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“Words spoken with malfunction are like brain teasers, thrown unintentionally at an audience who must decipher them later; not the true meaning of what you said, but the mumble jumble that came out. However, words that flow straight out of the mouth like a fresh spring originating from a hilltop will make many stop and take notice. Such is the bewitching power of words that if spoken with clarity and much conviction penetrate deep into the conscience and affect us in the most extra ordinary of ways.” (source: www.speedupcareer.com)

July, the 7th month, the 7th step, and…
…the seven-strategy solution to mumble jumble speech.

What’s more feminine to you—looking elegant and lovely or having mellifluous words flowing sweetly from your soul?

The essence of your feminine soul may be expressed in your manner, your voice and your words.

This month we will explore the element of articulation and you’ll be encouraged to make use of these seven strategies.

Strategy One:  Feel the air flowing through on every single sound.

You are already aware of that your voice is an aerodynamic system (see Step 2 Breathing, that the airstream drives the oscillation of the vocal folds.  This concept, and being mindful of sensing the flow of air across your tongue, through your teeth and between your lips creates a power set of codes (like software codes) that anchors both the respiratory mechanics and articulation techniques.

Strategy Two: Talk as if you’re speaking to a hearing-impaired person – move your mouth more.

Imagine that you want someone to read your lips as you speak. This simple strategy encourages you to engage and connect with the consonants in each word you speak.

Strategy Three:  Talk so your listener can hear each initial consonant sound.

Have you ever considered how speech sounds can be categorized?  Linguists have a fantastic system, but for most of you, simple will be better.  Consider a simple binary categorization of stretched consonants–that take longer (in time) when spoken, versus quick consonants–which are produced quickly.

  • Stretched consonants: f; v; th; s; z; r; l; w; m; n; ng; h; sh
  • Quick consonants:  p/b; t/d; k/g; ch; j

As you speak, notice the initial consonant sounds; feel the difference between the stretched consonants and the quick consonants.

Strategy Four:  Speak so your listener can hear each ending consonant sound.

Word boundaries are an essential element in any language.  As an adult, have you tried learning a foreign language?  I’m in the early stages of trying to pick up a little French (for a trip we have coming up).  I can hear individual words, but when strung together in a phrase or sentence I lose the word boundaries and it all sounds “Greek to me.”

This strategy (similar to the one above) is asking you to just focus on the ending consonants when you speak.  Be aware of word boundaries and enunciate the ending consonants more clearly than usual.

Strategy Five:  Speak so you can feel the tip of your tongue as you talk.

There are consonants that are only produced with the tip of your tongue.  Can you guess which ones they are? By focusing your attention on these tongue-tip consonants you are likely to produce them more clearly.

Strategy Six:  Speak so you can feel your lips move when you talk.

There are also consonants that are only produced with the lips.  Again, can you guess which ones? Bilabial consonants (the few of them that there are) are very frequently occurring sounds (English).  Notice how often your lips come completely together when you say words that contain bilabial consonants.

Strategy Seven: As you speak, feel the flow of one sound to the next.  Speak each consonant clearly, not forcibly.

Flowing, blending and gliding through a phrase are wonderful things to hear.  As you become aware (metacognitive) of speaking each consonant more clearly, it will probably cause you speak in a more halting or staccato manner.  It’s maybe like patting your head and rubbing your belly–hard to do both at first with smooth, fluid movement.

BONUS:  For You Wonderful Word Women

Aren’t words wonderful?  What are some of your favorite words?  Are they favorites because of their meanings?  Their sounds?  The flowing way they glide through your mouth?

Here’s my list of (a few) marvelous mellifluous words.  I like them because they feel delicious to say.

  • Hoi palloi
  • Parable
  • Cacophony
  • Palindrome
  • Panache
  • Vanilla
  • Cinnamon
  • Chicory
  • Serpentine
  • Marmalade
  • Bougainvillea
  • Amaranthine
  • Mellifluous
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Sorbet
  • Velvet

Homework: practice the seven-strategy solution with these (or your own) words.  Practice is necessary for you to acquire the motor memory of speaking clearly so you can apply it to your everyday speech.


