« PreviousContinue »
above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.”— [Awe: "Low Pitch:"] . Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.'
The same “ transitions” of “pitch” which occur in passing from one paragraph or stanza to another, may also take place within the limits of a single sentence, if the feeling obviously changes from clause to clause, as in the following extract.
Reverence and Awe. (“ Low pitch :" rising gradually to “middle,” in the fourth line.)
ADORATION. - Porteous.
“O Thou! whose balance does the mountains weigh,
Deepest Reverence and Awe.
("Very low pitch.")
Reverence and Adoration.
(“ Low pitch.”)
(Pitch still lower.) May sea and land, and earth and heaven be joined, To bring the eternal Author to my mind!”
(“Very low pitch.”) “ When oceans roar, or thunders roll, May thoughts of Thy dread vengeance shake my soul!”
SENTENTIAL MELODY." If we bring our analysis of a sentence into still closer distinctions of melody and pitch, we pass from clauses to phrases. The “ melody
of phrases ” and their relative “pitch,” involve topics too numerous and too intricate for discussion in an elementary work. These subjects will be found fully explained in the work of Dr. Rush. We will select a few points of practical application and of primary importance. The phrases of melody,” in a sentence, admit of being arranged in two classes : — Ist, those which prevail in the body of a sentence; 2d, that which occupies the last three syllables of a sentence, and forms the cadence. The former is termed the “ current melody;” the latter, the “ melody of the cadence.”
The investigation of melody and pitch, in phrases, requires attention to the important distinction of “ discrete ” and “ concrete sounds. 6 Discrete” sounds consist of notes produced at intervals, or in close succession, but in detached and distinct forms, as in running up or down the keys of a piano, or the chords of a harp; or producing similar sounds on a violin, by twitching the strings with the finger, instead of gliding over them with the bow; or in the laughing utterance of delighted surprise, as when we laugh a
up the scale, on the interrogatory interjection“ eh?” or when, in the laughing utterance of derision, we run down the scale, in the same way, in the long-drawn sound of the word “no!” In these last-mentioned instances, every note is executed by a distinct and separate little jet, or little, of voice. To such sounds, then, the word“ discrete" in its proper etymological sense, may be justly applied, as intimating that they exist apart.
“ Concrete" sounds, on the other hand, are produced by a succession of notes gliding into each other so imperceptibly to the ear, that they cannot be detached from each other; as when the violinist, in playful execution, sometimes makes his instrument seem to hold dialogue, in the tones of question and answer, by drawing the bow across the strings, while he slips his left hand, upward and downward, so as to shorten or lengthen the strings, and thus cause the sounds to glide up or down the scale, in one continuous stream of
mewing ” sound. A parallel illustration may be drawn from the natural use of the voice, when we pronounce the interrogatory "eh?” of surprise, in a serious mood, but with great earnestness, – merely causing the voice to slide smoothly up the scale, through the interval of a " fifth " or an “octave," or when we utter the word “ no!” in the tone of full and bold denial, and make the voice sweep continuously down the scale, through a similar interval.
In the “ current melody" of a sentence, every syllable includes a “ radical” and a “vanishing movement,” united, which, in unimpassioned expression, occupy the space, on the scale, of one tone, or pass from one note to the next above it on the scale. The succession of " concrete” tones, is uniformly at the interval of a tone, upward or downward on the scale, as the case may be. The rise of voice within each syllable may therefore be called its “concrete pitch ;" and the place that each syllable takes above or below another, the “ radical pitch.'
The “ melody of phrases," prescribes no fixed succession of radical pitch, although it usually avoids a repetition of the same “ radical pitch," unless for special effect, in extreme cases ; and it forbids
the see-saw tone of exact alternation,, or measured recurrence, of “ radical pitch.”
The convenience of using specific and exact terms, in relation to melody's
” and “ pitch,” as they exist in speech, renders the following distinctions important to the student of elocution.
When two or more concretes occur in succession, on the same “ radical pitch,” they form a monotone,” or produce upon the ear the effect of unity or sameness of sound or tone. This concrete pitch is often used in conjunction with the low notes of awe, sublimity, and solemnity, for impressive effect, resembling that of the deep tolling of a large bell. “ Monotone,” however, is not to be confounded with monotony, the besetting fault of school reading, and which consists chiefly in omitting or slighting the “ radical stress," and sometimes abolishing even the “ radical movement” of elements. “ Monotone” is the sublimest poetic effect of elocution: monotony, one of the worst defects.
When the “ radical pitch” is one note above or below that of the preceding tone, it is termed a Rising” or a “ Falling Ditone.” - When the radicals of three successive 56
concretes,” rise or fall, they become a
Falling Tritone." When there is a series of three or more, altemately a tone above and below each other, they form an 66 Alternate Phrase."
