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Articulation, as dependent on the Minor Organs. A course of exercise and discipline should be practised, next, on the various classes of consonants which call into action the minor, or smaller organs of speech, the palate, the tongue, the lips, &c. The requisite elementary exercises for this purpose, are arranged, at full length, in the “ Introduction” to this Reader, as well as in the manual on Orthophony. But classes or individuals who have not practised these exercises, will derive much benefit from the custom of daily pronouncing a few lines, from any reading lesson, in inverted order, so as to detach, for the moment, each word from its connection in the sense, and thus more easily and more precisely observe its component sounds. The exercise should be pursued thus: 1st, Begin at the last word in a line, sentence, or paragraph, and pronounce every word loudly, clearly, and distinctly, — by itself;—2d. Enunciate every syllable of each word, apart from another, with perfect precision, and distinctness ;- 3d, Articulate every letter, that is not properly a silent one, in each syllable or word. - In this way, the common tendency of young readers, to imperfect utterance and defective articulation, may, in a few weeks, be entirely overcome.
“ QUALITY” OF THE VOICE.
« Pure Tone."
WHEN the requisite attention has been given to obtaining a control over the organs of voice, and the character of vocal sounds, in enunciation, the next stage of practice is properly that which regards the quality” of the voice. The term, “quality,” in elocution, as in music, signifies, as formerly mentioned, the distinctive quality or property of the voice, which characterizes its sound in individuals, – somewhat as the peculiar sound of one species of musical instrument differs from that of another. Hence the poetic and descriptive epithets applied to different human voices, when we speak of agreeable ones being “bell-like,” “silver-toned,” “flute-like,” “flageoletsounding;” and of disagreeable ones being “clarinet-toned,” “ fiddlelike,” &c.
The appropriate "quality" of the human voice, is an effect produced by the due and proportioned action of all the organs. It consists in the full, even, and smooth sound, which musicians designate by the terms
“ pure tone.” This designation implies a figurative resemblance between perfectly formed, undisturbed sound, to the ear, and a perfectly pure or transparent substance to the eye; and the analogy is a very instructive one. The difference suggested to the mind, is that which exists between the water of a perfectly pellucid lake, and that of a muddy pool. As the one delights, and the other offends, the eye; so is it with vocal sound: pure tone soothes and pleases the ear; impure tone jars and grates it.
In perfectly "pure tone,” all the vocal organs blend their effect The sound issues directly and freely from the mouth, but carries with it the resonance of the chest and of the head, combined ; - the latter predominating: hence, the phrase "head tone,” is, in music, sometimes employed as synonymous with “pure tone.”
We shall find, on examination, that this property of voice is dependent, to a great extent, on the true position of the body; - the chest expanded and projected, - the head erect, - the throat and mouth freely opened, — all aided by a full supply of breath inhaled, but a gentle and equable emission of it. These conditions secure to the voice the resonance of the chest, the firmness of the throat, and the clearness and softness of the effect of the head and mouth, — all blending into one pure stream of round, smooth, even sound; or, - to compare the voice to an object of art, — it then becomes a pure, transparent, and crystalline sphere, perfectly free from impurities, projections, and inequalities.
Faults in the “ Quality” of the Voice. The common faults of vocal “ quality,” in young ladies, are the following, — all usually connected with incorrect postures of the body:
- 1st, the faint, hollow, murmuring, “ pectoral” voice, of feebleness, languor, reluctance, or negligence, — which seems pardonable in a sick student of the other sex; but, – unless in the utterance of deep and solemn emotion, in which case, it becomes a part of appropriate effect in “ expression," — it sounds unnatural and disagreeable in a female, and hinders every thing like appropriate effect in utterance.
2d, a hard, dry, barking effect; as if the throat had no pliancy, and the feelings of the individual no suavity; or a false, guttural swell, seeming to issue from the lower instead of the upper part of the windpipe, and causing an effect which is more or less disgusting to the ear. Such modes of utterance belong properly to impassioned and burlesque expression. Hence an additional reason why they should be avoided as inappropriate, on other occasions.
3d, the very common fault of a nasal twang, resembling the sound of the violin, when not skilfully played on, — an effect which can be tolerated only in humour and mimicry.
4th, a feeble and ineffectual voice, which seems to exist in the mouth alone, and derives no depth of sound from the chest, or firmness from the throat. This fault of quality renders all the tones of reading and of conversation light and trivial in their style. It is accordingly used, on the stage, as the appropriate tone of silliness or of affectation.
We see, by this analysis, that the faults of “impure tone” consist in exerting unduly one class of the vocal organs, at the expense of the rest. The wrong position or the disproportioned action of the muscles connected with the vocal organs, causes the sound of the voice to fall upon the ear as if it issued from the chest, the throat, the nose, &c., and has led to the designations of pectoral,” “ guttural," “ nasal,” and “oral” tones, as descriptive of the effect and characteristic of the “ quality" arising from errors in the position and action of the vocal organs. — These terms, it is to be understood, are used, in elocution, merely as convenient designations of faults; for, strictly speaking, the human voice is formed in the larynx only, — not in the circumjacent parts. The opening or the occlusion, however, of adjoining cavities, has necessarily an effect on the character of sound issuing from whatever source. — Hence, once more, the great importance of attending to the proper posture of the body, and the free play of the organs, in the exercise of reading. - A full, round, and agreeable voice depends, to a great extent, on the free opening of the mouth, by the due lowering of the under jaw, and the full raising of the veil of the palate. The former of these acts is necessarily attended by that opening of the ear-tubes, interiorly, which gives the voice the clear and pure resonance by musicians termed “head tone:” the latter produces that full, ringing, and ample effect, which, in elocution, is termed “orotund.” Free utterance requires, farther, in the acts of reading and speaking, a slight rounding and projection of the lips, to give the voice an emissive and projectile force.
“ Pure tone,” while it forms an indispensable property in the habitual sound of the voice, is one important element of effect, in “expression," — the modification of the voice under the influence of feeling or emotion. All subdued and softened “expression,” all quiet, gentle, and moderate forms of utterance, and the sustained voice and prolonged notes of calling, when the sound is meant to reach to a great distance, - require “pure tone,” as their natural language. The following exercises should be practised with strict reference to this quality. The extracts should be repeated till the command of a perfectly pure, smooth, and liquid utterance is fully attained.
1.-"SUBDUED," OR SOFTENED, FORCE
1. — PATHOS, including Tenderness, Compassion, and Pity, - together with Regret, Melan choly, and Grief and Sorrow, when gentle and not impassioned.
Exercise 1. — Tenderness.
[To an Infant.] Coleridge.
2. — Compassion.
[To an Aged Beggar.] Coleridge.
To clothe thy shrivelled limbs and palsied head.
That hang from thy white beard, and numb thy breast
3. — Pity.
[The Leper.] Willis.
Who met him on his way, — and let him pass.
The many whom he loved, nor she whose name
That lately sprang and stood
A beauteous sisterhood ?
The gentle race of flowers
With the fair and good of ours.
But the cold November rain
The lovely ones again.”
5. — Melancholy. [From Verses to a Departed Friend.] 0. W. B. Peabody.
“ The sun hath set in folded clouds,
Its twilight rays are gone;
The storm is rolling on.
The fainting spirit braves,