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Here’s How I Got a Deeper Voice (the 5 Best Techniques)

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If you came here from Google, you’ve probably already been through a heap of articles on how to get a deeper voice. The problem with these is, none of them seem to be written by people who are actually speaking from experience. With each point, you have no idea whether you’re getting tried and tested advice or just guesswork they’ve plucked from the internet.

McConaughey voice-deepening exercise

As someone who has actually deepened his voice (from about average to low), I wanted to take a different tack and discuss the methods that worked for me, alongside a few others. Most of these I’ve tried, but not all of them, so where I don’t have first-hand knowledge I’ll link to discussion boards to show you real people talking about these techniques and how they worked for them.

Just to get it out of the way, none of this is medical advice. I trust you to follow these tips without giving yourself an injury – and if you feel in any way like you might, you should stop immediately. Right, here we go.

1. Strengthen your Neck Muscles

I’ve seen a lot of talk about this online, so I wanted to start by confirming here: this truly does work. Actually, it’s my favourite method of all of them.

If you put your hand on your throat, you’ll feel two long muscles which run down from behind your ear to your collarbone. These are your sternocleidomastoids, and when they get tense they tug on your vocal chords, resulting in a higher note. Relax these and, logically enough, your voice gets lower.

Sternocleidomastoid stretch

One recommended way of doing this is by making the neck muscles stronger. Stronger muscles are better at meeting their daily demands and therefore less likely to tighten up throughout the day. I was interested in this idea, so I thought I’d test it out.

Every day, at 2 o’clock and in the same room, I recorded a sample of my voice and wrote down the figures. I chose 2pm because I wanted the ‘morning effect’ of my voice to have worn off and I knew I wouldn’t have been drinking alcohol around that time. After the recording, every other day, I’d do 3 sets of 20 reps of crunches, where I lay on my bench and slowly nodded my head from horizontal to vertical, tucking in my chin – like doing sit-ups with your neck.

And it worked. Here’s a chart I made with Vocular.

deepening-voice-graph

As you can see, by all four metrics, my voice did deepen over time. My matches completely changed too.

More compellingly, my voice actually got higher before it got lower. It starts at about 105Hz, then shoots up to 113Hz and stays high for a week, before it gradually deepened month after month to the current pitch of 89Hz. That’s like going from Edward Norton, to Justin Bieber, to Jon Hamm.

This fits the idea that strong neck muscles give you a deeper voice. The exercises first made my neck weaker, like any muscle when you start training it. So my voice got higher. Then, as I continued with the exercises, it got used to the strain and became stronger, and my pitch dropped.

I should add that I also stretch my neck to relieve any tension that might build up with the exercises. So if you’re thinking of doing this, that’s something to keep an eye on. In fact, this guy on Reddit seems to have a routine which worked really well for him and seems to focus more on stretching.

Update: I’m also currently experimenting with a neck harness to build the muscles at the back of my neck as well as the front. It’s early days but I’ll report back here if I find that to be more effective.

2. Breathe from the Diaphragm

Ever noticed how your shoulders bob up and down as you breathe in and out?

If you’re have, you’re doing it wrong. This is a thing called ‘shallow breathing’ and it’s something most people are guilty of. While it seems as good as any method, this kind of breath shifts effort to the upper half of the torso, putting tension on the neck and vocal chords.

Instead, breathe with the muscle that’s designed to do it: the diaphragm. As you inhale, try to shift the effort downward so your stomach flexes out while your shoulders remain completely still. Feel as though the air is being summoned by your abs.

I know it’s quite hard to follow in writing, so Eric Arceneaux does a very good job of explaining this.

This one correction had the greatest impact on my voice depth – but, like any bad habit, it requires a conscious effort to overcome it. You may want to try something to remind yourself when you’re creeping back to your old ways. One vocal coach has created the Singing-Belt to do this, although it’s expensive so using kinesiology tape or a tight T-shirt might work better.

It’s tough to get used to, but mastering diaphragmatic breathing will also give you a richer, more resonant voice, which is probably more important than having a deep voice. It also has a host of other benefits, such a reducing stress and improving athletic performance, since it’s just a more efficient way to breathe.

3. Aspirate

You can try this one for yourself and immediately see its effect. Open Vocular and enable the Pitch Tracker in Settings, then speak to the microphone in your normal voice and see what numbers come up.

Now try talking in a breathier, more aspirated kind of way, as if you’re speaking through a sigh. If you need someone to copy, Tom Hiddleston’s a pretty good example.

You should see your numbers drop as soon as you take on this breathier kind of tone. And not only does this make your voice deeper, it makes it more attractive too. A 2014 study found that the most attractive male voices were also the breathiest – and this was so pronounced that women preferred a high-pitched but breathy voice over a deep, non-breathy one.

4. Drink More Water

Please don’t skip over this section, because it’s a lot more important than you might think. You know how the depth of your voice is partly caused by the size of your vocal chords? Well, dehydration literally shrinks your vocal chords. The loss of water equates to a loss of mass, leaving you with thinner, squeakier vocal chords.

And, strikingly, most people are dehydrated. A recent study found that 75% of Americans fell far below the recommended daily intake, which, again, gives us a majority of people speaking with higher voices than they ought to be.

dehydrated-clint-eastwood

The solution is to make things easier for yourself. If you work at a desk, get a jug (one that can hold 3-4 litres) and fill it every morning. Not only will this encourage you to drink more because it’s there, it’ll bring the water to room temperature which stops the throat contracting from the cold.

