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note on the vowel sound, and tends almost of course to a louder and higher note, it will be better illustrated in connexion with the following articles.
Loudness.- In theory, perhaps, every one can easily understand, that a sound may be either loud or soft, on the same note. The only difference, for example, betwixt the sound produced by a heavy stroke, and a gentle one, on the same bell, is in the quantity or momentum. This distinction as applied to music, is perfectly familiar to all acquainted with that art. As applied to elocution, however, it is not so easily made; for it is a common thing for speakers to confound high sounds with loud, and low with soft. Hence we often hear it remarked of one, that he speaks in a low voice, when the meaning is, a feeble one; and perhaps if he were told that he is not loud enough, he would instantly raise his key, instead of merely increasing his quantity on the same note.
If any one, who has given no attention to this point, thinks it 100 easy to demand attention, he may be better satisfied by a single experiment. Let him take this line of Shakspeare,
O, you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome ! and read it first in a voice barely audible. Then let him read it again and again, on the same pitch, doubling his quantity or impulse of sound, at each repetition, and he will find that it requires great care and management to do this, without raising his voice to a higher note.
Strength of voice depends on the possession of perfect vocal organs, and on the due exercise of these.
The lungs, trachea, larynx, glottis, and epiglottis, are organs of sound, but not of speech, without the aid of others, namely the tongue, palate, lips, teeth, and 'nostrils, which are also organs of articulation. When these organs are all good, the voice of a speaker has sometimes been trained to such power as to be distinctly heard by twen. ty thousand people.
To strengthen the voice by exercise, observe these directions ; (1) Whenever you use your voice on common occasions, use as much voice as propriety will permit. (2) Read aloud, as a stated exercise. (3) Avoid all extreme efforts of lungs, especially in cases of hoarseness. (4) Avoid habits that injure the lungs,--such as attitudes of study, that cramp the vital functions; stimulating food or drinks, in connexion with speaking; and sudden exposure to cold air, when the lungs are heated.
Time.—The reader is desired here to turn back to the
remarks which I made, p. 53, on the words hat and hate, exemplifying the protraction of sound in a long vowel. That he may the better understand my meaning, let him suppose himself listening to a military officer, at the head of a brigade, giving the word of command, march. The only way in which he can possibly utter this word, so as to be heard by several thousand men, is so to manage the only vowel in it, as to expend upon it the full power of his voice. To do this, he must not clip off the a, as he might in conversation, but must strike it on that key note where his voice has most strength, and then protract this broad, open sound, perhaps for two seconds, before he touches the consonants which follow; thus,-MA...... RCH.
The case is just the same with the still broader vowel sound, in the word halt, as uttered in military command.
That there is no impossibility in acquiring this power of protracting and swelling any open sound, is evident from the fact, that it is constantly done in music, when a pointed semibreve holds the voice to one continuous note, perhaps for three seconds.
But as discipline of the voice on unmeaning, elementary sounds, seems an arbitrary, and somewhat forbidding exercise, I shall set down a few brief examples, in which sentiment and emotion demand the above distinctions to be made, as to fulness, loudness, and time. These are intended as mere specimens, from which the reader will easily understand how to select others of similar character, from the EXERCISES, under different heads, especially Transition. These it will also be observed are taken from cases of exclamation, or other strong emotion, and addressed for the most part to persons supposed to be at a distance, requiring a full, loud note, on the emphatic words.
He woke to hear his sentry's shriek,
-Farewell, happy fields,
VANGUARD! to right and left the front unföld.* But the reader must now be reminded, that while it is often indispensable to prolong, and fill out the sound of a word, under strong emphasis, it would be preposterous to speak common words in this manner.
No variety of tones could produce the thrilling effects of music if every note were a semibreve. So in elocution, if every word and syllable were uttered with the same length, the uniformity would be as intolerable as the worst monotony.
The easy flow of delivery, requires that particles, and subordinate syllables, should be touched as lightly as is consistent with distinctness; while botlı sentiment and harmony demand, that the voice should throw an increase of quantity upon important words by resting on them, or by swell and protraction of sound, or both. He whose voice habitually prolongs short syllables, and such words as and, from, to, the, &c. must be a heavy speaker.
