Make me into Mr. Ed
March 30, 2013 12:41 PM   Subscribe

Recently I had a throat infection, and for a couple of days my voice dropped about an octave from its usual pitch. This came with an unexpected perk: there seems to be an inverse correlation between pitch of male voice and female attention. Women's heads turned when I spoke. I got big smiles from women staff members who had been dour to the previous customer. Etc. This was awesome, and I'd like to find a way to reproduce this experience without having to get strep throat. The obvious answer is voice lessons, but I can't afford that at the moment. What are some exercises or other things I can do to make my voice deeper?
posted by zeri to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know that this is a good idea, but I read that a producer used to take his actress girlfriend to the mountains to just scream until her vocal cords were scarred. His intent was to give her a huskier, sexier voice. Supprosedly, it worked and helped make her a star. I believe the anctress was Linda Evans but I cannot find a reference to the story online.
posted by Michele in California at 12:51 PM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

You can use vocal techniques to go down into more of a "chest" voice, which is how basses and baritones use their lower register. Videos like this one might be a place to start.
posted by xingcat at 12:53 PM on March 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

My voice got permanently lower during my late teens because I had persistent allergies that gave me a sharp, whooping-style cough for about a third of any given year (also, I had these awesome dreams about being a fish flopping around outside a fishbowl every night for weeks. Allergies!). I already had a pretty low voice for a girl and now I can sing lower notes than my husband can. You could definitely replicate this by moving to a place with bad pollution for a while, or a place where you have seasonal allergies to the local flora. After about, say, five years of abuse your voice will never go back to where it was before.
posted by town of cats at 1:04 PM on March 30, 2013

It depends on how you want your voice to sound and whether you want to be able to use your voice at its current pitch in some sitations.

Your voice was lower while you were ill because your vocal folds were inflamed, oedematous and generally puffed up. This meant they weighed more per unit length and, just like a thicker guitar string, they vibrated at a lower frequency and produced a sound of lower pitch. This gave you your deep voice.

You can mimic this disease process by causing intentional damage to your vocal folds by screaming, shouting, repeated hard coughing and throat clearing or by constantly exposing yourself to irritants like cigarette smoke. This will cause inflammation and probably eventually scarring of your vocal folds, increasing the mass and thus reducing your vocal pitch. Although inflammation is temporary, scarring is permanent and in this case you would not be able to return to your old voice.

You can also make your vocal folds heavier by getting filler injections. I believe this is temporary though it's pretty invasive and you'd need voice therapy to go alongside it.

However, when you were ill you also probably noticed that your voice was not only deep but also a bit hoarse and husky. This is because the inflammation makes your vocal folds a bit stiff and tight and the pattern of vibration changes. This would be there if you damaged your voice by screaming or shouting as well. I suspect it would also be there if you permanently scarred your vocal folds because fibrotic tissue is less flexible than the normal tissues. So it depends what you want your voice to sound like.

I wouldn't recommend trying to purposefully use a deeper voice all the time. It is possible to learn to use a deeper speaking voice, but without guidance on vocal technique you run the risk of deveoping vocal nodules or contact ulcers, which can take quite a while to heal and be expensive to diagnose and treat.

[Source of knowledge - I'm a Speech and Language Therapist who is not currently working in voice therapy, though I have in the past]
posted by kadia_a at 1:34 PM on March 30, 2013 [15 favorites]

I can't back this up with Science, but on the basis of personal experience and hearsay, being relaxed helps. If I am singing with good friends and good beer, I gain a few tones at the bottom (more as the night goes on, but temporary inflammation caused by loud singing probably contributes there). Conversely, if I'm, say, giving a public presentation, my voice gets higher. It does vaguely stand to reason that being tense could tense up your vocal cords along with the rest of you.
posted by pont at 1:43 PM on March 30, 2013

I'm not suggesting this to be flip, but could you just try talking in a lower voice and see if that works?
posted by kinetic at 1:45 PM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Vocal techniques for singers to improve breath support can improve the resonance of your speaking voice. It won't be lower, per se, but you may find that you get the head-turning effect that you're after. You can do some googling around for things to try at home to get started. You might also look into some sessions in the Alexander technique.
posted by desuetude at 3:02 PM on March 30, 2013

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