Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

it in the literal elements : have seen its influence in directing the phenomena of syllables : and measured its successions in melody. I have yet to show its instrumentality in the delicate work of expression: and if I shall be able thereby to resolve this marvellous mystery of nature, it will be by substituting that greater marvel of agency, in which a strict economy of means is employed for the production of her infinities.

The general affections of sound were described in the first section of this essay. In summary repetition, they are,Quality, or kind of sound; Time; Force or the variations of strength and weakness; Pitch or the variations of acuteness and gravity; and Abruptness. These distinctions are universally known.

A delicate perceptibility may easily learn that each of these genera of sound is inclusive of many species, with their different degrees; and that noticeable phenomena result from the combination of the different species of any one genus, with those of another. In the following series, some of the functions arising out of the five genera, and their mutual combinations, are enumerated by the adopted or the invented terms, under which they will be hereafter more particularly described. Quality,

Wave,
Time,

Tremor,
Melody,

Force,
Pause,

Radical stress,
Grouping,

Median stress,
Aspiration,

Vanishing stress,
Octave,

Thorough stress,
Fifth,

Compound stress,
Third,

Loud Concrete,
Semitone,

Accent,
Downward Concrete, Emphasis.
These are some of the heads of arrangement which I have
devised, for the purpose of opening the way for a fuller and
more definite account of the doctrine of expression: and I hope
the reader will find, in the detailed consideration of these ele-
ments, some approximation towards the development of this
interesting department of speech.

[ocr errors]

SECTION VIII.

of the Quality or Kind of Voice.

The Qualities of voice employed as the means of expression, are those of the Whispering, the Natural, the Falsette and the Orotund voices : and those varieties embraced by the common nomenclature of harsh, rough, soft, smooth, full, thin and slender.

There are certain conditions of thought, instinctively associated with appropriate species of these qualities. The whisper always denotes the intention of secrecy : the falsette is used for the emphatic scream of terror, pain and surprise : and the orotund voice alone gives satisfactory expression to the feeling of dignity and deliberation. The natural voice is accommodated to the moderate or lively sentiments of colloquial dialogue, and of familiar lecture and discourse. It is not necessary to particularize here, the sentiments which call for the harsh, soft, full and slender qualities of the voice. The history of their specific appropriation, in the art of reading, may be satisfactorily learned from the common books of professors.

Regarding these qualities as distributed among mankind, some voices are restricted to harshness, or to softness. Few persons have by nature, a pure orotund. Some speak altogether in a meagre falsette : and women are apt to use it in careless pronunciation. There are however few voices which may not, by diligent cultivation, be made capable of exhibiting all the above named qualities.

The elements of expression derived from the kind of voice, are not to be regarded solely in the simple and insulated light in which they are here represented. They are susceptible of combination with the various modes and degrees of force, time, piteh and abruptness. In short, quality of voice must necessarily be united with some of the degrees of the other genera. For whatever be the kind, it will be either strong or weak;

Q

its time must be long or short; its emission will be abrupt or gradual, and it must be of some definite radical or concrete pitch. Certain qualities of the voice are, however, exclusively congenial with particular conditions of these other accidents : thus smoothness will more generally affect the moderate degrees of force. Similar congenialities may be discovered by the slightest reflection.

It would be easy to select from authors and from familiar discourse, phrases or sentences that require respectively the kinds of voice here enumerated. But I designed originally, to limit the pages of this work, consistently with the intention of definite description; aiming to make known the hitherto untold elementary principles of speech, rather than to burthen the shelves of literature with compilation. There is no mode of diagram that can represent these qualities of sound : and every attempt to make them plainer than they already stand, in their metaphorical designation, would be without success.

SECTION IX.

of the Time of the Voice.

THE degrees of duration of the voice, represented by the terms long, short, quick and slow, are among the most effectual means of expression.

