Page images

The mountains clasp thee lovingly within
Their giant ārms, and ever round thee bow
The everlasting fòrests.”'

Poetic Monotone,in Descriptive Prose.

(“Quality,” &c., as before.)

1.- [SPRING.] —Anonymous. “ In the calm spring evenings, what delightful hours the cottager spends in his little garden! - He is not without a feeling — unuttered though it be- of the sweetness of spring, and the delights of the passing hour; for, as the shades of night fall darkly on the scene, he leans upon his spāde, and lingers to breathe the odorous air, to hear the faint murmur of his wēaried bēes, now settling peaceably in their hive for the night, and the glad notes of bīrds, dying melodiously away in the inner woods.'

(“Quality,” &c., as before.)

2.—[THE CHOSEN GRAVE.] - Anonymous. “The thought is sweet to lay our bones within the bosom of our native soil. The verdure and the flowers I love, will brighten around my grāve; — the same trees whose pleasant murmurs cheered my living ears, will hang their cool shadows over my dūst ; — and the eyes that met mine in the light of affection, will shed tears over the sod that covers me, keeping my memory green within their spirits.”


The uses of the musical scale, which occur, either in the natural and accustomed forms of speech, or the exercise of reading, have been, thus far in our analysis, of the character termed “diatonic.” That is to say, the intervals, or the transitions, of voice, hitherto discussed in this volume, have all been such as extend to at least the interval of a full tone, or occupy the entire space necessarily traversed, in passing from one note to another, at the relative distance of a whole tone. The term “ diatonic" may therefore be applied to all the melodial functions of voice to which we have been attending; and the “ diatonic melody” of a sentence may be briefly thus reviewed.

In the simple statement of fact or of thought, in unimpassioned narration, and in plain definition or description, the “current melody" of a sentence will consist of, 1st, the usual upward “ crete produced by the “ radical ” and “ vanish” of the elements of speech, traversing a tone, or occupying the interval of a “second ;" 2d, an occasional downward “ concrete” of the “ second ;" 3d, the differential “ radical pitch,” in the forms of upward and downward




[ocr errors]

6 ditone, " " tritone,” and “ alternate phrase;" 4th, the termination of the “ sentential melody” by the “ triad of the cadence.” In im passioned narration, description, or statement, “expressidn may demand, instead of the sedate and reserved effect of such “ melody, the vivid style of the upward and downward “ slides” of the “third," the “ fifth,” the “ octave;' and, in extreme emotion, even a wider interval. In a still higher stage of excitement, the “wave,' double slide, of the same intervals, may be requisite ; and, in extremely deep and solemn feeling, the prolonged “ second,” called


This enumeration would exhaust the chief forms of " diatonic melody;" as the intervals of the “ fourth, ," "sixth,” and “ seventh,' are rarely found in the regulated functions of speech or in reading. Conscious guilt, shame, and cowardice, will be found, in consequence of their agitated, suppressed, and unhinged utterance, to substitute, sometimes, the imperfect effect of the downward " second” for the downward “ third,” a struggling and choking upward “ second” for an upward “third,” — the “ fourth,” in the same style, when the voice seems aiming at a “fifth,” — and a seventh" for an tave.” The ungovernable voice of inebriety sometimes shoots over the “third” into the “ fourth,” and so of the other intervals, or falls a tone short of its aim, through untuned ear, and organic paralysis, so as to give the peculiarly dissonant and inharmonious effect of its characteristic utterance. Boyhood, in its wild freaks of ungoverned feeling, sometimes delights to execute these anomalies of voice, for sportive effect.

But the next practically important stage of voice, connected with the study of melody as a branch of elocution, is that which is exhibited in the use of the “ semitone," or half tone. To persons to whom the technical nomenclature of music is familiar, it would be sufficient to say that we have now to do with the “chromatic "scale, or that which ascends and descends by half instead of whole tones. Students of elocution who have not paid attention to musical terms, may be directed to the interval under consideration by the general statement that it is that which gives to any sound, vocal, or instrumental, or accidental, (as in the occasional tones of the wind, or of the Æolian harp,) the effect which is universally termed “plaintive.'

An exact idea of the “ semitone,” would be formed by thinking of it as occupying precisely half the interval of the usual “concrete of the “ radical ” and “ vanish ” of the "second" upward or downward. The student may be able to give it correct exemplification by attempting to utter a common concrete, ,” with a whining or plaintive tone. He will find that, in this case, his voice glides upward or downward in a style barely perceptible, and falling obviously short of that of the “ diatonic concrete.

The voice of the mother condoling with her grieving child, is a vivid natural exemplification of the effect of " semitone;" as is, also, the tone of sorrow or regret, in the utterance of childhood. Even the manly expression of grief, takes this mode of utterance, especially in the language of dramatic poetry, in passages in which grief is not violent, but subdued, in its tone. The excess and caricature of this

This pro

mode of voice, occurs in the whine of the dispirited child, of the exhausted invalid, of the languishing hypochondriac, or of the pathetic sentimentalist. It is thrown out still more perceptibly on the ear, in the child's whimpering approach to crying, when he is overcome by pain or apprehension. The extensive range of circumstances which require or produce the “ semitone,” may be distinctly apprehended, if we pass, at once, to the example afforded in the deep and peculiar tones of penitence or contrition, and of supplication, feelings in the true and just utterance of which, it always predominates, and which cannot be expressed to the ear without it.

The "semitone," or "chromatic" interval, is the appropriate expressive note of all pathetic and tender emotion. It gives utterance to affectionate sympathy, commiseration, compassion, pity, and tenderness. It is, also, the characteristic of grief and sorrow in their subdued forms, of regret, penitence, contrition, complaint, condolence, supplication, and entreaty.

