaththroughyourmouthand slowly speak “Hi” in a low part of your voice. As you do, drop your jaw low.
- B) Step2(morefeminine):Holdabrightsmileandslowlyspeak“Lee”inahigh part of your voice. As you do, don’t allow your jaw to drop any lower. Hold the smile.
- C) Alternate Step 1, Step 2, Step 1, Step 2. Take your time and go slowly. Don’t forget to take a gentle breath between each step.
- D) Listen to the change in tone, feel the change in tone.
Achieving voice feminization means we have successfully transformed our tone by diminishing low frequencies, increasing high frequencies, and, that we are able to maintain this tone. This is called tonal consistency, and it means that we keep everything in a consistently feminine tone. To better understand this, let’s try another exercise. Get expert help with MTF voice training by our experts.
3) Practicing a more feminine tonal consistency:
- A) Holdabrightsmileandslowlyspeak“Lee”inahighpartofyourvoice.As you do, don’t allow your jaw to drop any lower. Hold the smile.
- B) Now,breathe,smileandslowlyspeak“Leaveit”inahighpartofyourvoice. Don’t allow your jaw to drop any lower, hold the smile throughout both words.
- C) Repeat “leave it” a few times. Our goal is to keep both of these syllables in the same tone. We do this by maintaining our smile position, and keeping both syllables in a high part of the voice.
- D) Now, breathe, smile, and slowly speak “Leave it here” in a high part of your voice. Don’t allow your jaw to drop any lower, hold the smile. Try your best to keep your mouth position the same on all three syllables, and keep your voice high throughout.
Reflection: Listen back and reflect on your progress. Did you get all three syllables to stay in the same tone? If not, which syllable changed? Do the exercise again and give that syllable some extra attention. Remember to take your time and stay relaxed.