« AnteriorContinuar »
and strong enough to fill the room. This exercise must be repeated many times to enable us to make the sound easily and musically; and though we never use these prolonged sounds in conversation, they are very essential as vocal gymnastics. It will be readily inferred that to the singer and public speaker such exercises are of incalculable benefit.
The sigh, which occurs in some compositions, expressive of great grief and despair, when repeated—as, ah, ah, ah-should not be given on the same pitch, but with a full expression, in vocalized breath, in the minor key, falling a half tone on each; as,
In that exquisite poem by Mrs. Browning, the “Mother and Poet," which is full of broken-hearted grief, this peculiar sighing occurs; and if not properly expressed the poem loses its force.
"Tell his mother. Ah, ah, "his,' 'their mother,-not 'mine.'
No voice says ‘My mother' again to me." .. (Minor) “Ai-ah-ah, when Gaeta's taken, what then?
When the fair, wicked queen sits no more at her sport,
Have cut the game short?",
Sighing is an emotional effort, sometimes expressing simple weariness, sometimes a lover's passion, but frequently it is the utterance of a great grief that does not express itself in words. All of these phases should be studied if the pupil desires to give a full and satisfactory rendering of the various thoughts and emotions with which the broad field of literature is diversified. Much observation and critical discrimination must be brought to bear in the practice of elocution. Every phase of human feeling should be studied as it expresses itself in the trials ad experiences of life. We have given some examples in ah (or more properly, ha.) We hear this frequently expressed in 0, oh, ho. Sometimes we call it groaning or moaning. Little thought has been given to these audible upheavings of the swelling heart. O, oh, is more indicative of personal pain, the anguish of self-remorse; while ah, ah, expresses hopeless grief caused by outside affliction.
"hady Macbeth—Here's the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh! oh! oh! Doctor—What a sigh is there! The heart is sorely charged."
A sigh, when it emanates from the lover's breast, is expressive of the sweetest, tenderest sensibility. Moore immortalized this emotional breath by making it one of the three offerings which the beautiful and sorrowing Peri presented at the gates of Paradise-hoping it was the gift most dear to heaven which would gain her entrance within its golden portals. She watches the tender devotion of a beautiful maiden, who is breathing out her life in one long, loving kiss on the dead lips of her affianced husband.
""Sleep,' said the Peri, as softly she stole
The farewell sigh of that vanishing soul,
THE PHILOSOPHY OF VOCALIZATION-THE LARYNX-THE VOICE-SPEECH
LANGUAGE-THE ALPHABET_THREE DISTINCT CLASSES OF LETTERS.
It is not deemed necessary to encumber these pages
engravings exhibiting the anatomical construction of the vocal and articulating organs, while such are already within the reach of any person who will take the pains to open any work on physiology. Every body possesses in perfection the instrument in which voice-sound is made. So wonderful and elaborate is it in construction, so delicate in its proportions, that for ages it has both puzzled and stimulated the ingenuity of man to construct something that would approximate to its tones.
Physiologists have named this vocal pipe the larynx, which forms a portion of the respiratory channel, and is not three inches in length perhaps; and they have given us many elaborate theories to sustain their own ideas as to what kind of an instrument the human larynx
Aristotle and Galen, and the older writers in general, looked upon the larynx as a wind-instrument of the flute kind. Fabricius was among the first to object to this view of the subject.
It is stated that about the commencement of the last century Dodart laid before the Academy of Sciences of Paris three memoirs on the theory of the voice, in which he considered the larynx to be a wind-instrument of the horn and not of the flute kind. Ferrein, in a communication also made to the Academy of Sciences, maintained that the larynx is a stringed instrument-each giving what seemed to him plausible arguments to sustain his theory. At a later period, even to the present day, a large number of physiologists regard the larnyx as a wind-instrument of the reed kind, such as the clarionet or hautboy.
We have given quite a variety of opinions, sufficient to show that the larynx is considered by men of science quite a complicated instrument. We shall differ from them in one essential point, which is that it is not like any of the aforesaid instruments; but the degree of likeness of each is to be placed on the instruments that most fully imitate the qualities of the voice; for the larynx is the king of instruments—the grand model, fashioned by the Divine hand, animated by a presiding spirit, stamped with the seal of perfection, and which man must be ever content to imitate without the hope of equaling. The crowning excellence of all inventions must ever lie in their nearness of approach to its wonderful capacities. Yet it is a delicate little instrument, nicely packed away out of sight-a miniature affair, too common to be appreciated, because every person is in possession
Many long years are required, and freely given, to enable persons to achieve excellence in performing on musical instruments, and many years of valuable time are spent in acquiring a knowledge of the dead languages, and also to master the orthography of our own—an orthography which we might reasonably wish were dead; while the animating and vitalizing spirit of our own tongue—the sweet musical tones of speech, the delightful avenue of expression through which the tenderest and best of life's joys are exchanged—is neglected and abused, without the slightest compunctions of conscience. Had we cultivated voices, music would flow from human lips in speech as well
as in song, and the pleasure of social intercourse would be enhanced tenfold.
