Archive for voice feminization

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

Melodic Intonation – contrastive stress

“Speak with enthusiasm,” was the common feedback to speakers of my local ToastMasters Club.  I was a member for some time ,and I not only gained additional knowledge and experience as a public speaker, but it was very reinforcing to learn more about how important our voices are in communicating our message at a public level.  You might be interested in learning more about what ToastMasters says about our speaking voices.

Melodic intonation, or vocal inflection, is the pitch variability we use to communicate the meaning of what we say.  Professor Albert Mehrabian (psychology, UCLA) has been a pioneer in the field of human communications and has provided a wealth of empirical data about how we relate to each other via verbal and non-verbal language.  In 1967, Mehrabian and Wiener examined the effects of vocal tone on the meaning of three single words spoken with three different emotions. They found that tone carried more meaning than the individual words themselves.

This makes intuitive sense, of course, yet these frequently sited studies have often over-generalized the findings to conclude that vocal tone added more than the actual words we speak to convey meaning.  Regardless of how the data may be interpreted, we can be confident that melodic intonation does convey important meaning about what we’re saying.  It is with our use of vocal inflection that others gain insight into how we’re feeling or what importance specific  words lend to what we’re saying.

Let’s consider the problem: flat, lifeless, boring expression.  Check out the video below. Do you want to listen to this guy for more than 20 seconds?  I watched for about a minute and realized this was the perfect video to show an example of a flat, lifeless, boring voice (and what he’s talking about isn’t at all riveting either).

Flat, Lifeless, Boring

Here is a great example of a professional speech coach who speaks very well (and has great tips).  Do you like her style?  Would she be a speaking role model?

Professional Speech Coach

Exercise:

One way to speak with enthusiasm is to emphasize or stress certain key words.  Let’s consider this neutral phrase:

The cake is great and the rainbow is beautiful.

Its meaning invariable comes alive depending upon which word is emphasized. Record yourself saying this phrase (be sure to first tune your pitch & resonators) in three different ways.  For example, emphasize the word cake.  What message do you think the phrase now conveys–maybe that the cake (not some other thing, like possibly the cookie) is great. We use this type of constrastive stress frequently in our day-to-day conversations to communicate (or constrast) differences in how we feel toward one thing compared to another.

Now, try emphasizing the word rainbow. Your vocal tone should convey a contrast—that you mean to communicate that the rainbow, not say, the clouds, are beautiful.  Can you hear the contrast?  Can you feel the difference (think proprioception)?

If you were ordering a cup of coffee at a coffee shop and wanted decaf, you might emphasize the word decaf or the flavor or roast of the coffee you want, to be sure they get your order right. Personally, I love cream, not milk, in my morning coffee. 

Step 10:  Melodic intonation

Your goal is to focus on word and syllable stress (or emphasis) to speak with enthusiasm.

Stay in touch. I’d LOVE to know how you’re doing with Step 10.

Keeping you and your voice close to my heart,

Kathe

Denver, Colorado

One Genius Method to Shape Your Feminine Voice.

June – the month of solstices, weddings, gay pride, Venus transit and … RESONANCE.

This month we will explore the element of resonance and you’ll learn to play with your mind and experiment with your thoughts as a method to shape your resonators to sound more feminine.

I know you all want the secret trick, the magic juju, the single strategy that would blast you into a perfect feminine voice.  But…

…it doesn’t work that way.

In my experience, slow and steady wins the race.  Motor patterns or habits are developed and perfected over time.  It will likely take you a year or more to:

  1. Fully understand the concepts and mechanics of the skills,
  2. To set aside time for your daily practice routine; and
  3. To actually practice twice daily, every day.

A Simple Definition for Resonance:  reverberation of sound in a medium.

When the vocal folds are set into motion (remember the aerodynamic nature of phonation) that sound reverberates in the chambers of the throat, mouth and nose.  These three chambers are of particular importance when you endeavor to feminize your voice.

A thought experiment (Gedankenexperiment; from German) considers some hypothesis, theory or principle for the purpose of thinking through its consequences or outcomes. The common goal of a thought experiment is to explore the potential consequences or outcomes (actions) of the principle in question.

Einstein was famous for his thought experiments.  He is said to have begun them at the age of 16.  Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity was derived employing this method.

While you don’t have to be an Einstein to make use of this strategy, you can use this logic to weave your way through the complexities of voice feminization, specifically our discussion here of resonance.

Our Thought Experiments

Let’s begin with two assumptions or problems:

  1. Size DOES matter.  The resonating chambers of your mouth and throat are larger than those chambers of a GG (genetic girl) who is your same physical height.
  2. Bright vs Dark Tone Focus.  You already know that creating a feminine voice is more than just speaking in the “right” pitch register.  The perception of voice femininity is perfected by how you shape the resonant frequencies of your voice.

