A brunette woman with a blue shirt holds her ear as she speaks into a microphone. Voice Acting

How to Make Your Voice Raspy

Raspy voices are prevalent in music and voice acting. If you are trying to play multiple characters as a voice actor or want to change your singing voice, you might be wondering how to make your voice sound raspier and lower, like many of the celebrities you know and love.

What is a Raspy Voice?

A raspy voice is a voice that is lower and has a gravely or rough edge to it. The tone is often used in singing or speaking and has grown in popularity over the past few decades. Many people have naturally raspy voices as well. However, those who don’t can acquire one through healthy or unhealthy methods, with the former being preferable.

Before we say how to make your voice raspy for singing or voice acting, it’s crucial to note that you should take proper care of your vocal cords. There are ways of achieving vocal fry or a raspy voice without harming your throat. If you feel that your throat is sore or strained, stop trying and drink some water.

Raspy Voice’s Growth in Pop Culture and Popularity

Over the past few decades, raspy voices have become more popular in singing, acting, and celebrity culture. Singers such as Katy Perry and Amy Winehouse have used raspy voices to create a unique and signature sound. The popularity is visible in the rise of raspy-voiced auditionees to shows like ‘X Factor’.

Meanwhile, in the world of television and movies, actresses such as Emma Stone and Zooey Deschanel have used their naturally raspy speaking voices to score larger roles. Raspy voices in men are seen as more commanding, while women with hoarse voices are often considered more confident and alluring.

How to Make Your Voice Raspy

Vocal cords are fragile; too much strain or pressure can wear them out or cause nodes, polyps, or cysts to grow. A raspy voice is fun to play around with, but it’s crucial that you keep your vocal cords healthy so you can have a long career as a voice actor or vocalist.

Vocal Fry

That being said, the easiest way to make your voice raspy without harm is by developing your vocal fry. Vocal fry is a singing and speaking method that adds a growling rasping sound to lower notes or spoken words. It’s a great way to make your voice sound raspy for a character’s voice or to sing a song without harming your vocal cords.

Vocal fry utilizes the lower parts of your vocal cords and makes the words you speak and sing sound breathier, raspier, and sometimes creaky. It’s part of the reason that raspy voices have become so popular. Singers like Katy Perry and Amy Winehouse used vocal fry to give themselves a lower, raspier sound.

It doesn’t sound quite natural, but vocal fry is not unhealthy. To make vocal fry, you will shorten your vocal cords and relax them as much as possible. This allows the air moving through them to have a raspier, breathier sound. You can achieve this by training your voice with a vocal coach or training on your own.

Vowel Sounds

Another healthy way to increase your voice’s raspiness is to play around with your vowel sounds. This is an exercise that vocal coaches encourage for vocal range and development. The “uh” vowel sound is the best to start on and can be made raspy or guttural with little effort.

To make a raspy “uh” sound, begin by saying the letter and moving your voice up and down the register. As it’s at the lower end, you can put some more air into it, humming through the sound. This will create a slight rasp. Although it’s not as extreme as vocal fry, it’s a helpful way to start.

If you practice this raspy sound without straining your voice, you can eventually move through various vowel sounds and practice speaking this way. You’ll be able to sing and speak full phrases with a raspier, more guttural sound. Just make sure you stay hydrated to avoid overstraining your voice.

Unhealthy Methods

There are other methods of creating a raspy voice without training, but they will damage your throat and vocal cords in the long run. So, if you want to continue as a voice actor, vocalist, or singer, you should focus on your low vowel sounds and vocal fry. Some less healthy ways to increase the raspiness of your voice include:

  • Extreme dehydration
  • Straining your vocal cords
  • Overeating spicy food
  • Yelling while singing
  • Whispering while singing
  • Prolonged, chronic smoking

These have varying degrees of ill health (spicy foods are not nearly as bad for you as smoking is), but none are good ways to make your voice sound a certain way. So, if you want a raspier voice, practice vocal fry or work with a vocal coach. This way, you can sustainably achieve your goals.

Best and Most Famous Raspy Voices

Raspy voices have come into style lately, especially with the rise of pop stars and celebrities like Emma Stone and Zooey Deschanel. However, raspy voices have been around for years, and many celebrities come by them naturally. Here are some of the most famous singers and actors with raspy voices over the years:

  • Zooey Deschanel 
  • Emma Stone
  • Katy Perry
  • Louis Armstrong
  • Al Pacino
  • Clint Eastwood
  • Steven Tyler
  • Scarlett Johansen
  • Will Arnett
  • Mariah Carey
  • Idina Menzel
  • Lindsey Lohan
  • Amy Winehouse
  • Miley Cyrus

Of course, it’s not just famous people who have raspy voices. As singers try to emulate them, reality shows like ‘The Voice’ have seen an uptick in singers with raspier, huskier voices. These people have likely used vocal fry to help them achieve that.

Final Thoughts

If you practice your vocal fry or specific vowel sounds, you can give your voice a raspier tone without damaging your vocal cords or beginning any unhealthy habits. With time and practice, you can sound more like Emma Stone, Louis Armstrong, or any of the other celebrities with famously raspy voices.

What do you think about raspy voices and vocal fry? What are your tips for voice actors trying to get a raspier voice? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • Avatar for Lynette Mieglitz
    Lynette Mieglitz
    September 23, 2022, 5:19 pm

    OMG I have been battling a raspy voice because of severe allergies I was about to throw in the towel on Voice Over and now I find out that it could be working for me. Thank you Voices Lynette