When three " concretes” gradually descend in their “ radical pitch” at the close of a sentence, the 56 vanish” of the last, instead of ascending, descends; so as to give the peculiar closing effect to the cadence. This descent is, accordingly, for distinction's sake, termed the “ Triad of the Cadence.”
It is in this peculiar 5 phrase " of " sentential melody," that the very general fault, popularly called “ a tone,” exists. The common style of cadence, instead of being spoken, is usually such as causes it to be sung, more or less, by deviating from the melody of the
triad,” and, at the same time, losing “ radical,” and assuming “ median stress,” accompanied by a half-musical wave or undulation of voice. A clear, distinct, and exact succession of “radical pitch,”. in the form of the “ triad,” would, in most cases, destroy the false tone, and impart to reading more resemblance than it often possesses to speech or to conversation.
The student will derive much assistance, in this branch of elocution, from repeating the “ tonic elements,” and appropriate words selected from the exercises in the chapter on enunciation, with a view, first, to observe the “ concrete” character of the elementary sounds of speech in their initial “radical” and rising 66 vanish." Let letters, syllables, and words, then be practised, successively, in the forms of the phrases of the “ monotone,
falling” and ."! 6 ditone,” and “ tritone,” and the “ triad of the cadence.” The following illustration, selected from the work of Dr. Rush, will suggest the idea how the exercises in this department may be practised in classes, by the use of the chart of exercises, or of the black-board.
The object in view, in the use of such diagrams as the following, is not to exhibit the strict application of any rule or principle of elo
cution, but merely to aid the mind in attaining an exact apprehension of the nature and character of the elements of vocal sound, in certain relations. It is not meant that either the couplet from Pope's Homer, which is introduced in the following illustration, or the lines which follow it, must be read with the precise melody exhibited in the diagram, or that they cannot be appropriately read with any other. The design of this exemplification, is merely to show the different forms of “radical pitch,” as they occur in the actual use of the voice, and to render the practice of them definite and exact. The repetition of the exercise will render the ear accurate and discriminating, and will preserve the student from inadvertently contracting the false intonation arising from the general neglect of this part of elocution, and from the impossibility of discussing or explaining its peculiarities, till the means of instruction were furnished by exact analysis and precise nomenclature, - benefits for which science and education stand equally indebted to the discriminating genius and philosophic investigation of Dr. Rush.
Where yon wild fig trees join the walls of Troy."
Triad of the Cadence.
To secure the full benefit of discrimination and of exact practice, it will be a useful exercise to repeat the phrases of melody in the diagram, on the “ tonic" and other elements, on syllables, and on the following couplets.
1.—“Lo! the poor Indian, whose untutored mind
Sees God in tempests, hears him in the wind.” 1
2.-" There, where a few torn shrubs the place disclose,
The village preacher's modest mansion rose."
3.-" Thus every good his native wilds impart,
Imprints the patriot passion on his heart.” 1 The above example is intentionally introduced as one of cadence, for the sake of contrast with the tone of continuance, which belongs to it in the original text.
4.-" The conscious swains, rejoicing in the sight,
Eye the blue vault, and bless the useful light.”
We proceed to the examination of another function of the voice, connected with “melody," or the transition of vocal sound from one note to another of the musical scale. — The transit from the “radical” to the" vanish” of a sound, is, it will be recollected, limited, in “concrete pitch,” to a single tone, or the distance measured to the ear, in passing from one note to the next above, on the scale. We should hear this transition exemplified in the sound of a in the word arm, in the following unimpassioned and incomplete phrase, if read as it would be in the case of a person suddenly interrupted, at the moment of uttering that word, in the act of reading a sentence; thus, “ He raised his arm” — The broken or interrupted, progress of the voice, is here indicated by the fact that the sound of a in the word arm does not descend, but remains suspended by the effect of “concrete pitch," or the common difference between the “ radical ” and the " ishing movement,” in an unimpassioned or inexpressive sound.
But let us suppose the case of a person uttering the same element, in the vivid language of real or affected surprise, in the interjection “ah!” We shall now perceive, that the interval between the “radical” and the “ vanish,” is greatly enlarged, and that the voice has run up three, five, or perhaps, eight notes, according to the depth and earnestness of the feeling expressed in the utterance of the sound. The more slow and drawling the style of voice is made, in the repetition of the supposed example, the more distinct will be our perception of the transition of sound from note to note, as it glides up the scale. This vocal function is what, in elocution, is termed an “upward slide,” or in the language of some elocutionists, a rising inflection.”
Let us suppose, once more, the sound of the same element falling on the ear, in the tone of the bold military command,