Controlling the False Vocal Folds for Voice Feminization

The false vocal folds also called the vestibular folds, are folds of tissue that sit above the true vocal folds. Learning to control the false vocal folds is an important part of voice feminization. 

This guide will provide information on the false vocal folds and exercises to help controlling the false vocal folds of voice feminization.


What are the False Vocal Folds?

The false vocal folds form a protective layer above the true vocal folds and trachea. When someone is threatened, agitated, or in pain, the false vocal folds will collapse inward and constrict. This interrupts airflow and introduces a raspy, grainy quality to the voice.

The false vocal folds can also retract out of the way, allowing more space for airflow. This happens during laughter, gasping, relaxed breathing, and sniffing. These two states - constriction and retraction - create very different sounds.

Constriction makes the voice sound strained, rough, husky, or choked. Retraction makes the voice sound clearer, lighter, more open, and comfortable. With a neutral configuration, the voice is unremarkable and speech-like.


Why Control the False Folds for Voice Feminization?

Controlling the false folds conveys a speaker's comfort level and tension. Accidental constriction is a common mistake in voice feminization that can cause vocal fatigue. Constriction signals effort and strain, which is unnatural in speech.

Those with undesirable constriction can offset it by practicing active retraction. Retraction also feminizes the voice by adding thinness and lightness. It signals pleasantness and receptiveness.

In summary, false fold control is useful for:

  • Avoiding constriction mistakes
  • Sounding more feminine through retraction
  • Expanding expressive range

Ear Training for False Fold Sounds

Listening critically to constricted versus retracted sounds trains the ear to identify false fold positioning.

Try mimicking elderly, pained, and effortful voices to hear glottal constriction. Next, mimic breathy laughter or gentle sniffing for retraction.

Focus on the distinct sensations of squeezing versus expanding in the throat. With practice, you can recognize false fold behavior just by sound.


Exercises to Control the False Folds

Try these exercises to gain conscious control over constriction and retraction:


Constriction Exercises

  • Imitate an elderly voice
  • Add constriction to glottal taps
  • Squeeze an exhalation into "huh" sounds
  • Groan as if in pain

Retraction Exercises

  • Make a breathy "h" sound then retract the false folds to diffuse the air
  • Practice silent inhalations to feel the throat expand
  • Use imagined laughter to find the retraction feeling
  • Mimic provided audio samples of retracted sounds

Focus on isolating and controlling the specific muscles associated with false fold positioning. Be experimental - adjust positioning while varying other vocal techniques like pitch and resonance.

Retraction may feel like a "smiling" or spreading in the throat. With practice, you can offset habitual constriction and incorporate false fold control into your voice feminization skills.



Understanding and controlling the false vocal folds allows for:

  • Avoiding the common mistake of constriction
  • Increased feminization through retracted thinness
  • Greater vocal expressiveness

Practice the provided exercises to train your ear, develop awareness, and gain voluntary control. Conscious false fold positioning is crucial for unlocking your best feminine voice.