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VOCAL CULTURE.

CHAPTER I.

THE ORGANS OF VOICE.

A LABORED and minute description of the organs of the human voice, would be incompatible with the design of a brief and practical work, such as this. Nor is an exact anatomical knowledge of these parts of the human frame, or a profound investigation of the physiology of their functions, essential to the purposes of culture. All that is aimed at, in the following observations, is to impart such an idea of organic structure and action, as is indispensable to an intelligent, voluntary use of the vocal organs.

To examine the corporeal mechanism of speech, we commence with a survey of the trunk of the body, the great cavity, or main pipe, of vocal sound, and the seat of the principal apparatus whose motions give origin to voice. As the first step in our investigation, then, we wish to withdraw the student's attention entirely from the tongue, the mouth, and the throat, — the immediate, and, as it were, conscious instruments of utterance, and to fasten the thoughts on the sources of voice, the unconscious, and, in part, the involuntary, action of the muscles which enlarge and compress the cavity of the organic frame, and render it a resonant body.

The production of vocal sound, is, to a certain extent, identical with the function of breathing. A person in health, and free from pain, breathes without any perceptible sound, but that gentle whispering effect which is produced by inspiration and expiration, — drawing in, and giving

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tion and depression of its parts, - the process by which tone is rendered grave or acute.

12. The arytænoid cartilages, so called, from their fancied resemblance in shape, to a ladle, funnel, or pitcher. These fill up the space at the back of the thyroïd and cricoïd cartilages, and are connected with both ; while they serve also as points of support and of tension, for the vocal chords.

13. The thyroïd cartilage, which has its name from its partial resemblance to the form of a buckler, or shield, but much bent. Its two main plates form the walls, or sides, of the larynx; and their size usually determines the capacity of the voice, as we observe, in their comparative smallness in females and children, and their great expansion and projection in men.

The comparative solidity of texture, in all these component portions of the larynx, and in the gristly rings of which the trachea is itself composed, give them the power dering the voice compact and sonorous.

14. The vocal chords, which extend across the upper part of the larynx, and form the lips of the glottis, and by their vibration, together with the action of the current of air expelled through the trachea and larynx, produce the phenomena of vocal sound or voice, and, by their tension or remission, the effect of high or low pitch.

15. The glottis, so denominated from the partial resemblance of its shape to that of the tongue, is a small chink, or opening, which forms the mouth of the larynx. The opening and the contraction of this portion of the vocal apparatus, decide, in part, the gravity or the shrillness of tone.

All the parts of the larynx are interconnected by ligaments, and by muscles which move in concerted action, so as to expand or contract, extend or relax the whole larynx, and thus enlarge or diminish its capacity, and elevate or depress the pitch of the voice, and increase or diminish its force. The whole interior of the larynx is lined with a continuation of the mucous membrane of the mouth, which imparts to it a vivid sensibility and a unity of action. Hoarseness is the result of the embarrassment or obstruction of this membrane, by the mucous accumulations arising from colds or catarrh, or the injudicious habit of using cold water too freely, during the exercise of speaking.

16. The epiglottis, the movable valve, or lid, which covers and guards the glottis, or orifice of the larynx, by closing down over it, when the act of swallowing takes place. At other times it stands erect, and allows free ingress and egress to the breath. Its depression and its erigation are also the great means of imparting clearness, precision, and force to the initial part of vocal sounds,- as may be observed in the energetic utterance of public speaking, — by enabling the speaker to compress and suddenly explode the articulate sounds of the voice.

17. At the root of the tongue, lies a small crescent-shaped or horseshoe-formed bone, called, from its resemblance to the Greek letter v, the hyoïd, or u-like bone. This member serves, by its firm texture, as a gateway from the trachea and larynx to the mouth, or from the latter to the former. It forms a point of tension for the muscles which connect the larynx with the mouth. Its hard texture enables it to perform this office effectually, and thus to aid in giving pitch to vocal sounds.

18. The thyro-hyoïdean membrane connects the thyroïd cartilage with the instrument just described, and facilitates the functions of both, in elevating or depressing the pitch of the voice.

19. The crico-thyroïd ligament, attaches, as its name implies, the cricoïd to the thyroïd cartilage; and (20.) the cricothyroïd muscle facilitates their consentaneous movement,

in the production of vocal sound, acute or grave.

