What are Open Quotients?
To understand how open and closed quotients affect trans vocalists, it is first helpful to understand pitch. While singing and speaking the vocal folds will rapidly vibrate open and closed, producing pitch. Open and closed quotients refer to the amount of time the vocal folds are either open or closed during this process.
Pitch is our perception of how high or low the voice sounds. When the vocal folds vibrate quickly, we will hear the pitch as “higher,” and when they vibrate slowly we will hear the pitch as “lower.” This is important to understand in trans voice training because vocal folds exposed to testosterone will thicken and therefore vibrate slower, producing a lower and more masculine sounding pitch. Through pitch training for mtf students, it is possible to achieve Voice feminization by teaching the vocal folds to sustain a faster vibration.
The training of quotients is also a useful factor for both mtf and ftm trans students. The open quotient is the percentage of time that the vocal folds are open — with air flowing through. The closed quotient is the percentage of time that the vocal folds are closed — with no air flowing through. When the open quotient dominates, the voice will sound more “open” and will capture more of the softness and agility associated with the female voice. When the closed quotient dominates, the voice will sound more pressed and firm, and will be perceived as more masculine. With vocal training, it is possible to adjust the balance of quotients, and thereby alter the perceived gender of the voice.
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