Step 7:  Articulation

For the month of July, your goal is to play with these seven strategies. Spent some time each day working with this word list (or your own). I’d LOVE to know how you’re doing with Step 7. I’dxs love to hear some of your marvelous mellifluous words.  Stay in touch over the month.

Keeping you and your voice close to my heart,

Kathe

Denver, Colorado

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Step 11 November Fluency

 Fluency – Marvelously Mellifluous You!

When you speak, whose voice do you hear? Whose voice do others hear?

Our voices are so closely tied to the essence of who we truly are. Heart and soul and voice are one! In fact, here’s a curious little phonation fact; The left vocal cord nerve dips down into the chest, loops around the aorta, then courses back upward into the larynx. So, literally, our voices are connected to our hearts!

Fluency is the last of the “Nine Elements of an Exceptional Feminine Voice.” Let’s take a few moments and recap just what these are. You know more than anyone how difficult it is to change your voice; that’s why having a tried-and-true system makes all the difference.

 

The Nine Elements of an Exceptional Feminine Voice

  1. Pitch: The speaking pitch of the average adult male is 100-150 Hz; the speaking pitch of the average adult female is 200-250 Hz. I’ve provided many tips and strategies in other posts and YouTube tutorials to help you with this element.
  2. Voice Quality: The quality of the voice–whether it’s raspy, breathy, strained or weak–can provide insights to our physical health, moods and mental focus. Many transgender women produce a very feminine voice in order to sound feminine, but that’s not really an effective strategies.
  3. Loudness: The loudness of a voice isn’t inherently feminine or masculine. But there does seem to a shift toward a more feminine sound when the power is turned down a few notches.
  4. Resonance: The reverberation of sound in a medium, i.e., the throat, mouth or nose, shapes the tone into your own unique voice. Transitioning your voice requires significant re-programming of the small muscles of the throat and mouth to bring your vocal tone into a clear feminine ring.
  5. Articulation: There are some subtle, but important differences in the way men and women speak. Clear, crisp consonants add femininity to your expression.
  6. Phrasing: Studies suggest that women tend to speak in longer phrases than men. Try adding more descriptive adjectives to your expression.
  7. Pacing (tempo): While women tend to speak more quickly than men, it isn’t necessary to speed up your pace to sound more feminine.
  8. Melodic Intonation: The pitch variability of gliding up and down is a much greater range in women. Place more emphasis on certain syllables in a phrase.
  9. Fluency: “Smoothly flowing like golden honey” is the way I think of how a very feminine woman might speak. Speak mellifluously! Dance with your words!Fluency refers to the smooth vs choppy way you might speak. In musical terms, fluency is similar to rhythm. Rhythms may consist of a sense of easy flow (legato), which mean that notes are blended or connected. Staccato rhythms are halting or sharp.Listen to this short Bela Bartok piano piece. Pay close attention to the fluency, or connection of notes. Notice the abruptness of some of the notes compared to the flow of others.

Fluency refers to the smooth vs choppy way you might speak. In musical terms, fluency is similar to rhythm. Rhythms may consist of a sense of easy flow (legato), which mean that notes are blended or connected. Staccato rhythms are halting or sharp.

Step 11 Mellifluous

 

Listen to this short Bela Bartok piano piece. Pay close attention to the fluency, or connection of notes. Notice the abruptness of some of the notes compared to the flow of others.

Staccato = abrupt

Legato = smoothly flowing

 

Can you discern the legato vs staccato rhythm? In my (and others) observations of speakers, I hear men speak in a choppy, halting manner, whereas women speak in a smooth, flowing manner. Although women often speak quite rapidly, we do speak fluently.

ANGELINA JOLIE – *ELLEN -TAKING LIVES*PART 1 by screamingangie

Angelina Jolie is one of the most elegant and feminine women in the world (in my opinion). I love her voice and the smoothly flowing way her movements match the fluency of her voice. Notice the contrast to Ellen Degeneres, who has a more staccato style of speaking.