21. The pharynx, or swallow, situated immediately behind the larynx, although not directly concerned in the production of sound, has, — by resonant space, a great effect on its character. Persons in whom this organ is large, have usually a deep-toned voice; those in whom it is small, have comparatively a high pitch. When it is allowed to interfere with the sound of the voice, through negligence of habit, or bad taste, it causes a false and disagreeable guttural swell in the quality of the voice.*

22. The nasal passages. Through these channels the breath is inhaled in the usual tranquil function of breathing. The innermost part of the nostrils, is united into one resonant channel, and opens into the back part of the mouth, behind the “veil,” or pendent and movable part, of the palate, which serves as a curtain to part the nasal arch from the anterior part of the mouth.

* For a full and highly instructive statement of the effect of the pharynx on utterance, see a " Treatise on the Diseases and Hygiène of the Organs of the Voice, by Colombat de l'Isère.” Translated by Dr. J. F. W. Lane, and published by Otis, Broaders, & Co. Boston.

23. The internal tubes of the ears. Above the valve of the orifice of the windpipe, on each side of the root of the tongue, is a small opening, leading to a tube which communicates with the ear, and whose orifice is always opened, in the act of opening the mouth. These tubes have a great effect in rendering vocal tone clear and free; as is perceived in the case of obstructions arising from disease, from accident, or from cold, which impart a dull and muffled sound to the voice. “The ear," says an eminent writer on this subject, “ being formed of very hard bone, and containing the sonorous membrane of the drum, the sound of the voice entering it, through the air-tubes, must necessarily be increased by its passage along what may be termed the whispering galleries of the ear."

The effect of these passages, as conductors of vocal sound, may be traced in the fact, that the middle and innermost parts of the nostrils, open into several hollows, or cells, in the adjacent bones of the face and forehead. By this arrangement, the whole cavity of the head is rendered subservient to the resonance of the voice. That degree of clear, ringing, bell-like sound, which is so obvious a beauty of the human voice, seems to be dependent on this circumstance. Hence, too, the stifled tone caused by obstruction arising from cold, from accident, from the deleterious effect of snuff-taking, or from mal-formation of organic parts.

The fault of utterance which is termed nasal tone, arises from lowering too far the veil of the palate,

the membrane which separates the mouth from the nasal passages, and raising too high the root of the tongue, in producing a vocal sound. The consequence of these errors, is, that an undue proportion of breath is forced against the nasal passages, and that these organs are at once overcharged, and obstructed. Hence the forced and false resonance which constitutes “ nasal ” tone.

24. The cavity, and, more particularly (25) the roof, or ridgy arch, of the mouth, in the anterior part of it, together with (26) the palate, and (27) the veil, or pendent and movable part of the palate, and (28) the uvula, or the terminating tag of the veil of the palate, in the back part of the mouth, as well as (29) the upper gum, and (30) the teeth, in the fore part of it, all serve important purposes in modifying the sound of the voice, and aiding the function of speech.

The most satisfactory mode of forming a correct idea of these organs, is, to inspect the interior of the mouth, by the use of a looking-glass. In this way, the position and action of all these parts, in the function of speech, may be distinctly observed.

The mouth, by its form and structure, exerts a great influence in moulding the sound of the voice. It serves at once to give it scope, and partial reverberation. It gives sweetness and smoothness to tone; as we perceive in contrasting the voice duly modified by it, with that which loses its softening effect, in undue nasal ring, or guttural suffocation.

To give the voice the full effect of round, smooth, and agreeable tone, the free use of the cavity of the mouth, is indispensable: the whole mouth must be thrown open, by the unimpeded action and movement of the lower jaw. A smothered, imperfect, and lifeless utterance, is the necessary consequence of restraint in the play of this most effective implement of speech. A liberal opening of the mouth, is the only condition on which a free and effective utterance can be produced.

31. The tongue. The various positions and movements of this organ, are the chief means of rendering vocal sound articulate, and thus converting it into speech. They exert, at the same time, a powerful influence on the quality of the voice, by contracting or enlarging the cavity of the mouth, and giving direction to vocal sound: it is the position and action of the root of the tongue, which render the voice guttural, nasal, or oral, in its effect on the ear.

30. The teeth. These instruments, by their hard and sonorous texture, serve to compact and define the volume of the voice, while they aid one of the important purposes of distinct articulation, in the function of speech. Used with exact adaptation to their office, they give a clear and distinct character to enunciation ; but, remissly exerted, they cause a course hissing, resembling the sibilation of the inferior animals.

32. The lips. These important aids to articulation, not only give distinctness to utterance, but fulness of effect to the sounds of the voice. Imperfectly used, they produce an obscure mumbling, instead of definite enunciation; and, too slightly parted, they confine the voice within the mouth and throat, instead of giving it free egress and emissive force. In vigorous speech, rightly executed, the lips are

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