The word glottis refers to the vocal folds and the space between them. You can use the terms “vocal folds” and “glottis” interchangeably. We have already discussed this part of the body in our previous article on vocal folds, so refer back to that if you want to learn more details.
The term “glottal behavior” is sometimes used when discussing trans voice training. This phrase refers to the actions and decisions that every individual can make depending on how they want their voice to sound. These choices will contribute to creating either a more feminine or more masculine sounding voice. Vocal fold thickness, laryngeal vibratory mechanisms (LVMs), pitch, adduction/abduction, and constriction/retraction are all glottal behaviors that a singer can learn to manipulate.
Singers who are exposed to testosterone will naturally have thicker vocal folds that will produce a lower pitch. However, by training specific glottal behaviors, the singer can overcome this thickness and achieve vocal feminization. This training is also a crucial element for ftm trans voice students, as it will allow them to expand and enhance their lower registers.
Each of the glottal behaviors is highly sensitive and susceptible to change. Check out our previous articles on the false vocal folds, pitch, and M0, M1, M2, M3 for an in depth look on how they contribute to trans voice training.
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What are the vocal folds?
The vocal folds, sometimes called “vocal cords,” are two pieces of mucosal tissue located inside the throat. They are housed in the larynx, a cartilage structure that moves up and down within the throat. You can refer to our article on the larynx for more details.
The vocal folds are a key area in trans voice training because they will help determine if the voice is perceived as male or female. The vocal folds of males will be thicker and longer, about 1 inch in length. The folds of females will be thinner, and have an average length of ¾ of an inch. These differences allow males to sing lower, and females to sing higher. Changes occur when the folds are exposed to testosterone. They will grow thicker and longer, and start to produce a lower sounding pitch.
Whatever the shape of the folds, they remain highly responsive to changes in vocal technique. When the folds are tensed, the pitch will be raised, and when they relax, the pitch will lower. Training the folds to sustain a high-tension position will be especially helpful for trans students striving for voice feminization. In addition, the folds can create a variety of vibration sequences that can open up richness and power in the top or bottom of the voice. These sequences are called laryngeal vibratory mechanisms (LVMs), and are a powerful area of study for both mtf and ftm students. You can learn more about trans voice training and LVMs in our articles on M0, M1, M2, and M3.
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