So, what is fluency exactly and why is it important for you as a transgender woman? It’s one of the elements that will complete you.

 

Three Tips to Feminine Fluency

Dance with Words

I was working on fluency with a client the other day, and out of the blue she said, “It sounds like we’re dancing with words.”

Dance with these words. Find the flow. Experience the melody. Absorb their essence.

  • The rushing stream washed the soil along with it.
  • The sun sank slowly and was followed by darkness and a foggy chill.
  • There is another alphabet, whispering from every leaf, singing from every river, shimmering from every sky.

Connecting Consonants

Those of you reading this, who know my method well, understand that one of the major practice strategies I employ is proprioception–being aware of the physical sensation/feelings of your speech and voice when you speak. Speech sounds can be categorized in several ways. For this exercise, let’s look at those consonants that we might call “stretched” consonants. Their properties allow them to stretch as you produce them, they include–s, z, sh, h, l, m, n, ng, etc. Conversely, can you think which consonants might be classified as “quick”?

Here’s a practice exercise: Cue yourself to notice the stretched consonants in these words. Then try using each word in a sentence and notice proprioceptively (the sensation of the sounds) the feeling of the stretched consonants.

  • Susurration
  • Feather
  • Eschew
  • Soliloquy
  • Syrup
  • Exquisite
  • Halcyon
  • Euphoria
  • Serendipity
  • Sonoluminescence

Elegant Elongations

Just as there are quick and streteched consonants, there are “short” and “long” vowels. Think back to your primary education; can you come up with three “short” vowels? How about three “long” vowels?  In nearly all of the training routines that I provide in my voice training programs, we vocalize using these three syllables, “hee,” “haa,” and “hoo.” Each of these is a “long” vowel, which by definition, means the vowel duration and voice onset time are longer (in time) than “short” vowels, like the /I/ in the word “hit.”

Now, as an exercise: Cue yourself to stretch the “long” vowels in these words more than you normally would the consonants in these words. Then try using each word in a sentence and notice proprioceptively how the vowels feel in your mouth.

  • Steep
  • Steel
  • Squeeze
  • Speech
  • Seen
  • Fleet
  • Seem
  • Sweet
  • Teem
  • Tree
  • Weed
  • Wheel
  • Wheeze
  • Freeze
  • Seethe

 

Step 10: Fluency

Bring your feminine voice into her glory. Dance with your words! Taste the sounds! Stay in touch.  I’d LOVE to know how you’re doing with Step 11.

 

Keeping you and your voice close to my heart,

Blue HeartKathe

Denver, Colorado

 

EVI-NEW-logo-very-smail

September:  the harvest moon, crisp autumn nights, thoughts of sweaters and home-cooked soups.

As was mentioned last month, the naturalizing elements–phrasing, pacing, melodic intonation and fluency–when used together, help you create an authentic feminine voice…something we all want, right?

September is Step 9–Pacing.  Think of all the things you do that you have a pace for:  walking, biking, jogging, driving, and speaking.  We establish our pace for these activities based largely on our own internal sense of tempo.

Music theory helps us understand pacing a bit more.

Let’s consider beat.  In its simplest definition, beat is tempo, pace, or the time it takes to play a piece. In Western music, beat is often demarcated by a metronome, a device that produces a steady pulse at the rate of x beats per minute (bpm).  A metronome marking of 60 would have 60 pulses (or beats) per minute, or one per second, while a marking of 120 would have 120 pulses per minute, or two per second.

Rhythm can be confused with beat, because sometimes the beat is also the rhythm. For instance, in a piece with a 4/4 time signature, a section of only quarter notes would be both the beat and the rhythm. However, while beat must be constant, rhythm is, by definition, variable. Rhythm is the length and accent given to a series of notes in a piece. In most Western music, rhythm and pitch go hand in hand to create a melody. The rhythm determines the length of the notes and the pitch, whether they go up or down. A noted exception is a chant (like an auctioneer’s chant, see the videos below), in which the singer concentrates solely on the pitch and allows the lyrics to move the melody along without rhythm. Beside the length of notes, rhythm is also created when some notes are emphasized over others.

