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used to denote. The word “ monotone" should import a strict musical sameness of sound; but, in actual usage, it applies, rather, to successive repetitions of the same “ radical” and “concrete pitch," in the common form of the latter, as in the “ radical ” and “ vanish” of unimpassioned or inexpressive utterance.
Two causes have contributed to the license of language, in the vague use of this term : first, the fact that what is termed monotone, as differing from mere monotony, (the one being an intentional and impressive effect; the other, an accidental fault of the ear and habit,) is, usually, the utterance of a long, and even protracted, vowel sound, with a peculiarly full “ median stress,” which absorbs the attention, and occupies the ear, to the exclusion of the differential sounds of the “ radical” and the “ vanish.” The style in “ monotone” approaches comparatively near to that of music, as contradistinguished from speech by more or less of the “swell." Hence the middle point of each sound will be most impressive to the ear, and obliterate the effect of the extremes. An apparent absolute monotone, is thus produced. — Another cause of error in the designation of “monotone,” is the effect of the close and frequent recurrence of apparently the same note, in the repetition of the same “ radical” and pitch, on successive words; as what is termed "monotone" is usually a partial sameness of voice on several, or on many words, in succession.
The term “ monotone,” then, when used in the language of elocution, must be understood as conventional, and employed merely to avoid circumlocution. It implies the successive repetition of the same “radical” and “concrete” pitch, with the addition of a full and prolonged “ median stress,” so executed as to occupy the ear to the exclusion, nearly, of the “radical” and “ vanish ” of the sounds to which it is applied. The partial sameness of voice, thus produced, has been, not inaptly compared, as mentioned before, to the repeated sounds of a deep-toned bell; as the “monotone" is usually the expression of low-pitched, solemn utterance, analogous in effect, to the bell's perpetually recurring low note. The monotone ” is, in the true, natural, and unstudied use of the voice, – the invariable standard of elocution, the style of awe, reverence, solemnity, sublimity, grandeur, majesty, power, splendor, and all other modes of feeling which imply vastness and force, particularly when associated with the idea of supernatural influence or agency. It expresses, also, the feelings of amazement, terror, and horror, or whatever emotion arises from the contemplation of preternatural effects.
The reason why this peculiar form of utterance is associated with the extremes of emotion, seems to be the same that we observe when we hear a person who has been an eye-witness of an awful event, relating what he has seen: the excess of feeling denies him the power of varied utterance; and his perpetually low, husky note, which seems to come from the depths of his inmost frame, thrills the hearer with a feeling from which a varied intonation would be an instantaneous relief. The same principle divested of the associations of horror, applies, in degree, to scenes and objects of overpowering majesty and splendor. The impression is, in such instances, too powerful to allow the varied and free play of ordinary utterance.
The "monotone,” therefore, as the indication of vastness and power, pervades the style of all the noblest and most impressive forms of human language in poetry, and, not unfrequently, in prose of a high-wrought style. It abounds, particularly, in the reading of the sacred Scriptures ; and it is indispensable in the devotional language of hymns. It is used likewise in verse, and in poetic prose, for melody of effect, instead of the “ downward slide of complete
monotone does not, it is true, occur so frequently as most other modifications of voice. But, from its special office, it acquires peculiar importance. Without it, the tones of a devotional exercise, or the reading of many parts of the Scriptures, are unavoidably associated with irreverence, or utter absence of appropriate feeling. The language of Milton or of Young, becomes parody to the ear, when divested of the due effect of this impressive element of voice.
A great error, however, to be carefully avoided in actual reading and speaking, is the prevalent use of this mode of voice, without distinction of circumstances. The wearisome sameness of school reading, and of the style of many professional speakers, arises from the habitual unintentional use of this element. The monotony thus produced can be tolerated only in a law paper, a state document, a bill of lading, or an invoice, in the reading of which, the mere distinct enunciation of the words, is deemed sufficient. In other circumstances it kills, with inevitable certainty, everything like feeling or expression. The student of elocution will derive great benefit, in his practice
monotone,” from a repetition of the elements and of words, on the recurring identical successive “radical and concrete,” with full prolongation and ample “median stress.
