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In our attempt to imitate nature it is important to avoid affectation, for, to this fault, even perfect monotony is preferable.
To improve the voice in all these respects, practice is necessary. To increase its compass or range of notes, commence, for example, with the lowest pitch the voice can comfortably sound, and repeat whole paragraphs and pages upon that key. Then rise one note higher, and practice on that, in the same way, then another, and so on, until the highest pitch of the voice is reached. The strength of the voice may be increased in the same way, by practicing with different degrees of loudness, from a whisper to full rotundity, taking care to keep the voice on the same key. The same note in music may be sounded loud or soft. So, also, a sentence may be pronounced on the same pitch with different degrees of loudness. Having practiced with different degrees of loudness on one key, make the same experiment on another, and then on another, and so on. It will be found, that the voice is capable of being changed and improved by exercise and practice to a much greater degree than is generally supposed.
QUESTIONS.What is meant by the key note? Is this the same at all times, and in all individuals? What circumstances cause it to differ? is meant by compass of voice? Under what circumstances is this range great? When is it small? If too high a key note be selected, what is the consequence? If the note be too low, what danger is there? What is the rule on this subject? What is monotony ? What are the evils arising from this fault? What other faults of tone are mentioned ? What manner of reading poetry is mentioned ? How are these faults to be corrected? What is said with regard to varying the tones in quality or expression? What is said of the reading of dialogues, &c? Repeat the second Rule. What must be guarded against in attempts to imitate nature? How may the voice be improved in compass? How, in strength?
I. NATURE OF INFLECTIONS.
INFLECTIONS are slides of the voice upward or downward. Of these there are two. One is called the rising inflection, in which the voice slides upward, and is marked thus ('); as, Did you walk'? The other is called the falling inflection, in which the voice slides downward, and is marked thus (`); as, I did not walk'. They are both exhibited in the following question: Did you walk', or did you ride'? In pronouncing the word walk' in this question, the voice slides upward. On the contrary, the voice slides downward, in pronouncing the word ride'. This is sometimes exhibited in the following way of writing the words:
It is important that these inflections should
be familiar to the ear of the learner. In the following questions, the first member has the rising, and the second member, the falling inflection.
Is he sick', or is he well?
Is he young', or is he old'?
Did he act properly, or improperly' ? *
In the following answers to these questions, the inflections are used in a contrary order, the first member terminating with the falling, and the second, with the rising inflection.
He is well, not sick'.
He is young', not old'.
I said statue', not statute'.
He acted properly', not improperly'.
These slides of the voice are sometimes very slight, so as to be scarcely perceptible, but at other times, when the words are
* These questions and similar ones, with their answers, should be repeatedly pronounced with their proper inflections, until the distinction between the rising and falling inflection is well understood and easily made by the learner. will be assisted in this, if he emphasize strongly the word inflected; thus, Did you ride', or did you walk'?
pronounced in an animated tone, and strongly emphasized, the voice passes upward or downward, through several notes. This will readily be perceived, by pronouncing the above questions or answers with a strong emphasis.
QUESTION S.-What are inflections? How does the voice slide in the rising inflection ? How, in the falling? Explain their use in the question given as an example. Explain the different inflections, in the questions, commencing with, " Is he sick', or is he well?" Explain them, in the answers to these questions. Are these inflections always very plainly perceived? When are they most readily perceived?
II. FALLING INFLECTION.
RULE I. The falling inflection is generally proper, wherever the sense is complete; as,
Truth is more wonderful than fiction'.
Men generally die as they live'.
By industry, we obtain wealth'.
The falling of the voice at the close of a sentence is sometimes called a cadence and properly speaking, there is a slight difference between it and the falling inflection, but for all practical purposes they may be considered as one and the same. It is of some importance, and requires attention to be able to close a sentence gracefully. The ear, however, is the best guide on this point.
Parts of a sentence often make complete sense in themselves, and in this case, unless qualified or restrained by the succeeding clause, or unless the contrary is indicated by some other principle, the falling inflection takes place, according to the rule; as,
Truth is wonderful', even more so than fiction'.
Men generally die as they live', and by their lives we must judge of their character'.
By industry we obtain wealth', and persevering exertion will seldom be unrewarded.
Exception.-When a sentence concludes with a negative clause, or with a contrast or comparison (called also antithesis), the first member of which requires the falling inflection, it must close with the rising inflection. See Rule VI, and 2§, Note. Examples: No one desires to be thought a fool'.
I come to bury' Cæsar, not to praise' him.
If we care not for others', we ought at least to respect ourselves'.
In bearing testimony to the general character of a man we say,
He is too honorable' to be guilty of a vile act'.
But if he is accused of some act of baseness, a contrast is, at once, instituted between his character and the specified act, and we change the inflections, and say,
He is too honorable' to be guilty of such' an act.
A man may say, in general terms,
I am too busy' for projects`.
But if he is urged to embark in some particular enterprise, he will change the inflections, and say,
I am too busy' for projects'.
In such cases, as the falling inflection is required in the former part, by the principle of contrast and emphasis, (as will hereafter be more fully explained,) the sentence necessarily closes with the rising inflection.
Sometimes also, emphasis alone, seems to require the rising inflection on the concluding word. See exception to Rule II.
Remark. As a sentence generally ends with the falling inflection, harmony and variety of sound seem to require, that the last but one should be the rising inflection. Such, in fact, is the very common custom of speakers, even though this part of the sentence, where the rising inflection would fall, should form complete sense. This principle may, therefore, be considered as sometimes giving authority for exception to the rule. This may be illustrated by the following sentence. If read according to the Rule, it would be inflected thus:
Hearken to thy father who hath cherished' thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old.
If read in accordance with the principle above stated, it would be inflected thus:
Hearken to thy father who hath cherished' thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old.
If the two words only, "cherished" and "old" are inflected, the latter perhaps would be the correct reading, but let the word "mother" be also inflected, and the two principles no longer conflict with each other. It would then be read as follows:
Hearken to thy Father who hath cherished' thee, and despise not thy mother' when she is old.
many cases, however, it may be necessary that one or the other of these principles should give way. Which of them should yield, in any given case, must depend upon the construction of the sentence, the nature of the style and subject, and often, upon the taste of the speaker.
RULE II.-Language which demands strong emphasis, generally requires the falling inflection.
Under this head may be specified the following particulars:
18. Command, or urgent entreaty; as,
Run' to your houses, fall upon your knees.
O save me, Hubert', save me; my eyes are out
2. Exclamation, especially when indicating strong emotion; as,
Oh, ye Gods'! ye Gods'! must I endure all this?
Hark! hark! the horrid sound
Hath raised up his head.
A present deity! they shout around,
A present deity'! the vaulted roofs rebound.
For remarks on the interrogatory exclamation, see Rule V,
38. In a series of words or members, where each particular is specified with some degree of emphasis, if it be a commencing series, the falling inflection is proper at each word or member, except the last, which must have the rising inflection; if it be a concluding series, the falling inflection is given to each word or member, except the last but one, which requires the rising inflection.
Examples of commencing series..
Wine', beauty', music', pomp', are poor expedients to heave off the load of an hour from the heir of eternity'.
Absalom's beauty', Jonathan's love', David's valor', Solomon's wisdom', the patience of Job', the prudence of Augustus', the eloquence of Cicero', and the intelligence of all', though faintly amiable in the creature, are found in immense perfection in the Creator'.