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throat contraction, by nasality, by a stiff tongue, by rigid jaws, by set lips, and by breathiness.
24. Throat contraction. When the mouth is open for speech or song, the jaw should drop largely of its own weight as it does in a yawn. No great muscular effort should be made to pull it down. Such effort is one of the most common forms of throat contraction. Speaking in a key above or below the normal pitch of the voice is another source of throat contraction. Do not strain the voice beyond its proper range. Speaking louder than is natural is a third source of throat strain, especially when the voice is pitched too high. Regulate the volume of your voice to your vocal capacity. Faulty practice, tight collars, nervousness, embarrassment, and other minor matters may contribute to a tightened throat and the resultant throatiness of tone.
Try to overcome throat contraction by the removal of its cause, whatever that may be. In practicing the exercises think to keep the throat free and open and relaxed.
25. Nasality. A second hindrance to clearness is nasality. Nasality is caused by an abnormal physical condition or by faulty handling of the palate. The palate is the damper (See Fig. IV.) which determines how much breath or tone shall go into the nose and how much into the mouth. If the muscles controlling the palate do not operate normally, as in the condition of partial paralysis frequently following diphtheria, the palate may be allowed to hang too far forward and thus direct
too much tone into the nasal cavity. Any nasal obstruction may likewise produce a nasal tone,adenoids, spurs, cold in the head. Such conditions reduce clearness and should be remedied. Absence of muscular dexterity in the tongue, jaws, and lips is a third source of hindrance to clearness. These organs should be so trained that they do not offer undue obstructions to vocal sounds. Learn to open the jaws and to speak with flexible tongue and lips. Exercises already given for the vowel sounds will aid in this. So will later exercises for consonantal sound.
26. Breathiness. A third cause of obscurity is breathiness. When a clear tone is produced the edges of the vocal cords are close together. If for any reason they become separated while a tone is being produced, too much breath is allowed to escape and the tone is breathy. If the cords are widely apart the result is a whisper. To correct such a tone the breath must be controlled so that only just enough air is forced between the vocal cords to produce the tone desired. Intelligent effort to regulate the supply of forced breath will remove the breathy quality from the voice.
While the exercises prescribed in this book will help to produce clearness of tone, it may be necessary at the beginning to obtain the help of a competent teacher of the voice, for here imitation may most quickly and surely induce correct tone formation.
27. A voice, should be agreeable. Sounds that are displeasing or offensive should be
carefully eliminated. Some of these are the nasal and throaty tones already mentioned; others are shrill, whining, querulous, thick, muffled, gruff, grunting, etc. The voice is, and should be, an index of the personality of the speaker; it is always so considered by those who hear it. One should, therefore, eliminate from the voice those qualities likely to impress a listener disagreeably. If one does not wish to be thought a fault-finder, a scold, a dolt, or a pig he should not talk like one. 28. Exercise for tone quality.
Breathe deeply. b. Softly hum m-m-m with the lips closed. Try not to make the tone either hard or nasal, but let it vibrate all through the resonators. If properly done this exercise will relax the muscles used in producing the voice and will reduce interference. The humming will be most effective if it is in short, quick sounds, rather than long, sustained ones. The more of such practice of humming the better.
C. When a soft, clear, resonant hum (with the lips closed) is mastered, let the lips part slightly. This will produce the sound mee. Practice this sound softly at first, then with increasing volume. Gradually let the mouth open wider so that the tones i—ay—uh, and finally ah are added.
d. With the ah once established, the work of developing the voice is well started. Any attempt to force a beginning from a contracted ah will only bring trouble and delay. The tone must be a free and relaxed one.
Note: Practically all voice culture begins with an open, relaxed ah sound, and this sound must be established correctly. The reasons are apparent; it is the widest, freest of all tones; it is the one first uttered; it is common to all languages; its position is between the elongated open oo and the flattened ee. It is not difficult to work from the ah position to any other. It is necessary, therefore, to know how to make the ah sound well. Practice the exercise for it frequently. Sound it at the most comfortable pitch, softly at first, and in the freest, easiest way possible. Keep it forward out of the throat and down out of the nose, and do not obstruct it by teeth or lips. The help of an instructor may be necessary; if so, get it. It will be hard to go forward in voice work until you can make a good ah.
29. Exercise. Having established an ah of satisfactory quality somewhere in the middle voice, say at a below middle c of the treble scale, try to make the note next above and the one next below in the same position and with the same quality, thus:
Use plenty of breath. Make the tones slow, smooth, steady, and uniform. Let one note slur into the next with little change except in pitch. Repeat frequently,
30. Exercise. This exercise is to be done in the same way as the previous one.
31. Exercise. Continue to extend the range of the ah up and down the scale until an octave of eight full notes is covered. Practice scales and
arpeggios, and octaves, using the ah sound, until it can be produced well on each tone. This should be a daily exercise.
The ah sound under control, the next step will be to extend the practice to the other primary sounds.