« PreviousContinue »
provements, those who wish to become acquainted with Rhyth mical reading, will soon have it in their power to procure the best assistance which is extant,
SECTION III. Of Quality.
Quality, in the speaking voice, signifies that variety of accidence which is indicated by the epithets of smooth, rough, harsh, full, thin, slender, soft, strong, weak, feeble, loud, forcible. A few examples illustrative of this statement, will be sufficient.
Soft-Soft is the strain when zephyr gently blows.
Smooth-And the smooth streams, in smoother numbers flow. Loud-But when loud surges lash the sounding shore.
Rough-The hoarse rough verse should like the torrent roar. Harsh-On a sudden open fly,
With impetuous recoil and jarring sound,
Th' infernal doors, and on their hinges grate harsh thunder. Forcible-Now storming fury rose,
And clamor, such as heard in heaven till now
Or where the gorgeous east with richest hand,
Strong-Him the almighty power
Hurl'd headlong from th' ethereal skies,
Slender-He said the sovereign'st thing on earth,
SECTION IV. Of Time.
Time refers either to single letters and syllables, or to whole passages; and signifies the long or short duration with which they are respectively pronounced. Considered in relation to letters and syllables, it is called quantity, and in reference to whole passages rate.
In the word ale the quantity of the letter a is long, and in that of hat, it is short. The letters which admit of the long quantity are the vowels, and the following consonants, viz: Bdg v z w and zh. This quantity consists in drawing out the sound of the accented letters, so as to make them twice as long as those which are not accented; as in the case of ale and hǎt.
Rate refers to the general movement of the voice in pronouncing a whole discourse; and is either slow, quick or rapid.Some idea of these accidence may be formed from the following
When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain, [main.
SECTION V. Of Abruptness,
Abruptness signifies the sudden and full discharge of sound in contradistinction to its more gradual and melodious emission. It resembles in some degree the discharge of fire arms, and from its sudden and explosive force, has, when properly introduced in speech, a powerful and rocistless effect. It occurs
only in the enunciation of emphatic words, highly charged with violence and passion, and is not susceptible of an exhibition on
These are the fundamental principles of Modulation; and few and simple as they are, they constitute, in a state of combination, the whole phenomena of speech. And could the orator wield them at his pleasure, he would be capable of producing almost any desired emotion. For as the stringed instrument, when touched at given points, and in given forms, infallibly produces certain tunes; so the human mind, when touched by certain modulations, as infallibly receives certain impressions. The faculty, then, of forming these modulations, constitutes the chief power of oratory. And although an attempt to discribe the combinations of simple elements, so as to excite all the passions of the human mind, would be inconsistent with the object and limits of the present work; I trust an attempt at such a description, will at no distant period be made. This is what the orator in all past time has wanted, and what I am confident may be successfully accomplished.
I have long believed that the voice, in combining these principles, may be so managed as to produce any given feeling in the hearer; and every renewed examination of the subject has tended to confirm the belief. Certain modulations of the voice invariably proceed from certain states of feeling, and the same modulations will as invariably produce the same emotions. Joy, says a learned author, always expresses itself in the major key: sadness in the minor. In the tones of woe we recognize the minor third, and in those of joy and exultation, the harmony of the major. If four minor thirds be combined, they form the chord of the extreme flat seventh, which excites fear and alarm. When the minor third forms the seventh of the relative key, it loses much of the melancholy which before had characterized it, and becomes highly simpathetic. This we never fail to utter in moments of the greatest interest, and it may be regarded as the most affecting chord in music.
That given effects will be produced by given movements of the voice, will be perceived from the following examples. If the pitch passes by regular degrees through the interval of one tone on each syllable, in the range of three notes, it forms the movement of unimpassioned conversation. If it passes from the lowest note, in a continued line, to the third note, it forms a simple interrogative. If it moves in the same manner to the fifth note, the inquiry becomes more intense; and if it passes to the eighth note, the intensity of the interrogation is still inCreased. This will appear from an application of the voice to
the annexed diagram. But if the voice moves downward through the same degrees, it becomes positive and mandatory; and this expression is increased in exact proportion to the extent of the downward movement. This also will appear by a similar experiment on the same scale. But should the voice rise one degree at a time, in its approach to emphatic words, and then suddenly rise a third, a fifth, or an octave, in the enunciation of those words, and immediately descend to a level with its original pitch, it will leave upon the ear the impression of emphasis; and the impression will be in exact proportion to the range of pitch. This will be distinctly perceived in the following passage, if the word back is read in the 3d, 5th, and 8th notes, respectively. "Art thou that traitor angel; art thou he who first broke peace in heaven and faith, till then unbroken? Back to thy punishment, false fugitive, and to thy speed add wings." And, if to a sudden depression of pitch, you add quick movement, you form the parenthetical modulation.
Did you speak to it?
Fairest of stars, last in the train of night,
(If better thou belong not to the dawn,
Sure pledge of day, that crown'st the smiling morn
With thy bright circlet) praise him in thy sphere,
ing to the
Bising to the
Rising to the
If the voice moves in quick time, on high pitches, with harsh quality, it expresses anger and rage.
Back to thy punishment,
False fugitive, and to thy speed add wings,
Thy ling'ring, or with a stroke of this dart
Strange horror seize thee, and pangs unfelt before..
If to quick time and a wide range of pitches, be superadded the circumflex in pronouncing the emphatic words, the mingled passions of contempt and rage are expressed.
If you have writ your annals true, 'tis there
That like an eagle in a dove-cote, I
If we wish to substitute scorn for contempt, we have only to give the emphatic word, a higher range of pitch.
Reckon'st thou thyself with spirits of heav'n,
The voice commencing with a high pitch, and passing downward through a wide interval on the emphatic words, with harsh quality, expresses revenge.
If any spark of life be yet remaining,
Down, down to HELL and say I sent thee thither.
Long quantity, slow rate, and the movement of the voice through a circumflex of the semitone, express love and its kindred passions.
Love-O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Pity-Pardon me thou bleeding piece of earth,
Grief and Sorrow-Ay, madam, it is common!
Aspirations of the voice, with some abruptness, and quick and slow time, according to the intensity of the feeling, express fear, terror and surprize.
Fear with earnestness-Ah! do you fear it?
Terror-The light burns blue. It is now dead midnight. Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh.
Deeply depressed pitches, with quick or slow time, according to the more or less predominance of pensiveness, express