Page images
PDF
EPUB

man.

muscles, in order to let nature take its place. In other words, it is the relaxation of that tension which opposes natural grace of motion. By practice of the exercises in relaxation given below, the student will invigorate the muscles, and free the joints of the body so that each part of it will be not only free, but titted to give the most exact response to the promptings of the inner

These exercises are based on the laws laid down by Francois Delsarte, the great Catholic philosopher of expression. We do not give all that might be given; but exercises for the other muscles of the body will suggest themselves to the earnest student. Be not backward in practicing them, for relaxation, far from producing an artificial mode of expression, enhances it vastly by giving the speaker a body fitted and eager to portray the inmost emotions of the soul spontaneously and harmoniously. Diligent practice of the following Exercises will tend to remove all awkwardness.

EXERCISES IN RELAXATION.

Legs.

Stand with weight of body on right foot. Withdraw energy from the muscles of the left leg and swing it by il rotary movement of the upper body. Change to left foot and go through same motion with right. Practice each of the movements given for about thirty seconds. Energize from hip to knee-joint and raise the leg having lower part relaxed, or decomposed. Drop the leg as if lifeless.

Torso.

Stand in Fourth Attitude. Withdraw energy from the neck muscles and let the head drop to the breast. Withdraw energy from the torso, or waist, and drop the trunk forward as far as it will go. Swing the relaxed part in a rotary motion, the ener y coming from the lower limbs.

Neck.

Decompose the neck and allow the head to drop forward. Raise and allow it to drop as if lifele-s to the right and to the left sides and backward. By movements of the body cause the head to rotate. You must be careful not to carry the head to these different directions. Incline the body that way and let the head drop to its place.

Arms.

Raise the arms from the side toward each other till the fingers touch above the head. Withdraw will-power from the muscles and allow them to drop. Raise the arms in front and when the hands point to the zenith drop lifelessly as before. De-energize arm from shoulder down, and sway the body causing arm to swin, loosely in all directions. Raise arm from shoulder, bend elbow, causing fore-arm to hang at right angle to upper arm, de-energize fore-arm and shake up and down.

Hand and Wrist.

floor,

Grasp the right hand firmly with the left, placing left thumb on palm of right hand and the tingers of leït band on back of right. Decompose fingers of right hand and shake vigorously with the left. Exercise the tingers of left hand in the same manner. Withdraw the energy from the right hand and, with palm toward the shake

up and down by means of the fore-arm muscies. Hold the hand with the side to the floor. Shake on the wrist as before. Hold it with the palm upward and shake. Put the left hand through the same relaxing exercises.

These exercises should be practiced daily, devoting about fifteen minutes of each class hour to the purpose for a number of days, until the limbs and joints are under the perfect control of the will. Then the outward expression of the different emotions will be ready to be artistically produced. It will no longer be mechanical expression, but nature speaking through the unobstructed channels of action. This is true art in oratory sit defined by the great American, DANIEL WEBSTER, when speaking of the eloquence of action: "It comes, if it come at all, like the outbreaking of a fountain from the earth, or the bursting forth of volcanic tires, with spontaneous, original, native force.”

CHAPTER V.

FORCE.

Force is the degree of power used in the production of tone. Stress is the application of force.

Every-day experience shows that different sentiments require a different use of Force. DR. RUSH, in his admirable work on the human voice, speaking on this matter, says: "Secrecy muffles itself against discovery by a whisper; and doubt, while leaning toward a positive declaration, cunningly subdues his voice, that the impression of his possible error may be least exciting and durable. Certainty, on the other hand, in the confident desire to be heard, is positive, distinct, and forcible. Anger declares itself with energy, because its charges and denials are made with a wide appeal, and in its own sincerity of conviction. A like degree of force is employed for passions congenial with anger; as hate, ferocity, revenge. All thoughts unbecoming or disgraceful, smother the voice, with a desire to conceal even the voluntary utterance of them. Joy calls aloud for companionship in the overflowing charity of its satisfaction. Bodily pain, fear and terror, are also forcible in their expression; with the double intention, of summoning relief, and repelling the offending cause when it is a sentient being."

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

In treating Force, we must consider first, the mode of exerting it, or Form, and second, the amount of force which we employ, or Degree.

FORM.

The form of force may be Effusive, Expulsive, or Explosive.

The Effusive Form manifests itself by a smooth flow of sound, avoiding all abrupt and sudden utterance. As an example from nature we adduce the moaning of the wind.

It is principally used in giving expression to pathos, awe, reverence, repose.

Examples.

From The Lost Chord.

I do not know what I was playing,
Or what I was dreaming then;
But I struck one chord of music,
Like the sound of a great Amen.

I have sought, but I seek it vainly,
That one lost chord divine,
Which came from the soul of the organ,
And entered into mine.

It may be that Death's bright angel
Will speak in that chord again,
It may be that only in Heaven
I shall hear that grand Amen.

Adelaide A. Procter,

« PreviousContinue »