Imagens das páginas

The following monologue (which Sir Walter Scott put in the mouth of Bertram, as descriptive of what that terrible outlaw wished his own death to resemble) is given here as an example. Bertram was a tyrannical and brutal character, showing compassion to none, but ruling all over whom he could gain the least advantage with a rod of iron. He wished his life to have an ending which would comport with his fearless career.

5. “And now,—my race-of terror-run,
6. Mine-be the eve—of tropic sun;
6. No pale gradations-quench his ray,
5. No twilight(7)—dew8—his wrath allay:
4. With(5) disk (3)like battle target-red,
6. He rushes—ť his burning bed;
5. Dyes the wide wave—with bloody(6) light;
3. Then sinks—(2)at once,-and all is—(1)NIGHT.”,


mine-be the eve--of tropic sun; And now,-my race-of terror-run,

5 4 3

-dews-his wrath-allay :No pale gradations-quench his ray,

-no twilight

he rushes--this burning bed ;

-like battle target-red,

light; Dyes the wide wave-with bloody

4 3

then sinks-
at once-and all is-


Catiline. ** Banish'd from Rome?- What's banish'd—but set free

From daily contact with the things I loathe?
Tried and convicted-traitor!' Who says this?

Who'll prove it, at his peril, on my head?
BANISH'D– I thank you for 't. It breaks my chains -
I held some slack allegiance till this hour;-
But now my sword 's my own. Smile on, my lords!
I scorn to count what feelings,—wither'd hopes,-
Strong provocations,-bitter,-burning-wrongs-
I have within my heart's hot cells shut up--
To leave you—in your lazy_dignities.
But here I stand and scoff you; here I fling
Hatredand full defiance in your face.-
Your Consul's merciful. For this, all thanks.
He dares not touch-a hair of Catiline."


PAUSES, MODULATION, AND PROLONGATION. All the preceding knowledge gained on these subjects must be put in practice on these exercises. The numbers indicate the modulation of voice required, as explained before by the use of lines and spaces. It will be well for the teacher to write these and similar passages on the blackboard for concert practice, as this will allow the class personal freedom for the


of gesture. (6)“What a piece of work—is man! how noblein (5)reason! how infinitein (6) FACULTY! in (4) form—and (5) moving—how (6) express and admirable!in action how—like an angel !-in apprehension how—(1) like a god!”

NOTE.-The last "how" must receive the upward, concrete slur of three notes (4,5,6); the voice then falling to the 1st, by a discrete movement, on the word "like," finishing the climax in a half-whisper.

“My JUDGMENT—approves this measure, and my whole heart-is in it: all that I have,(4)—all that(5) I am,-and all that(6) I HOPE-in this life,(5) I am now ready(4) here-to stake upon it;—and I leave offas I began; th’t(4) sinkor swim,(5) LIVE-or DIE, SURVIVE(6)—or PERISH,—(7)I am for the Dec

(4)It is my living sentiment, and, (2)—by the blessing of God,—(4) it shall be my dying sentiment. (5) Independence—(6) now—and independence (9) FOREVER.”

The first essential qualification for becoming a good speaker, reader, or singer, is good breathing. It is a solemn fact that one half the civilized world knows not how to respire. All infants breathe properly; but natural inflation is soon squeezed out of them. Air is very well for animals, but is too common and vulgar for refined humanity. A little air is all—a little short breath to flutter and pant with makes a deliciously-interesting condition of health. It is so exquisite to be too delicate to sing, and too feeble to read or converse.

Very false notions have hitherto prevailed with regard to the importance of the uses of bodily functions. It is time that there should

[ocr errors]


be an earnest protest instituted against any neglect of them. They were given us as instruments and means of expressing the high, noble, and almost infinite faculties with which our Creator has been pleased to endow us, and should be reverently and wisely preserved and used for the purposes for which they were designed. People who squeeze all the breath they can out of their lungs should never attempt to sing praises to the name of God "with voice and cornet,” for they can not do it. That which was breathed into our nostrils, and made us living souls, must have an abiding place; and if we give it not room, how can we thank or praise him while refusing to accept freely and fully this first gift of life?

There are certain muscles used in the act of breathing that must be strong and flexible, else the process of respiration is very imperfect, the blood is not vitalized, and a general debility and disease is the result. Those to which we shall call special attention are the diaphragm and the abdominal muscles. If these are weak and inactive the person is incapable of drawing a full breath and expelling it with adequate force; and under these circumstances it will be out of the question for a speaker to properly economize and utilize his breath. He will suffer from fatigue, and be wanting in evenness and purity of tone, and fail entirely in becoming impressive.