To be definite, let long and short designate the time of syllables relatively to each other; and let quick and slow refer to the utterance of any series or aggregate of words. Thus a syllable may be said to have a long or short time, or Quantity, as it is usually called in this case; and a phrase, an entire sentence or a larger portion of discourse may be said to be pronounced in quick or slow time. The occasions for employing these last modes of time are well known. Sentiments of dignity, deliberation, doubt and grief affect the slow time: those of gaiety, anger and eager argument, together with parenthetic phrases assume the quick time in utterance.

I find it necessary however to be more particular on the subject of the length and shortness of individual syllables, comparatively considered ; and to extend the analysis somewhat beyond the reach of ordinary prosodial distinctions.

The times of syllables exhibit undistinguishable shades of difference, from the shortest utterable to their utmost prolongation in oratorical expression. In order to reduce this indefinite view of time, to such distinctions as may serve for future reference, let us arrange syllables under three classes: the first embracing those which are fixed to the shortest quantity: the second, those that are fixed or nearly so, to a quantity of somewhat greater duration than that of the first : the third, those that in common pronunciation, are of various lengths, from the shortest to the longest, but which may be indefinitely extended.

To the first class belong many of those syllables terminated by an abrupt element; and containing a tonic, or an additional subtonic, or the further addition of an atonic, such as “at,'ap,' bek,' hap-less, pit-fall, ac-cep-tance. It is not the shortness alone of syllables which constitutes the criterion of this class; since some that belong to the third, are in common usage equally short. The syllables now under consideration, have this essential characteristic,—they can not be prolonged, but with deformed pronunciation. The word convict,' when accented on the first as a noun, and on the last as a verb, has in plain orthoepy, a certain quantity allotted to each syllable. If, for the purpose of oratorical expression, with the noun, the time of the first syllable is indefinitely increased, the identical character of the word still remains, notwithstanding that prolongation. But when we give the last syllable of the verb, a simi. lar extension, its pronunciation, is, through the drawling utterance, remarkably deformed. The syllables assigned to this first class, not admitting of any alteration in quantity, may be called Immutable syllables. I shall hereafter show their relations to the movements of pitch, and to the functions of accent and emphasis.

[graphic]

To the second class belong most of those syllables which terminate by an abrupt element, and which contain one or more subtonics or atonics, in union with a short tonic. The subtonics in this case give a greater length than belongs to the syllables of the preceding class; while the abrupt element and the short tonic prevent an indefinite prolongation. Of this class are 'yet,' 'what,' mate,' grat-itude,'des-truc-tion.' ln these instances the syllables are longer than the immutables ; and for the purpose of expression, the subtonics may be slightly extended beyond their natural length, in simple utterance. But if they should be unduly prolonged, something of the same offensive drawl of pronunciation will be perceived, which is experienced in the greatest degree from the forced extension of the immutable class. As those included under the present head admit of some change of quantity, they may be called Mutable syllables.

To the third class belong all those syllables which terminate with a tonic element, or with any of the subtonics, excepting b, d, and g. Of this nature are 'go,' thee,' for,' day,' man,' till,' de-lay,' be-guile,' ex-treme,' er-ro-neous.' If the speaker has a ready command over the subtonics b, d, and g, so as to give full audibility to their essential guttural murmur, their position, at the end of a syllable, does not absolutely prevent an indefinite prolongation, as in the words deed,' «plague,'" babe,' res-tored.' But the effect in these cases is by no means to be compared with that of an extension of time upon tonics and other subtonics. In the above pure examples of this class, it will be found, that to whatever necessary degree the quantity may be prolonged, the character of the syllable will still be preserved, without any of that disagreeable effect, which is produced by an indefinite increase of time, under the preceding classes. It is the peculiar nature of these syllables, that they seem to be the same under every degree of duration ; while the immutable and mutable, in some cases almost lose their identity by too great an addition to their time. From their allowable variety, the syllables of this class may be said to be of indefinite quantity; or may be called Indefinite syllables. They furnish important means for the ex

« ForrigeFortsæt »