What is a voice crack?


I was wondering what a voice crack is and how it happens.

In: Biology

An unplanned switch of register, from low to high for example. But note that rather than just pitch, register in this case often involves the production, eg head vs chest tone.

So…according to kidshealth.org, as we grow our larynxes (also known as the “voice box”, where breathing, swallowing, and talking happen) get longer and thicker, and as these changes happen cracks and squeaks can occur. Think of it like the structure of a house settling and shifting, and the creaks and groans you may hear when that occurs. 🙂

An uncontrolled switch of vocal registers, unless you’re someone like SIA or Mariah Carey, which are known for using voice-cracks as a way to color their singing.

Too much force going up, you’re going to crack because your “chest-voice” (the darker and deeper part of your voice) can’t go that high without switching gears. Too breathy or light when going down from your head-voice (the brighter and higher part of your voice) and you’re going to crack as well because it’s quite difficult to have a breathy and bright lower register, specially without switching back to your lower-gear.

Yodelers, for example, have mastered this switch and use it stylistically for their singing.

A vocal crack is not unhealthy either, which means that if you crack, it’s simply your voice choosing the best mechanism to produce whatever sound it was that you tried to make. It’s also quite common for teenage boys because our voices start to get deeper, (most of us that is) due to puberty, which means that whatever note you could hit with your chest-voice before puberty, you’re probably not going to be able after puberty finishes unless you have a solid-grasp of how your voice works. The cracks go away after puberty (usually) because you’ eventually and subconsciously adjust your entire speaking-range to your new post-puberty range.

Hopefully all this answers your question.

I’m long past puberty, and I don’t normally experience cracks. However, I record parts of the Sunday newspaper for the vision-impaired, and often after reading for a couple of hours, I’ll have a real issue with cracking. I’ll break from normal baritone to Mickey Mouse. Generally, after I take a break, it seems to improve or even stop entirely.

What is actually going on when that happens?

Voice teacher here- all the comments about registers are correct. Mechanically, when you are on your chest register- the register that most of us speak in- the vocal cords like to be thicker and shorter, but in head register, the chords like to be longer and thinner. Singers learn how to transition smoothly brown those registers. When that transition isn’t smooth, the cords snap to a position rather than gradually transition- that’s a voice crack. Sometimes that happens because a singer is purposefully delaying a transition too long, sometimes it happens normally as part of thier training as the cords are building the muscle memory and the precision to do this.

In male puberty, because of the change in size of the larynx and the vocal cords, the chords are trying to figure out to to work, so those sudden transitions happen. When you’re sick or you overuse your voice, the chords are tired so they can’t transition as easily

Hopefully that helps!