“ Chromatic” is a term borrowed from the art of painting, and transferred to that of music, by one of those customary licenses of speech, by which the terms of one art, addressed to one sense, are transferred to another art, addressed to a different sense. ceeding in language is owing, in most instances, to comparative paucity of appropriate terms, in the art which borrows the use of words. But it sometimes, though not always, produces a happy effect, in the form of figurative illustration, and facilitates a vivid apprehension of the idea to which a borrowed term is applied. Thus, the word " chromatic" was originally applied to the painter's scale of gradation in colors, when these are arranged not for contrast but gradual approximation to each other. Suppose, for example, a colored scale of degrees, in which one degree should be yellow; the next, red; the next, black. The colors would, in this case, stand forth perfectly distinct from each other; as the tones of the “ diatonic" scale exist to the ear.

Suppose, again, a scale of colors divided into successive half degrees, thus; passing gradually from the bright to the dark tint, through intervening hues, yellow, orange, red, brown, black. We should now have a softened or mitigated transition of approximated, or half-blended, tints; the effect corresponding, as regards the eye, to that of " chromatic “ semitonic" progression of notes to the ear.

The effect of the “ semitone” extends over all the intervals, concrete ” and “ discrete,” from the mere radical ” and “ vanish" up to the "octave,” and so downward, as designated in the “ diatonic" scale. But the

is comparatively seldom used in the semitonic form. The principal applications of the “ semitone " are found in the “ monotone," the “ semitone proper, the “ third,” and the “fifth.” The “chromatic melody,” takes effect, likewise, in all the phrases of sentential melody, both in the "current" and the closing strains, with this peculiar exception, that the change by “ radical pitch” in the "chromatic current,” although it is by



[ocr errors]

“ semitone,” when upward, is through the interval of a “tone," when it descends.

The importance of " chromatic melody," as an element of elocution, will be at once perceived, when we advert to the fact of its great power over sympathy, and its value, as an instrument of effect, in the hands of the orator, the reciter, and the reader.

The speaker who relies wholly on his power to overawe, to arouse, or to impel, will always be found unfit for the treatment of all subjects which appeal to human sympathy and tenderness. The orator is deficient in power, who cannot touch and soften, and melt and subdue: he is incapable of exerting the easiest and surest sway over the heart. Genuine pathos is “ the gentle hand, that leads the elephant by a



The application of the semitone, as an implement of vocal effect, needs peculiar skill; as the least approach to excess in its use, or to artificial aiming at its object, renders a reader or speaker ridiculous. Some readers, however, (and the number is large among young ladies,) through habitual languor or feebleness, allow themselves to fall into “ semitone,” as a habit of the voice, and consequently read, on all occasions, with a gratuitous pathos of tone throughout, and in cadences, more particularly, with what the poet terms a dying, dying fall.”

A thorough command of pathetic utterance, needs a close and discriminating application to the different effects of “ tone ” and “semitone;' and every student of elocution, who is not master of these distinctions, should practise carefully with a musician, till he can execute, with perfect and instantaneous precision, all the applications of the “ semitone as it affects the intervals of the - semitone proper,” and of the “ third,” and “ fifth,” - the forms in which it most frequently occurs in “ expression.”

The practice of the following examples, should be accompanied by frequent and extensive exercises on the elements, and on words and phrases, as well as lines and sentences of appropriate character. Additional examples may be found by referring to passages quoted under other heads, in various parts of this manual, for the purpose of exemplifying pathetic and tender emotions, in the various particulars of “ quality," " force," or stress, ,” “ pitch,” &c.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

Affectionate Sympathy. (“Pure tone:" "Impassioned” force : “Vanishing stress," and "lre

mor:” “High pitch :” “Semitone,” throughout, — interval of the “ fifth.”)

ADAM, [TO ORLANDO.] - Shakspeare.
“ What! my young master ? -O my gentle master!
O my sweet master! O you memory
Of old Sir Rowland ! — why, what make you here?
Why are you virtuous ? Why do people love you?

And wherefore are you gentle, strong, and valiant ?
Your praise is come too swiftly home before you.
Oh! what a world is this, when what is comely
Envenoms him that bears it !”

(“Pure tone :” “Moderate" force: “Median stress :” “Middle pitch :" “Semitone,” throughout, — interval of the “third.")

ORLANDO, [TO Adam.) - Shakspeare.
“O good old man! how well in thee appears
The constant service of the antique world,
When service sweat for duty, not for meed!

old man! thou prun'st a rotten tree,
That cannot so much as a blossom yield,
In lieu of all thy pains and husbandry!”


(“Pure tone :" "Impassioned” force : “Vanishing stress,” and “tre

mor:” Weeping utterance : “ Semitone proper," throughout; ang

occasional “chromatic thirds” and “fisths.") CORDELIA, [WATCHING OVER HER FATHER, AFTER HIS EXPOSURE TO THE

“O my dear father ! - Restoration, hang
Thy medicine on my lips; and let this kiss
Repair those violent harms, that my two sisters
Have in thy reverence made!

“ Had you not been their father, these white flakes
Had challenged pity of them. Was this a face
To be exposed against the warring winds ?
To stand against the deep, dread-bolted thunder ?
In the most terrible and nimble stroke
Of quick, cross lightning ? to watch, (poor perdu,)
With this thin helm! Mine enemy's dog,
Though he had bit me, should have stood that night
Against my fire; And wast thou fain, poor father,
To hovel thee with swine, and rogues forlorn,
In short and musty straw? Alack, alack!
'Tis wonder that thy life and wits, at once,
Had not concluded all !”

« PreviousContinue »