Read more.

For you non-musical folks, don’t let the technical discussion above overwhelm you.  We keep the concept of pacing, or tempo/rhythm quite simple when training voices.  In fact, pacing is fundamentally a training tool rather than a goal.  There is no ideal tempo that you need to establish. Many people assume that women tend to speak more quickly than men, but this notion has been difficult to substantiate. See SEX AND SPEAKING RATE (August 2006) http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003423.html

Thinking that you must speak more quickly isn’t at all necessary!

The way that pacing becomes useful in your training is to help you set a pace so that you more effectively “code” the other training elements (posture, breathing, pitch, resonance, etc.).  Practicing at too quick at tempo will impede your progresss.  And conversely, practicing words and phrasing too slowly tends to have a  negative impact on resonance and melodic intonation.

Practicing your words and phrases at “just right” pace will greatly enhance your training.

We use a metronome in VFT (voice feminization therapy), but we don’t get too picky about accuracy.  Unlike music, our speaking pace (and thus, beats) has a lot of wiggle-room.  It’s not about counting beats or understanding time signatures on a musical staff; it’s about developing an internal sense of tempo.

Listen to these two tempos:

72 bpm

This is a relatively slow beat.  Try to sense this rhythm; feel it move with it.   Use a thought experiment (like we talked about in June Step 6 Resonance) and is something to consider when practicing.

120 bpm

This is a much faster tempo.   It’s too fast, in fact to speak with good breath, pitch, articulation or resonance control.  But some people are very successful with a pace like this.

Listen a bit to these speakers.  What do you think of their tempo/pace?

John Korrey,  World Champion Auctioneer

Emily Wears, female auctioneer

I found this video and like it a lot because it shows a very typical, well spoken professional woman speaking at a comfortable pace.  What do you think?

Perfectly paced speech

This last video, of Jean Kilbourne, who is a feminist author, speaker, and filmmaker is a fine example of wonderfully paced female speaker!  Listen to her tempo, and while you’re listening, notice her melodic intonation and fluency.

Exercises:

These three exercises are designed to give you a sense of pace or tempo when you speak.

One: count the beats

I know I said counting beats wasn’t necessary, but initially (for you non-musical folks) it’s a good way to incorporate the notion of pacing.  Listen again to the three samples above.

Two: Phrases

Recall, that one important strategy to mastering your feminine voice is to chunk down all the tasks into manageable sizes.  Working with phrases is one way to implement this strategy.

Let one of the above beats play in the background as you read each phrase.  Remember, it’s not about saying one word per beat, but just having a general sense of how fast/slow you’re going and what feels right to you.

Three Syllable Phrases Four Syllable Phrases
Not right now. Cream and sugar.
Time to go. Bread and butter.
Close your eyes. Salt and pepper.
Fine report. Toast and butter.
Read the book. Pie and coffee.
Who is it? Needle and thread.
Pick it up. Turkey and cheese.
Take a nap. Nice to meet you.

Three: Reading

This fun little limerick has a rhythmic pace to it.  Let any of the tempos above play in the background as you read this poem.  Which tempo feels right?

SMILE FOR YOU


Smiling is infectious; you catch it like the flu,
When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too.
I passed around the corner and someone saw my grin
When he smiled I realized I’d passed it on to him.
I thought about that smile, then I realized its worth,
A single smile, just like mine could travel round the earth.
So, if you feel a smile begin, don’t leave it undetected
Let’s start an epidemic quick, and get the world infected!

Step 9:  PACING

For September, your goal is to apply your metacognitve strategy to the pacing of your daily practice routine and to your daily speaking.

I’d LOVE to know how you’re doing with Step 9. Stay in touch over the month.

Keeping you and your voice close to my heart,

Kathe

Denver, Colorado

30-Day Crash Course

Fundamentals of Your Feminine Voice

Beyond the Fundamentals 1: the next dimension

Learn more about the 30-Day Crash Course

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DOWNLOAD “Fundamentals of Your Feminine Voice” MP3 program NOW! CLICK ON the link below.