Virtual Piano: You’ll need to provide yourself the A3 pitch for these experiments.  Try this [CLICK HEREvirtual piano.

NOTE: These are thought experiments; try to work them out in your mind.  Listen to the A3 pitch before working with the experiment (unless you’re very experienced with pitch tuning).

Experiment One: Sensory Perception of Space and Resonance.

In Your Mind: Sit tall with your lips together.  Now clench your teeth, pressing your tongue hard to the roof of your mouth (hard palate) and hum at the A3 pitch (for just a few seconds).

Question: What happens?

Answer: The sound comes out your nose.  The sound /m/ is one of the three nasal sounds (in English).

Question: What else happens?

Answer: The resonance is restricted or muffled (dampened) because of the constriction in your throat and the tissues in the nose.

Question: What would happen if instead of clenching your teeth and tightening your jaw and constricting in your mouth and throat, you were to hum the A3 pitch while keeping your lips together, yet your mouth wide and your throat open (as if you were yawning with your lips together; I’ve heard it referred to as a “corporate yawn”; what you might do if you were trying to suppress a yawn during an important meeting at work)?

Answer: There would be lower resonance frequencies (compared to the clenched condition) even though you are still humming A3.  Can you hear (in your mind) that the sound is lower or deeper and that there’s a slightly different vibration in your throat?

Experiment Two: Sensory Perception of Space and Resonance.

In Your Mind: Sit tall with mouth fairly wide open.  While “singing” (in your mind), the syllable “ha” on the A3 pitch.  Play the pitch again on your virtual piano if you need to. Your mouth should be wide enough to fit the thickness of your first two fingers between your upper and lower teeth. Now sustain “ha” A3 pitch (for just a few seconds).

Question: What happens?

Answer: The resonance frequencies for the “ha” are quite different than for the “hum.”

Question: What do you imagine you would feel?

Answer: The sound is coming out of your mouth, not your nose.  There’s not much of a sensation of vibration (or buzz) in your face or lips and certainly not your nose.  It’s difficult to feel anything in the mouth.

Experiment Three: Sensory Perception of Space and Resonance.

In Your Mind: In this third experiment you’ll repeat the steps above combining the hum and “ha” sounds with tight/clenched and wide open jaw positions.  As in Experiment One, clench your teeth, press your tongue hard to the roof of your mouth (hard palate) and hum at the A3 pitch for just for a few seconds, then open your mouth just slightly and sustain “ha” at the A3 pitch.  Now, repeat the hum and the “ha” in rapid succession like this:

mmm-haaa; mmm-haa; mmm-haaa

Question: What happens?

Answer: Your soft palate lowers for the /m/ and the sound it directed out of your nose and you and feel the buzz in your lips and nose (and eyeballs and forehead).  Your soft palate raises for the “ha” and the sound is directed out of your mouth. The buzz sensation is less obvious, but with practice you’ll learn to use this image of buzz to direct the resonance of your voice forward.

Question: What would you hear?

Answer: There would be no change in pitch, but you would hear a different sound. That different sound is a shift in resonance.  As you train your voice, and learn to notice these subtleties, you’ll arm yourself with the tools to make a huge difference in your voice.

Experiment Four: Bright vs. Dark Tone Focus.

There are ways to “brighten” your tone. Listen to this song from the Little Mermaid TV show before beginning this thought experiment.

The Little Mermaid TV Show – Daring to Dance 2

In Your Mind: Sit tall and draw upon your imagination to sense a buzz in your lips, nose, cheekbones, eyes and forehead.  Pull sharply into the focus of voice of the actress/singer from this video and hear (in your mind) youself singing as you “sing-count” the words “one, two, three”.  Repeat (in your mind) as many times as you need to so that you’re imaging that you sound like this singer.  Listen to this song as many times as you need to memorize the sound (in your mind).

Question: What happens?

Answer: The brightness of this voice is a result of a very forward placed voice.  A dark voice is produced in the back of the throat, like in Experiment One when you opened your throat as if to yawn while humming/singing “ha”.

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I know it’s very difficult to notactually conduct these experiments, so go for it.  What is your outcome?

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Step 6:  Resonance

For the month of June, your goal is to play with these thought experiments. Spend some time each day working them through in your mind.  You don’t have to be a theoretical physicist to be successful with these.  And, you’ll find that the mystery of resonance—I get a lot of questions and comments that this element is very difficult, even elusive—is yours to discover.

I’d LOVE to know how you’re doing with Step 6. Stay in touch over the month.

Keeping you and your voice close to my heart,

Kathe

Denver, Colorado

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