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A strict definition of the term, melody of speech, embraces the doctrine of pitch, of force, of time, and of pause, and regards likewise higher intervals of the scale than those above exemplified; but as the nature of each of these constituents will be separately described hereafter, the subject of the present section is limited to the development of the principles of pitch when the melody is made exclusively through the interval of a tone.
An accurate perception of the difference of pitch in speech can be obtained only by close observation, and by well devised experiment. The inquirer should be able to rise and descend through the musical scale, on any one of the tonic elements. He should then traverse the octave, both ascending and descending, on any eight successive syllables, selected from common discourse; using a different syllable for each note of the scale. This exercise will in due time enable him to recognize the intervals of a tone, a third, a fifth, and an octave, when the intonation is made on the passing syllables of speech. Being thus prepared, let him try to analyze the sentence in the above example, when uttered in his own natural manner; for I can not suppose him yet able to follow the notation. With this view he should move slowly through the sentence, sounding only the tonic element of each syllable; and giving those elements their shortest abrupt sound ; so that the reading, if I may so call it, may resemble the successions of a short cough. This method will make the variations of pitch more distinct than when all the elements are pronounced.
If this contrived utterance should not afford a clear perception whether a given syllable rises or falls a tone, from the place of the preceding one, let him measure the questionable relation of the two sounds, by the rule of the scale, in the following manner. Whilst he pronounces the syllables as if he were reading, let him keep their sounds in notice as parts of the scale. If the second be above the first, he will perceive that the ascent, by those two sounds, forms the two first steps or notes of the rising scale : for by continuing to rise he will find himself completing the scale upon them. If the second be below the first, he will, on the addition of one or more tones below the second, recognize that peculiar effect which belongs to the close of the scale, and to the fall of the voice at a period of discourse : for this effect can take place only upon a descent of the voice. In the use of the means here directed, the ear must, with divided attention, be turned at the same time, to the progress of the spoken melody, and to the successions of pitch in the musical scale.
In order to render the system of melody intelligible, we may consider the succession of its sounds as subdivided into that which takes place generally in the sentence, and that which occurs on a short portion at its termination. These divisions, may be otherwise termed, the Current melody, and the melody of the Cadence.
The current melody, or that succession of rise and fall which is made on all the syllables of a sentence, except the three last, exhibits the following phenomena.
In simple phraseology, which conveys no feeling or emphatic sentiment, every syllable consists of the upward radical and vanishing tone. The succession of these concrete tones is made with a variation of pitch, in which any two proximate concretes never differ from each other more than the interval of a tone.
To distinguish these two modes of melodial progression by short and referrible terms, let us call the rise of each syllable the Concrete Pitch of melody; and the place that each syllable assumes above or below the preceding, the Radical Pitch. Thus in the foregoing example of notation, every one of the syllables has the concrete pitch of a tone : the two composing the word nature,' differ from each other in their radical pitch, whilst that of the three syllables of 'infinite' is the
It will be shown hereafter in its proper place, that the melody employed at some of the pauses in discourse, requires a certain succession of radical pitch, for the just representation of sense and expression. But the parts contained within the divisions, made by these pauses, have in general no fixed mode of arrangement : for the effect will be natural and agreeable, if the melody of these parts is made by avoiding a continuation of the same radical pitch, or an alternate rising and falling, or any other progression of remarkable regularity. I offer here three different notations of the same sentence, in which the above cautions are observed ; and in each of which the melody has a natural construction.
There are other modes in which an agreeable melody might be framed for this sentence, on the principles of the varied succession of radical pitch here delineated. But however varied the succession, its forms are all reducible to a limited number of aggregates of the concrete tones ; which may be called the Phrases of melody, and described thus :
When two or more concretes occur successively on the same place of radical pitch, it may be called the phrase of the Monotone.
When the radical of a concrete is above or below that of a preceding one, the phrases may be termed respectively, the Rising and Falling Ditone.
When the radicals of three concretes successively ascendthe Rising Tritone : when they descend, the Falling Tritone.
When there is a train of three or more, alternately a tone above and below each other, it may be called an Alternation or the Alternate phrase.
When three concretes gradually descend in their radical pitch, at the close of a sentence, the phrase may be called the Triad of the Cadence. This is indeed a falling tritone, but since the vanish of the lowest radical in the tritone of the cadence always descends, as I shall show presently, I have thought proper to contradistinguish it by the term Triad.
The form of these phrases is pointed out on the notation of the following lines ; where the current is constructed in a manner not unsuitable to the simple narrative of the couplet : though here, as in some other instances of this essay, the melody is made with a view to illustrate description, rather than to furnish examples of appropriate elocution.
I have not been able to discover that the melody of plain narrative or description is resolvable into more than these seven phrases. It would seem to be part of the ordination of the diatonic melody, that there should not be a rise or fall, of any great extent, by proximate degrees. I have limited it to the tritone, in both directions, because it appears to me that a further progression is not agreeable. Whether the propriety of excluding phrases of more than three constituents from diatonic speech, might be grounded on the perception, that the effect of such phrases somewhat resembles that of song, particularly in ascending, whereby the semitone is traversed,-1 leave to be determined by others; hoping, in the spirit of true philosophy, that until this point is ascertained, there will be no party divisions or idle wrangling about it.
The three examples given in a preceding page, of the varied current melody of the same sentence, and the statement that even in that short sentence, the phrases might be further agreeably diversified, enable us to understand why an accomplished speaker never offends the ear, by a monotonous continuation of the same radical pitch, or by formal returns of similar progressions. For notwithstanding the pitch is necessarily limited to the variety afforded by the rise and fall of a single tone, yet the different phrases of melody, and their practicable changes, furnish sequences of dissimilar passages, quite sufficient to prevent a recognition of identity in the succession. The ear of a skilful speaker is always on the watch against the faults of monotony, from closely repeated phrases : and there are enough variable elements to afford an easy exemption from them. The principle that governs the construction of the successions of pitch in the melody of speech, is similar to that which directs the arrangement of varied accent, and quantity, in the rythmus of harmonious prose. Excellence in each is the work of a delicate and discerning ear: and its habitual and almost involuntary judgment is not less effective in one instance, by securing the beauties of a varied intonation, than in the other, by rejecting the prosodial measures of acknowledged
The melody of speech is made by movements of the voice, partly in the concrete and partly in the discrete scale. The radical and vanish of each syllable is strictly concrete. The