There’s a place for breathy voice quality. In singing, it can feature for stylistic reasons or as part of falsetto range. In the spoken voice though, it might best be limited to an intimate bedroom setting. A spoken voice that’s too heavily populated with breathy voice quality is usually a voice that’s in trouble – either the vocal cords aren’t vibrating as they should or, some pathology has become part of them. An example of this would be nodules (swellings) on the vocal cords.
The breathy singer I describe here had no vocal cord pathology. She had what is often termed a ‘persistent phonatory gap’. For a voice to work as it should, the vocal cords need to meet along their full length- a little gap at the back is fine, especially in female voice but not too much or the increased breath escape will cause the voice to sound breathy or husky.
I’ve seen client ‘C’ three times now and it was in her third session that she had her greatest breakthrough. For her, it’s a question of singing style and voice quality. She has developed a way of singing that puts unnecessary tension in her larynx resulting in her cords being held apart a lot of the time rather than coming together. As for all singers with this internal larynx configuration, she reports fatigue, loss of range, power and volume.
I’ve been teaching client C how to start her voice off by bringing her vocal cords together. That glottal shock threw her for a bit but once she started experiencing her spoken voice with more body and tone, we progressed to securing more vocal cord closure and voice projection – vital for most pop, modern and musical theatre singing.