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Malady causes changes in vocal timbre

blondiewalesblondiewales Pro Posts: 483
edited May 2015 in Vocal Health and Wellness
I'm just trying to dig up some information on this. A couple of weeks ago I was super excited to finally have some time to record back home, so I set up my gear in my room and went at it. Unfortunately, there was probably mold, dust, and other bad stuff floating around in my old recording room from lack of use. After a few hours, even while still recording, I felt tightness in my nostrils and a slight headache (which I never get). The next morning I had the light sniffles but no real feelings of being sick. I've been getting better since. I was pretty concerned when I felt it going into the top of my lungs as this could start me coughing (which really destroys the voice super quick), but it passed.

Starting about three days ago, I noticed my morning voice became VERY low.  Ken mentions having a much lower voice in the mornings, which I've noticed as well. However, I'm saying that my morning speaking voice has dropped a good octave below what it usually is. I'm a tenor and I've grown into the habit over my time with KTVA of speaking some words right after I wake up to gauge how my voice resonance, vocal placement, and throat openness for the day. So I was really surprised to open my mouth and have James Earl Jones come out. The first day this happened, the voice change stuck around for for a couple of hours. I used the opportunity to record low-pitch quotes like "this is CNN..." and "Simba.........", but I consciously raised my vocal pitch when speaking to people during this time so I wouldn't freak them out. I noticed that I still sounded different than my usual self, like a baritone or bass that is speaking at tenor pitch. As far as I could tell I still had higher range (that I use for singing, I didn't try any exercises that go off into the sixth octave.)

It seems to only happen after I sleep. Even if I take a nap for about an hour, I notice the first few sentences I speak are partially affected by this. This morning the effects wore off in about 30 minutes. I was woken up by a call from my producer who said "wow, you sound terrible" and I had to assure him that I would go back to normal in a short while. Does anyone have any information on why this is happening? The songs I play and record don't have freakish distortion or anything, and I haven't done any sessions that go long enough to affect this type of change.

By the way, I wouldn't really consider this an opportunity or a gift. I DO have more resonance than I normally do on my lower range, and power to baritones and basses, but I've grown to like my lyric tenor timbre.

I know your first instinct is to ask for a recording, so I'll try to get on that.


Here's what I sound like it the morning: I know it's very short and not how the line goes but I feel like it shows what the timbre is. Completely relaxed, neutral larynx sound for me in the morning.

Here's what I normally sound like in a clip from a recent recording session, somewhat flawed: https://clyp.it/stjk5s12 (SoundCloud automatically barred this clip).


  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,346

    From everything you've said, and from similar things that have happened to me, I think you may be getting low-grade allergy reactions or possibly a viral affectation.

    Sometimes we get a bug that doesn't necessarily cause coughing or feelings of illness, but it can be heard on the timbre of the voice.  Sometimes these can linger.

    Molds can settle into the trachea and lungs, but you've only had this for about three days, so most likely this will pass, and hopefully not linger. 

    If you've still got it after a week, it's time to check with an MD or an ENT.

    I hope it passes soon.

    All the Best!


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