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a long time before they employ the interrupted mode of expiration. The first speech of the child is by an apportionment of a single syllable to a breath. By a preparatory exercise in the interrupted jets of laughter and crying, the habit of perfect speech is acquired. The same kind of monosyllabic breath, that is employed in infant articulation, and in acquiring the orotund, occurs in the debility of extreme age, and in cases of exhaustion from disease: for here the utterance frequently consists of but one, or at most two syllables to an act of expiration. The condition is similar in panting from violent exercise; the voluntary power which governs the interrupted jets of expiration being lost in this case.
The orotund is possessed in various degrees of excellence by actors of eminence. The state of mere animal instinct in which they have been with regard to the uses of the voice, must convince us that they can have no systematic means for improving it. There is, however, one circumstance in theatrical speech, which may undesignedly produce in the course of time, the full volume and sonorous quality of the orotund. I mean the practice of vociferating, which seems to be required, by the extent of the House, and by the poetical rant and bombast of what are called stock acting tragedies.' In addition, therefore, to the previously described means for acquiring the orotund, I shall, in a few words, point out a varied mode, suggested by the vehement efforts of dramatic recitation.
Let the reader make an expiration on the interjection "hah,' in the voice of whisper; using that degree of force which, with some motion of the chest, seems to drive all the air out of it. Now let the whisper in this process be changed to vocality. This vocality will have the hoarse fulness and sonorous quality of the orotund. It is the forcible exertion of this kind of voice which constitutes vociferation; for vociferation is the utmost effort of the natural voice, as the scream or yell is of the falsette. “Actors who affect the first rank in their art, have commonly an energy of feeling that prompts them to a degree of force in utterance, which produces the mixture of vocality and aspiration, heard in the interjection hah'-and I shall show in a future section, that the junction of a certain degree of aspiration with the tonic elements, is one of the means of earnest and forceful expression. The frequent occurrence of exaggerated
sentiments in the drama, joined to the effort required by the dimensions of a theatre, produces a habit of interjective expiration, which leads the speaker to the attainment of the orotund, if his voice is capable of it.
It must not be supposed that the full hollow and ringing sound of the orotund is always of the same purity. It varies as to its degrees of strength and fulness, and is sometimes slightly infected with aspiration, or nasal murmur, or guttural harshness.
If it should be asked-what advantage is to be gained by the care and labour here enjoined, for acquiring this improved quality of the speaking voice, I answer-First, the mere sound is more musical than that of the common voice. In comparison with the full and sonorous character of a fine orotund, there are voices which have as little of the nature of music in them, as the noise of a hammer on a block. This quality is so alluring that it often catches the ear and approbation of those who are quite insensible to impressions from the agency of pause, quantity, and intonation. I have known the single influence of a musical voice create an extensive fame for its possessor, who in more essential points of good reading was even below mediocrity. It is this quality which dignifies the other excellencies of speech. In the female voice it is most obvious and delightful.
Secondly. The orotund is fuller in volume than the common voice : and as its smooth musical quality gives a delicate attenuation to the vanishing movement, its fulness with no less appropriate effect, displays the stronger body of the radical.
Thirdly. It has a pureness of vocality that gives distinctness to pronunciation. For when completely formed, it is free from the dullness created by nasal murmur or aspiration; the characteristic offensiveness of which is shown by the union of these functions in snoring.
Fourthly. It has a greater degree of strength than the common voice. In this respect it partakes of the nature of things which are perfect in their kind. The ear seems filled with its volume and asks for no more of it. There is too, on the part of the speaker himself, that satisfactory sensation which attends the full energizing of a function: for here nature herself seems to acknowledge that he has done his whole duty. Those who by cultivation of the singing voice have brought its tone to the utmost extent of fulness and purity, will admit the importance of any means which give strength to the organ for the purposes of speech. Compared with the power and facility of an endowed and high-taught vocalist, instinctive efforts in song seem to be not much removed from the imbecility of paralysis.
Fifthly. The orotund, from the discipline of cultivation, is more under command than the common voice: and is consequently more efficient and precise in the production of long quantity ; in varying the degrees of force; in executing the tremulous scale, and in fulfilling all the other purposes of expressive intonation.
Sixthly. It is the only kind of voice appropriate to the master style of epic and dramatic reading. Through it alone the actor consummates the outward sign of the dignity and energy of his conception. The impressive authority and stately elegance of this voice, exceed as measurably, the meaner sounds of ordinary discourse, as the superlative pictures of the poet and the broad wisdom of the sage, respectively transcend the poor originals of life and all their wretched policies. It is the only voice capable of fulfilling the majesty of Shakspeare and Milton.
Finally, as the orotund does not destroy the ability to use at will the common voice, it may be imagined how their contrasted employment may add the resource of vocal light and shade, if I may so speak, to the other means of oratorical coloring and design.
The tremulous movement of the voice does not appear to be produced by any of the visible parts of the fauces: though there is a gurgling noise, somewhat resembling it, which proceeds from the vibration of the uvula, when brought into contact with the base of the tongue in the expiration of the elements . e-ve' and 'e-rr.' I leave it for future observers to ascertain whether the tremulous rise and fall may not be referred to the same organic cause which produces the variations of pitch in the natural and falsette voices.
I have thus endeavoured to set forth what we do not know of the mechanism of speech. The subject of the voice is divided into two branches,-Anatomy and Physiology. The first embraces a description of the vocal organs. The second
a history of the functions performed by that organization. The anatomical structure is recorded even to the utmost visible minuteness : whilst the history of those audible functions which it is the design of this work to develope, and which by the strictest meaning of the term constitute the vocal physiology, has in a great measure been disregarded, under a belief that the subject is beyond the power of scrutiny.
In thus overlooking the analysis of quality, force, and pitch of vocal sound, writers have endeavoured to ascertain what parts of the organization produce these several phenomena; and seem to have almost restricted the name of physiology to their vain and contradictory fancies about these mechanical causations. Hence in the physiology of the audible functions, there is little of that rooted opinion, which in most cultivated sciences, contends with an original inquirer at every step. Whereas the subject of mechanical causation, like all other matters of theory, has become doctrinal and divided ; and the inquirer has here not only to strive at the secresy of nature, but harder still, has to encounter the obstinacy of sectaries, whose opinions have grown into pride by their unyielding contentions with each other.
When the reader has finished this volume, he will perceive that in the present section I was somewhat occupied by the notions of men ; whilst in all the rest, I was entirely employed in attempting to delineate the works of nature: A contrast that may well induce one to exclaim, -Happy is he, who desiring to advance the cause of knowledge, comes to a subject which the fictional finger of the schools has never touched.
Of the Melody of Speech; together with an inquiry how far the Musical terms Key and Modulation
are applicable to it.
When the nature of the radical and vanishing movement was described, it was regarded individually, or as applied to a single syllable. But as speech consists for the most part, of a series of syllables, on each of which the concrete function of the voice instinctively occurs; it is necessary to consider the use and relationships of the radical and vanish, in their aggregate application to the successive syllables of discourse.
In plain narrative or description, the concrete utterance of each syllable is made through the interval of a tone ; and the successive concretes have a difference of pitch, relatively to each other. The appropriation of these concretes to syllables, and the manner in which the succession of their pitch is varied, are exemplified in the following notation :
If these lines and the included spaces be supposed, each in proximate order, to denote the difference of a tone in pitch, the successions of the radical points, with their issuing vanish, will show the places of the syllables of the superscribed sentence, in easy and unimpassioned utterance. The perception of the effect of the successions here exemplified, is called the Melody of speech.