The diaphragm is an exceedingly elastic muscle, dividing by its grand arch the lungs above from the stomach below. It is sometimes spoken of as “the floor of the lungs and the roof of the stomach.” When this muscle is strong and under good control it contracts and expands with great power. In the process of inhaling breath it should contract so as to allow the lower air-cells of the lungs to become fully inflated with air. This motion acts on the stomach, and by its downward pressure on the abdominal muscles produces an expansion. In exhaling breath these motions are reversed. And this beautiful, harmonious contraction and expansion of the muscles not only cause a vitalization of the blood, but incite the stomach to activity and the viscera to healthy conditions, and render them all efficient co-operators in the act of speaking. Indeed, if proofs are wanted in regard to the use of these lower muscles, we may derive instruction from observation of the animals in their expulsion of voice-sounds. Observe the cow, how her flanks expand and contract, and what tremendous expulsions of sound she makes, when bellowing for her lost youngling.

The majority of persons breathe by taking as small a quantity of air as possible into the upper portion of the lungs. If asked to take

a deep breath, they will inhale what air they can, raise the shoulders, expand the diaphragm, press it up against the lower portions of the lungs, thereby preventing any possibility of this vitalizing element entering that region. And they will hold this breath in the upper part of the respiratory organs as long as they can, distending and straining them to their utmost capacity. This they call deep breathing; but the human organism in a normal condition of respiration never makes such spasmodic exertions. Deep breathing is quite a different process, and requires an opposite muscular movement. As before stated, in the act of inhaling breath the diaphragm should contract and the abdominal muscles expand, leaving room for the lower cells of the lungs to become perfectly inflated. Then when the return action of these muscles takes place there is a goodly quantity of breath out of which to produce sound; and these friendly muscles are in a proper condition and position to hold and control the expulsion of breath, make the vibrations even and the sounds pure. In the method first referred to the muscles have already done their best in sending the air into the upper cells. The contraction is already com

. pleted, and they are unprepared to assist the laryngeal chords in controlling the voice-sounds. Besides, the unnatural forcing of air into the upper part of the respiratory organs, straining and distending them, and the rapid expulsion of this concentrated column of breath, passing out by mere force of its accumulation, excite undue activity of the vocal chords and often cause their paralysis and a consequent loss of voice. In all cases it renders them disobedient to the will; the vibrations are uneven and the voice-sounds imperfect. Stammering, weak throats, and bronchial affections are the results most common. Indeed, the amount of labor thrown upon the laryngeal chords to perform without sufficient air, and without the friendly co-operation of the dorsal and abdominal muscles, is appalling. And the discordant, rating, rasping, screeching, sounds produced in consequence are enough to drive one mad with torture.

To convey the ideas of the human mind, its emotions, its shades of thought, requires a variety of vocal efforts. At times, loud and strong tones - again, high and piercing ones — and again, delicate inflections and soft intonations are necessary.

All these subtle movements of the chords and muscles should be of the nicest and most delicate order, or the voice utterly fails to give such expression as the mind desires. Certain means must be used to produce certain desired results. Therefore it will be seen that a full, natural respiration is the first essential qualification for producing a good voice. It is not

to be understood that good breathing is all that is necessary; but without a full expansion of the lungs, and a perfect control of the muscles used in respiration, there can not be lasting resonance and beauty of voice.

The ancient teachers of vocal culture, called plonasei or vocists, in order to develop strength of voice in their pupils, carried them through a severe course of training of all the chords and muscles used in breathing and speaking. How well they understood the co-operation of the diaphragm and the abdominal muscles with the vocal apparatus, and the importance of their strength and flexibility, is shown by their compelling their pupils to lie on their backs with weights on their chests, and to declaim while walking, running, and climbing.

We know but faintly what wonderful power, flexibility, and sweetness of voice we are capable of cultivating. The silver voice of Cicero and the thunder-tones of Demosthenes echo through centuries and encourage us to labor for perfection. A speaker with a strong, magnetic voice comes before his audience clothed with power. There is nothing so inspiring; it gives weight to thought and enforces argument. All great orators and tragedians have possessed great force and resonance in this wonder-working instrument. It is said that Garrick could speak with ease to ten thousand people. Let any one seriously contrast the full, round, healthful voice with a sick, feeble, squeaking one, and he will be willing to work faithfully for the better one.

INFLUENCE OF POETRY AND MUSIC. As the tendency of poetryis to exalt the thought, so that of music is to exalt the affections. As the aspirations of the poet are to raise the mind to higher flights and sentiments, so those of the musician are to elevate it to higher — and fuller exaltation of the emotions. We read poetry for the former, and resort to music for the latter; and in vocal music both effects are produced if the means—are adapted to the end. Poetry in its external form should be expressed in language that implies the elevation of the sentiments, and be composed in rhythmical or metrical lines. Music-in its outward form is a composition of varied sounds or tones, expressed in such style as to imply the elevation of the affections, and composed in rhythmical proportion. What poetry is——to thought, music is—to feeling. As in painting or in sculpture we speak of the “poetry of form,so music may be called the poetry of sound; and, internally, the poetry of feeling and emotion. How sad it is—to think of its being perverted and made the servant or slave to the lower passions!

STAMMERING is sufficiently common to require no description here, further than to say it is a hesitation or interruption of speech. It presents a variety of forms. In some cases the stammerer makes an

« AnteriorContinuar »