The following examples will serve to suggest others of similar character.
MONOTONE.' Devotional Awe and Reverence. ("Effusive orotund quality :" "Subdued” force : “Median stress :"
Very low pitch.”)
[EXTRACTS FROM THE SCRIPTURES.] 1“Höly! hõly! hõly! Lord God of Sabaoth!'”
1 The "monotone” is usually distinguished by this horizontal mark.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name!”
“Unto Thee 1 līft ūp mine eyes, 0 Thou that dwellest in the heavens!"
Awe, Sublimity, Majesty, Power, Horror.
(“Quality,” force, “stress," and pitch, as before.) " And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo! there was a great earthquake. And the sūn became bläck as sāckcloth of hāir, and the moon became as blood; and the stārs of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fīg-tree cāsteth her untīmely fīgs, when she is shāken of a mīghty wind. And the heaven depārted as a scroll when it is rõlled together; and ēvery moūntain and island were moved out of their plàces. And the kings of the ēarth, and the grēat mēn, and the rich mēn, and the chief captains, and the mighty mēn, and ēvery bõnd-man, and ēvery frēe-man, hid themselves in the dēns and in the rocks of the mountains; and sāid to the mountains and rocks, 1. Fāll on us, and hīde us from the fāce of Him that sit- . teth on the throne, and from the wrāth of the Làmb: 1 for the grēat dāy of his wrāth is come; and who shall be able to stand ?'"
Amazement and Terror. (“Aspirated pectoral quality :" "Suppressed force :" “ Median stress :">
“Very low pitch.”) “ In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep slēep fålleth on mēn, 'fēar cāme upon mē and trēmbling, which made all my bones to shake. Thēn a spīrit pāssed before my fāce; "the hāir of my flēsh stood up. — It stood still ; but I could not discērn the form thereof. An image was before mīne Zyes; "there was sīlence; and I heard a voice saying, . Shāll mörtal mān be more jūst than God? Shall a mān be more pūre than his Māker?'"
Majesty and Grandeur. (“Orotund quality :” “ Moderate” force : “ Median stress :” “Low
“ His form had not yet lost
1 A deeper note commences at each of the places thus marked. The whole passage is a succession of "monotones."
Less than archangel ruined, and the excess
Sublimity and Splendor. (“ Orotund quality :” “Moderate” force : “Median stress :'' “ Low
[SUMMER.) – Thomson.
Vastness, Sublimity, and Solemnity. ("Orotund quality :" "Impassioned” force : « Median stress :" " Low
Glasses itself in tempests; in all time,
īcing the põle, or in the torrid clime
Dark heaving; - boundless, endless, and sublime, -
Of the Invisible ; even from out thy slime
“Poetic Monotone." [The “poetic monotone” is properly, the distinctive “second” which gives to the language of verse or of poetic prose, when not marked by emphatic or impassioned force, its peculiar melody, as contrasted with the “ partial cadence” of “complete sense in clauses."
The two faults commonly exemplified in passages such as the following, are, 1st, that of terminating a clause which forms complete sense, with a “partial cadence,” — 2d, that of terminating it with the upward “ slide" of the “ third.” Both these errors turn verse into prose, render poetic language in prose, dry and inexpressive; as both these modes of voice are the appropriate language of fact, and not of feeling or melody.]
(“Pure tone :” “Subdued” force : “Median stress :" “ High pitch.")
1.- [Music.] -Moore.
And melt in the heart as instantly."
(“Pure tone :” “Subdued” force : « Median stress :" “ Low pitch.")
2. — [AUTUMN SCENE.) - Mellen.
(“Pure tone :" « Moderate” force : “ Median stress :" " Low pitch.")
3. — [The Ocean Depths.] --Percival.
(“Quality,” force, “stress,” and pitch, as before.)
4.- (NATURE.] -Bryant.