But time in elocution, has a larger application than that which respects words and clauses, I mean that which respects the general rate of de livery. In this case, it is not practicable, as in music, nor perhaps desirable, to establish a fixed standard, to which every reader or speaker shall conform. The habits of different inen may differ considerably in rate of utterance, without being chargeable with fault. But I refer rather to the difference which emotion will produce, in the rate of the same individual. I have said before, that those passions which quicken or retard a man's step in walking, will produce a similar effect on his voice in speaking. Narration is equable and flowing; vehemence, firm and accelerated ; anger and joy, rapid. Whereas dignity, authority, sublimity, awe-assume deeper tones, and a slower movement. Accordingly we sometimes hear a good reader or speaker, when there is some sudden turn of thought, check himself in the full current of utterance, and give indescribable power to a sentence, or part of a sen tence, by dropping his voice, and adopting a slow, full pronunciation
Sect. 5.-Compass of Voice. In this I refer to the range of notes, above and below the governing or natural key, which are required by a spirited and diversified delivery.
* See APPENDIX for more examples, under this head.
Sometimes from inveterate habit, and sometimes from incapacity of the organs, the voice has a strong, clear bottom, without any compass upwards. In other cases, it has a good top, but no compass below its key. Extreme instances to the contrary there may be, but commonly, I have no doubt that when a speaker uses only a note or two, above and below the key, it arises from habit, and not from organic defect.
Directions on this subject would be comparatively easy, if all who need them were acquainted with music. But experience taught me long ago, that no theories in elocution, which presuppose learners in this art to possess skill in musical sounds, can be generally useful Multitudes must be taught reading and speaking, who cannot accurate ly distinguish musical intervals of notes. Those who can do it, will find great facility in cultivating quantity and compass of voice. To such I recommend a course of experiments on different vowel sounds, such as occur in the examples of emphatic words under the last head. Thus, begin with hail, and speak it rather feebly, on the lowest note of
Then repeat it, a note higher, and so on through the octave, but still in a small voice. Then do the same thing with increase of strength, as you raise the note, that is, growing louder as you proceed. Finally, do the same thing with a view to prolongation of sound, uttering the word hail, with one beat, then with two, three, &c. If you attempt to combine in one experiment, compass, loudness, and length of sound, the trial of voice will be severe, and should be continued but a short time at once.
When this experiment is finished, it may be renewed on other words, as arm, charge, hope; the ultimate aim being in each case, to accustom the voice to notes high and lowo, loud and long.
When the student has ascertained his compass, by such experiments on single words, he may then practice reading passages of some length, on that part of his voice which he especially wishes to improve; taking care, in this more protracted exercise, not to pitch on the extreme note of his voice, either way, so far as to preclude some variety above or below, to correspond with natural delivery.
I would advise him next to read passages where the sentiment and style are specially adapted to the purpose he has in view. If he wishes to cultivate the bottom of his voice, he may take passages of poetry, in which the simile occurs, a figure that generally requires a low and equable movement of voice.
If he wishes to increase his compass on the higher notes, let him choose passages in which spirited emotion .prevails; especially such as have a succession of interrogative sentences. Instead of giving examples here, I refer the reader to EXERCISES on compass of voice.
Sect. 6.-Rhetorical Pause. Rhetorical punctuation has a few marks of its own, as the point of interrogation, and of admiration, the parenthesis, and the hyphen, all of which denote no grammatical relation, and have no established length. And there is no good reason, if such marks are used at all, why they should not be rendered more adequate to their purpose.
The interrogative mark, for example, is used to denote, not length of pause, but appropriate modification of voice, at the end of a question. But it happens that this one mark, as now used, represents two things, that are exactly contrary to each other. When the child is taught, as he still is in many schools, always to raise his voice in finishing a question, he finds it easy to do so in a case like this,“Will you go to dáy ? "_" Are they Hébrews ?” But when he comes to the indirect question, not answered by yes, or no, his instinct, as I have said before, rebels against the rule, and he spontaneously reads with the falling slide,
Why are you silent? Why do you prevàricate?” Now, in this latter case, if the usual mark of interrogation were inverted, (i) when its office is to turn the voice downward, it would be discriminating, and significant of its design.
Supposing the student to be already familiar with the common doctrine of punctuation, it is not my design to discuss it here; nor even to dwell upon the distinction between grammatical and rhetorical pauses. All that is necessary, is to remark distinctly, that visible punctuation cannot be regarded as a perfect guide to quantity, any more than to inflections. Often the voice must rest, where no pause is allowed in grammar; especially does this happen, when the speaker would fix attention on a single word, that stands as immediate nominative to a verb. As,
Prosperity gains friends, adversity tries them.