The little vocal pipe wherein voice-sound is produced forms a portion of the respiratory channel, and its entire management comes under the control of respiratory and muscular action.
We inhale air and exhale breath. We can do so for an indefinite period of time and produce no sound; but by volition, so simple we are scarcely conscious that we make it, this breath ripples with sound freighted with thought. Music, the emotions and passions, the tones of tenderness and love, and the shrieks of fear, are borne on its invisible wings.
By what process is this achieved? Why do we make one breath without sound and the next one vocal with ideas? How does it become a motive power of communication from person to person ? We may sit in a vast church filled with human beings—breathing creatures—and a death-like silence prevail. One single voice bursts forth in song and the atmosphere is filled with sound, the whole superstructure seems alive with melody, and all the delicious variety and sweetness of tones are made by air-waves caused by breath playing on the vocal chords.
It is said that the voice is an effort of volition; so it is, and so also are all the efforts we make. But the place and manner of producing voice-sounds are matters of some importance to those who have weak voices, or are suffering from bad management or loss of voice.
To explain, in the simplest manner possible, how voice is produced, we will say that by volition the chords at the bell-like cavity of the larynx contract so as to collect and retain in the larynx the exhaling column of air, and the expulsion of this concentrated breath plays on the vocal chords, causing their vibration. The principle is that of the Eolian harp. The waves of air sent rapidly out through the mouth produce a sound we call voice, and all sounds made in this way are denominated voice-sounds. Perhaps the nearest thing we can refer to toward illustrating the manner in which the vocal chords contract, and at the same time to show the power which the concentrated breath displays when forced through a small aperture, and its susceptibility of modulation into a great variety of tones, is the act of whistling. The flexibility and contractility of the lips in some persons is truly wonderful, but of course not so much so as in the chords of the glottis. In the whistling act there is wanting the bell or round-shaped cavities of the mouth and larynx to give resonance to the vibrations.
It will be observed that much talk is frequently indulged in about chest-tones and head-tones, to designate the grave and acute sounds. All this is simply absurd, as all voice-sounds are made in the same place-neither in the head nor in the chest, but in the glottis, by the vibrations of the chordæ vocales, before referred to.
There are a given number of vibrations in each note of the scale or gamut, and the pitch of a sound always depends upon the number of air-waves or vibrations which produce it. These determine the tone, and any variation in number changes the pitch. The range of voice, in degree from high to low, depends upon the ability one has of contracting and relaxing the vocal chords. The fewer the vibrations the graver the sound, and vice versa. Loudness of voice depends upon the extent of the vibrations, and these again will depend altogether upon the quality of the air and the force with which it is driven through the larynx.
But the purity of tone depends upon the regularity or evenness of the air-waves. There is, however, what we denominate a pitch of voice which is peculiar to each one of us, and is as designative as any other individual characteristic. Every one finds that there is a range of tones on which it is easier or more natural to speak than on any other. This can not and should not be interfered with, although the greatest possible range above and below may be cultivated.
Speech is made of a great variety of vocal and breath-sounds; and by these sounds, joined or woven together into words and sentences, we convey our thoughts and feelings to each other. This we call artificial language, because it has been sanctioned by long use, and is agreed upon, and remains as yet the only systematic method by which, as human, intelligent beings, we converse and make known our desires. We also have symbols of these sounds, or a system of notation, by which we convey all these thoughts, desires, and emotions by what we denominate written language. This table of notation is with us the English alphabet, whose twenty-six letters, as before stated, are supposed to stand as symbols or representatives of the various sounds in the English language. Unfortunately, however, this table is sadly imperfect and fatal to any systematic method of orthography or pronunciation. For instance, we say that a has four regular sounds, which is an utter impossibility. The letter a could, with as much truth, stand as a representative of the sixteen vowel-sounds as for the four sounds it now symbolizes. The broad and short sound of a have no nearer similarity in sound to each other than they have to any other vowel-sound. This want of a distinct character for each