Billeder på siden


Of the Interval of the Fifth.

The radical and vanishing Fifth, like the octave, is used for interrogation and for emphasis ; but has, however, less of the smart inquisitiveness which is implied by this last interval. It is the most common mode of interrogative intonation ; and may convey a question with sentiments of wonder and admiration. It has none of the flippancy of the octave; is equally capable of energy, and is always more dignified in its appeal. The explanatory remarks in the last section, on the subject of the change of radical pitch, in interrogation and emphasis, apply to the like uses of the fifth. That is, in interrogative sentences, after the voice has made a discrete change by radical pitch, through the interval of a fifth, the succeeding melody may continue at its elevation, till again brought down for the purpose of a new concrete rise : and after the use of the fifth for emphatic distinction on a single word, the pitch immediately returns to the original line of the current melody.

From the preceding account of the intonation of the octave and of the fifth, we learn that their effects are cognizable under two different modes—the concrete rise, and the radical change; that the former of these modes is impressed more remarkably on the ear; and that the distinction between the interrogative and emphatic use of these intervals, consists in the difference of the number of syllables, to which these intervals are applied.

It was said that the intonation of the octave, whether by concrete or by radical pitch, is rarely employed; since a rise of eight notes above the ordinary line of utterance carries most speakers into the falsette. And even with those in whom the rise might not exceed the natural voice, the melody when suddenly changed to that height would often be ludicrous, from contrast ; or would be in danger of breaking into the falsette in its variations ; or would be beyond the limits of the speaker's skilful execution. These objections do not apply to an occasional use of radical pitch through the ascent of the fifth ; the variation being less striking in contrast, and the interval of a fifth above the common range of the voice being rarely beyond practicable management.

Besides the above described uses of the octave and fifth, there are, in common life, some cant modes of exclamation, and other familiar and vulgar voices which are made on these intervals. I omit further notice of them.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

The concrete Third, like the two last named intervals, is used in asking a question, and in the intonation of emphasis. But the strength of its indication is less than the fifth. It is merely the sign of simple interrogation, in its most moderate degree; and carries with it none of those sentiments which, jointly with the question, were allotted to those other movements.

Besides the exceptions to the rule of the plain diatonic melody, in the use of the octave and fifth, it must now be added, that the general current of the tone is further varied, by the introduction of the interval of the concrete third, and by the change of radical pitch through the extent of this interval. It is more frequently used than either of the two former; for, although it is more rarely employed than the fifth, in interrogation, it is the most common form of emphatic intonation. In pointing out the phrases of melody, it was said, that the rising tritone, or upward succession of three radicals, on as many syllables, is occasionally employed. Now by the nature of the scale, three radical places contain the interval of a third : it is therefore the union of the constituents of a tritone, rejecting the vanish of the last, that makes the proper concrete third. This concrete as regards interrogative effect, is more impressive than the discrete rise of the radicals; for if the phrase Go you there,' be uttered with the rising tritone, or one syllable successively a tone in its radical pitch above the preceding, with a downward vanish on each, it will have the character of an imperative sentence. But if the first word should move through the space of the tritone by a concrete rise, and the two others should be uttered at the top of that concrete, the effect would be interrogative, notwithstanding both might bear the downward vanish.—The same would be the case if the second word had the concrete, and the last the radical change; or, if the two former were to have the common diatonic melody, and the last alone the concrete rise. These would be the different processes for effecting the interrogative expression, according as the sense might require the emphasis on different words.

There is a mode of replication in common speech, especially used by the Scots, consisting of a repetition of the affirmative yes, or aye, in the radical and vanishing third ; and whilst the words seem to pay the courtesy of assent, the interrogative nature of the intonation still insinuates the hesitation of doubt or surprise. Should the sentiment which dictates these words be of unusual energy, the expression will assume the form of the fifth, or octave.

When the reader will hereafter have acquired the prefatory knowledge which is necessary for the full comprehension of the nature of emphasis, it will be definitely explained, in what manner and on what occasions thè octave, the fifth, and the third, are employed, in this important function of correct and impressive speech. But it may belong to this place to remark, that as the emphasis which is given to the prominent words of concessive, conditional, and hypothetical sentences, carties with it, in a measure, the latent sentiment of an interrogatory, its application may properly be illustrated here. The following examples of conditionality and concession, call for a high interval on the words marked in italics.

[merged small][ocr errors]

Far heavier load thyself expect to feel
From my prevailing arm, though Heaven's king
Ride on thy wings.

So in the hypothesis of the following sentence:

If I must contend, said he,

Best with the best, the sender, not the sent. And the same with the exceptive phrase marked in these lines :

The undaunted fiend what this might be, admired;
Admired, not fear’d. God and his Son except,
Created thing naught valued he, nor shunn'd.

It is not the purpose to decide here, which of the high intervals is to be set respectively on the strong words of these examples. The citations were made, merely to show that the third or fifth, or octave, may be used on the emphatic syllables of such sentences.

The interval of the minor third, as we have seen in the first section, consists of one tone and a half. It has a plaintive expression, and is not, as far as I have observed, employed for any of those purposes of interrogation, conditionality or concession, which are here ascribed to the major third. The rare occasions of its use in speech will be mentioned hereafter.

It may perhaps be useful, in this place, for the reader to take a retrospect over the subject of melody, as it has thus far been described; and to look upon it as consisting of the diatonic phrases formerly enumerated, varied by the occasional introduction of the higher intervals of the octave, fifth, and third. In speaking of the melody of simple narrative, the radical changes of that style were reduced to seven elementary forms.

be thought that the further use of these higher intervals, in the transitions of pitch, justifies an additional nomenclature, for the phrases which are employed in expression. It does so ; and the phrase of the eighth, of the fifth, and of the third, when the transition is made by the radical skip, are the terms by which these new forms of melodial progression in speech may be respectively designated.

It may


Of the Intonation of Interrogative Sentences.

HAVING ascribed the powers of interrogation to the octave and fifth and third, 1 defer, for a moment, the history of the remaining elements of pitch, in order to point out the mode of employing those intervals, in the course of an interrogative sentence; that we may thereby learn how they are related both to its current melody and cadence.

With a view to exhibit the forceful effect of the interrogative intervals, when unsupported by those grammatical constructions which generally indicate a question, let us take the following sentence:

Give Brutus a statue with his ancestors.

This sentence is significative of an intention to honor the patriot, and is imperative in that purpose. But if the versatile plebeian should, the next moment, have a new light of discernment, he might deny the tribute, by repeating the very words of the decree, with the sneering intonation of a question

Give Brutus a statue with his ancestors ?

The different modes of the voice in these two instances, would be perceptible to every hearer: nor could the altered intention of the speaker, in the last case, be mistaken. The conspicuous effect of this line, when read in the latter way, proceeds from the use of the rising interval of the fifth on each of the syllables ; and it shows the power of that rise in changing an imperative to an interrogative expression. I say, the interval is used either concretely or by a radical change, on each syllable of the sentence. In this way the question is completely and strongly conveyed; for should the fifth be employed upon every word except the last, and should this be


« ForrigeFortsæt »