If you’re sceptical about the impact of this, see for yourself. My hydrated voice is often so much deeper that it shares almost no overlap with my dehydrated one – the similarity comes out at about 10-20%. In fact, I now make a point of drinking a litre of water an hour before going on a date or to an important meeting.

5. Be More Monotone

I’ve noticed a few names that come up time and time again when discussing voice depth. One of these names is Clint Eastwood. But the weird thing here is that, in terms of pitch, Eastwood doesn’t have a deep voice. It’s about average.

clint-eastwood

However, one thing Eastwood has in spades in monotony. This is a very manly trait – in fact, a recent study found that men with monotone voices tend to have more sexual partners than those who don’t. So it may be that the masculinity of a monotone voice tricks people into thinking that voice is deep as well.

This is backed up by a paper on vocal attractiveness, which found that the voices which varied less in pitch were the most likely to be considered deep. In fact, pitch variation was almost as important as actual pitch in deciding whether a voice was deep or not.

24 Comments

  1. Michael

    You mentioned here that you were experimenting with a neck harness to build the muscles on the back of your neck. Have you noticed any difference in your voice after doing so?

    1. Vocular

      Hey Michael, yeah, I meant to update this actually. My voice is now 85Hz, which is the deepest I’ve ever known it. It sounds weird as well but my neck actually feels different. My SCMs used to feel gristly and tight, but now they feel a lot more supple and tender, like a good cut of meat. Sounds weird but that’s the best description I have for it.

    2. Vocular

      I’ve been doing the neck harness exercises for six weeks too, initially with 5kg, then 7.5kg, now 10kg.

      1. Michael

        NIce! Could you recommend a specific neck harness?

        1. Vocular

          Well, I haven’t tried any others but the one I use is by One X Sport. I don’t remember buying it, so it must’ve been cheap. There are probably more comfortable ones out there as well though.

  2. Matheus

    Thanks for the tips! When you began trying out the neck exercises how long did it take until you saw some positive results?

    1. Vocular

      Hmmm, can’t remember the first time. I think it’s generally been in the second week that I’ve seen improvements each time. Have you been doing them for long?

      1. Matheus

        I just started 4 days ago. So far as expected my voice has gone up a bit. You mind going into a bit of detail on what exercises and stretches you do? I read the reddit post you mention in the article and Im pretty much following that. I do 15 repetitions of “sit-ups” with my neck and hold at the top for 10s or so. I do 3-4 sets twice a day. After I do the opposite by stretching my neck out as opposed to contracting it.

        1. Vocular

          Yeah, I only do 3 sets and I don’t actually hold, and I do this every other day (3-4 times a week). I do also exercise the muscles at the back of my neck too with a neck harness because I was worried about a muscular imbalance. They seem to have gone pretty well, although I’ve been very slack about it lately. Stretch wise, I just do SCM stretches and this stretch when it suits me.

  3. Matheus

    Sweet, thank for the info. Have you thought about adding a section where people can add pictures of their progress? My voice is gradually getting lower in part because of the exercises now.

    1. Vocular

      Great idea, I take it you’re keeping a chart at the moment?

      1. Matheus

        My phone was restored but I was. Just started a new one today.

  4. Edward

    I cant get the chart to work with the app

    When are you adding in the other features for example to get rid of nasality etc. etc.

    1. Vocular

      Hey Edward, what device are you using? Are you saving a recording before adding it too?

      I’m not totally sure. My dev’s been working on another project for a while, so he’s not been able to focus on this. Good news is that that project goes live in early May, so, unless there are any problems, we should be able to work on adding new features then. From a linguistic point of view, I already know how to calculate these things, so we just need to get the code done.

  5. Mory

    Really interesting !
    Could you explain how you suggets to work with a kinesiology tape?

    1. Vocular

      Sure, you just wrap a band of it around your chest (just below your pectorals and shoulder blades). When you start breathing with your chest, it’ll start to tighten and remind you to breathe with your diaphragm instead.

      1. Mory

        Thanks!
        Is it possible to use this also for building support like the singing belt is supposed to do?

  6. Frey

    Is tgere any way to gain back morning voice after losing it if not what to do then?

  7. Kalle

    Is there any risk of getting sleep apnea by doing these exercises? Ive read that you can get it by adding mass to your neck but that requires a bit of heavy lifting. I want to try the exercises that you wrote about my I dont want to risk getting other problems like sleep apnea.

    1. Vocular

      Hi Kalle, that’s an interesting question. I didn’t actually know what sleep apnea was until a minute ago, so I can say I certainly haven’t been affected, but then again, I don’t know whether some people are especially susceptible to it. Nobody’s written in to report this to me though. Is there a big risk in trying the exercises and seeing if they affect your sleep?

    2. Vocular

      I live near an Olympic physio who specialises in the neck and shoulders and I’ve been wanting to interview her for a while, so I’ll add this to the list for when I do. Won’t be for a while though.

  8. Jack

    Hi will this work for me as I am 14 and going through puberty my voice hasent dropped and it’s annoying so will this work?

    1. Vocular

      Hi Jack, no, it won’t work with that kind of thing. When you go through puberty, your voice drops about 200 Hz. These exercises (in my experience) deepen your voice by about 20 Hz, so they’re no contender to your voice’s natural development. You could use Vocular to track the change in your voice over time and see how it’s changing month by month so you can see that it is getting deeper – but don’t get upset if you don’t like the initial results. That change will come with time.

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