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LAUGHING-BREATH AND VOICE-SOUNDS-PRACTICE FOR EXPULSION OF
The effort of laughing is a valuable gymnastic exercise, and when moderately indulged in strengthens the vocal muscles, and much facilitates a healthy circulation of the blood, a good flow of genial spirits, and a happy disposition.
A good, round, full, hearty Ha-ha-hah is a delightful expulsion of sound, a stout enemy to the “blue devils,” and a far better remedy for dyspepsia than Graham-bread and tepid milk and water, with the condiment of woeful countenance. So, we will commence on the lowest line, right heartily, with a
3. HAH, HAH, hah! 2. HAH, Han, hah! 1. НАН, НАН, hah!
But even this must be indulged in with care and moderation at the commencement; for the lungs, diaphragm, and abdominal muscles, which are obliged to make strenuous exertions in this effort, are in most persons very weak. The complete exhaustion of air, consequent
, upon throwing out the breath, and the full, strong inhalation that follows, bring into requisition, for contraction and distension, the entire capacity of the muscles. Therefore discretion is necessary to guard against over-exertion at first. The unfortunate and hurtful fashions in clothing, and the various unnatural habits, have produced a weakness of these organs in our American youth. But we hope to laugh all artificial bandages and customs out of countenance; and we even dare to dream that the day will come when a sweet, clear, strong, perfectly-attuned voice may be considered one of the personal adornments.
The teacher should require the pupil to make selections from authors, or furnish compositions of their own, where laughing is introduced; which should be practiced until it becomes easy to give a seemingly spontaneous laugh whenever required.
Although it is an easy matter to laugh when one feels like it, it is not so easy to laugh at command. Simply repeating the words ha, ha, when the printed letters are seen, is not laughing. It will be well to employ the musical scale in this and other exercises, and when convenient practice with the aid of some musical instrument, running up and down the scale, giving two or three hearty ha-hahs on each note; but bear in mind this must be done with the laughing explosion, not with the singing effort. Then laugh the third, fifth, seventh, and back again, gaining all the varieties of exercises possible.
A sweet, musical laugh is always delightful to the ear, and sunshine and gladness follow in its wake. But we seldom hear it, and so seldom do we indulge in this healthful expression of joy or merriment, when we do lose our gravity sufficiently to give way to it, it amounts as a general thing to nothing more than a well-defined titter or giggle, which is disgusting in the extreme. While the little events of life make up the most of our joys and sorrows, let us cultivate those things that make ourselves and those around us happiest, and at the same time that will add most to our accomplishments.
The whispering exercise also must receive a great deal of practice, and in such a manner as will produce no unpleasant sensations in the throat. The breath must be husbanded with great care, and its expulsion be moderate and even, to enable the pupil to acquire the power of filling a large hall with a clear, smooth whisper. No fears need be entertained that too much attention can be paid to these breath-sounds; for it is only by properly regulated inhalations and exhalations that we can achieve the best results for the voice. To neglect this important first step, and expect to attain excellence, would be as futile as to attempt to run before the strength of the limbs had been tested by the act of walking. By carefully observing in these efforts the various movements of the muscles and the position of the organs, we learn what our resources are.
To make a breath-sound open wide the mouth and breathe out the word hah with as long and loud a whisper as can be produced.
This breath-sound vocalized is the material out of which all voicesounds are made, both of speech and song. We must conclude, from our experience in practicing this sound, that ha, produced by simply opening the mouth and breathing it out naturally, is the radical sound of language. We can not, with any degree of safety, declare that either the aspirate h or the vowel a hold any such position independently; for if we utter a sound in breathing without an attempt at forming words, it will partake of this aspirate and the vowel a, as
in ah. Therefore if this is a primitive sound, it is so only by the perfect union of the aspirate and vowel.
Persons laboring under the weight of some great affliction, or who are depressed with sorrow, give expression to their feelings by sighing the sound hah. Sometimes it is aspirated and sometimes voiced.
If very heavy and drowsy, they yawn and gape out the Ha-haha-ha- If boisterously merry, they laugh with explosive force the Ha-hah-hah-hah. And the infuriated wild animal slightly compresses the glottis, and with set teeth trills, in a rough growl, over his tongue the Hammmmmh hammh.
It is important in practicing the prolonged expulsive sounds that they be measured by keeping time. When several persons are practicing together they should preserve unity by expelling the sounds on the same tone and in the same measure. This can be done in
of the usual ways, or by dropping the finger an inch for the first beat, another inch for the second beat; then by raising it one inch for the third beat, and another for the fourth one; occupying a whole, half, or quarter of a second for each motion, according to intention and desired effect.
First make the breath-sound one measure long; then condense it in a voice-sound for one more measure; then give another measure for the breath-sound; closing the last with the voice-sound. The time can be prolonged by an additional number of beats, as strength and facility in prolongation are gained.
To acquire the habit of taking the quantity of breath necessary, and also to gain the control over the muscles of respiration that will allow of making two prolonged aspirate and two voice-sounds with one breath, is attended with more difficulty than is supposed. The experiment, however, will convince us that hard work and persistent efforts will be required.
It will be well for the pupil to observe this distinction of breath and vocal-sounds; for herein lies the secret of successful elocution. As before stated, out of the breath-sounds we make all the aspirates in our language, and by converting breath into voice-sound we make all the vowel and subvowel-sounds.
Practicing the expulsion of breath, vocalized or unvocalized, in a given length of time is one of the best methods of gaining that desired strength, depth, and clearness of tone that makes us masters of the voice on all occasions. Therefore we ask that practice be bestowed on this sound of ah until it can be obtained prolonged, clear,
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.”
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 a. d 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.
"bady 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,
a 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.