Inappropriate Vocal Components


Normal control of inspiration (breathing in) and expiration (breathing out) is necessary to support normal phonation (voicing). Therefore, if certain functional respiratory habits and behaviors are inappropriate, it may lead directly to the development of a voice disorder. Here are some examples of inappropriate respiration as it relates to voice:

  • shallow, thoracic (chest) breathing pattern that does not support normal phonation
  • habit of speaking at the end of air


People who abusively hyper adduct (forcefully bringing together) the vocal folds may also demonstrate inappropriate phonation as a functional etiology. Here are some examples of inappropriate phonation habits:

  • Hard glottal attack. The hard glottal attack is forceful adduction (coming together) of the vocal folds at the beginning of sound production. It tends to happen on words that start with vowels (eat, at, on). Habitual use of a hard glottal attack usually causes an increase in laryngeal area muscle tension, as well as an increased and unnecessary impact of the vocal fold mucosal.
  • Breathy/Aspirate attack. This is the opposite of the hard glottal attack. Instead of the vocal folds tightly closing before sound starts, the breathy/aspirate attack is the result of the vocal folds coming together after the breath has started. Try putting the letter “h” in front of the word “eat”. Notice that the breath starts before the vowel sound. This is an aspirate attack.
  • Glottal fry. Glottal fry is the lowest range of phonation along the frequency continuum and the least flexible. Production of glottal fry is characterized by tightly approximated vocal folds whose free edges appear flaccid (loose). Persistent use of glottal fry, which has been described as sounding like a poorly tuned motorboat engine, will often cause vocal fatigue, laryngeal tension, and a "lump in the throat" feeling.


Once sound is generated at the level of the vocal folds (the sound source), it then passes through a series of filters (the vocal tract) that dampen and enhance the sound and make each voice unique and distinctive to the owner of the voice. There is a wide range of acceptable voice resonance patterns. Here are some things that may affect resonance:

  • Too much or too little nasality in the voice (hypernasal/denasal)
  • A hollow-sounding or dead-end resonance (cul-de-sac)
  • Tongue tension
  • Jaw tension
  • Laryngeal elevation


Pitch is the perceptual correlate of the fundamental frequency of voice. Misuse refers to pitch levels that are either too high, too low, or those that are lacking in variability(monotone). Habitual use of an inappropriate pitch may create laryngeal tension and strain.


Loudness is the perceptual term that relates to vocal intensity. The inappropriate use of loudness is demonstrated in voices that are habitually too soft, too loud, or lack loudness variability.


Rate (how fast/slow you talk) may contribute to laryngeal pathologies when speech is produced too rapidly.

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Meet the ProVoice Voice Care Team by accessing each of our bios and CV’s. We know that you have choices when it comes to health care and we take pride in providing each patient the best experience from your initial contact to discharge visit. With over 45 years of combined clinical voice experience Dr. LeBorgne, Dr. Gorman, and Erin Donahue have the knowledge, skills, and state-of-the-art equipment to meet all voice and swallowing needs. We look forward to addressing your voice concerns and getting you vocally healthy!

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