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slightly rounded, and even partially, though not boldly, projected. They thus become most effective aids to the definite projection and conveyance of vocal sound : they emit the voice well moulded, and, as it were, exactly aimed at the ear.
Figures 33 and 34 are intended to exhibit the effect of the epiglottis on the character of vocal sound, When the voice is thrown out with abruptness, or even with a clear, decided force and character of sound, there is first a momentary occlusion of the glottis, attended by the additional effect of the downward pressure of the epiglottis, (the lid of the glottis,) as in the act of swallowing: see figure 33. To this preparatory rallying of the muscular apparatus, and its accompanying effect of resistance, the natural preliminary to a powerful and sudden effort, succeeds an abrupt and instantaneous explosion of breath and sound, produced by the sudden upward impulse of the abdominal muscles and the diaphragm, acting on the pleura, and the air-cells of the lungs, and forcing the breath upward, through the bronchi and the trachea, to the larynx. The breath, thus impelled, bursts forth from the glottis, drives up the epiglottis, (34,) and issues from the mouth, in the form of vocal sound.
Such is the history of the function of vocal explosion, the inseparable characteristic of all impassioned utterance, and, in greater or less degree, accompanying all vivid expression, and all distinct articulation.
FUNCTION OF BREATHING.
The organs of voice, in common with all other parts of the bodily frame, require the vigor and pliancy of muscle, and the elasticity and animation of nerve, which result from good health, in order to perform their appropriate functions with energy and effect. But these indispensable conditions to the exercise of the vocal organs, are, in the case of most learners, very imperfectly supplied. A sedentary
mode of life, the want of invigorating exercise, close and long continued application of mind, and, perhaps, an impaired state of health, or a feeble constitution, prevent, in many instances, the free and forcible use of those muscles on which voice is dependent. Hence arises the necessity of students of elocution practising physical exercises, adapted to promote general muscular vigor, as a means of attaining energy in vocal functions; the power of any class of muscles, being dependent on the tone of the whole system.
The art of cultivating the voice, however, has, in addition to the various forms of corporeal exercise, practised for the general purpose of promoting health, its own specific prescriptions for securing the vigor of the vocal organs, and modes of exercise adapted to the training of each class of organs separately.
The results of such practice are of indefinite extent : they are limited only by the energy and perseverance of the student, excepting, perhaps, in some instances of imperfect organization. A few weeks of diligent cultivation, are usually sufficient to produce such an effect on the vocal organs,
persons whd commence practice, with a feeble and ineffective utterance, attain, in that short period, the full command of clear, forcible, and varied tone.
Gymnastic and calisthenic exercises are invaluable aids to the culture and development of the voice, and should be sedulously practised, when opportunity renders them accessible. But even a slight degree of physical exercise, in any form adapted to the expansion of the chest, and to the freedom and force of the circulation, will serve to impart energy and glow to the muscular apparatus of voice, and clearness to its sound.
There is, therefore, a great advantage in always practising some preliminary muscular actions, as an immediate preparation for vocal exercise. These actions may be selected from the system of preparatory movements, taught at gymnastic establishments; or they may be made to consist in regulated walking, with a view to the acquisition of a firm, easy, and graceful carriage of the body, with appropriate motion of the arms and limbs, - in the systematic practice of gesture, in its various forms, for the purpose of obtaining a free, forcible, and effective use of the arm, as a natural accompaniment to speech, — or in the practice of attitude and action combined, in the most vivid style of lyric
and dramatic recitation, so as to attain a perfect control over the whole corporeal frame, for the purposes of visible expression.
Some preliminary exercises, such as the preceding, having been performed, and a sufficient period for rest and tranquil breathing having elapsed, the next stage of preparatory action may be as in the following directions :
1. Attitude of the Body, and Position of the Organs.
Place yourself in a perfectly erect, but easy posture; the weight of the body resting on one foot; the feet at a moderate distance, the one in advance of the other ;
the arms akimbo : the fingers pressing on the abdominal muscles, in front, and the thumbs on the dorsal muscles, on each side of the spine; the chest freely expanded and fully projected ; the shoulders held backward and downward ; the head perfectly vertical.
2. Exercises in Deep Breathing. Having thus complied with the preliminary conditions of a free and unembarrassed action of the organs, draw in and give out the breath very fully, and very slowly, about a dozen times in succession. Let the breathing be deep and tranquil, but such as to cause the chest to rise fully, and fall freely, at every effort.
3. Exercise in “ Effusive," or tranquil Breathing. Draw in a very full breath, and send it forth in a prolonged sound of the letter h. In the act of inspiration, take in as much breath as you can contain. In that of expiration, retain all you can, and give out as little as possible, merely sufficient to keep the sound of h audible. But keep it going on, as long as you can sustain it. In this style of respiration, the breath merely effuses itself into the surround
* The object in view, in this apparently minute direction, is, to secure perfect freedom and repose of body. A constrained or a lounging posture, is utterly at variance with a free, unembarrassed use of the voice, or the production of a clear and full sound.
The strength of the individual must be left to regulate the frequency with which this exercise should be performed, in succession; half a dozen times will suffice at first.
4. Erercise in “ Erpulsive" or forcible Breathing. .
Draw in a very full breath, as before, and emit it, with a lively expulsive force, in the sound of h, but little prolonged, - in the style of a moderate whispered cough. The breath, in this style of expiration, is projected into the air. Repeat this exercise, as directed, in the statement preceding
5. Exercise in " Explosive" or abrupt Breathing. Draw in the breath, as already directed, and emit it with a sudden and violent explosion, in a very brief sound of the letter h, - in the style of an abrupt and forcible, but whispered cough. The breath is, in this mode of expiration, thrown out with abrupt violence. Repeat this exercise, as before directed.
6. Sighing Sighing, as a natural effort, designed to relieve the lungs and accelerate the circulation, when depressing emotions or organic impediments cause a feeling as if the breath were pent up, consists in a sudden and large inspiration and a full, strong, effusive expiration. In vocal training, it becomes a most efficacious means of free, unembarrassed respiration, and, consequently of organic energy and of full voice. It should be repeated as the other exercises, and practised both through the nostrils and the mouth; the former being its gentler, - the latter, its more forcible form. It should be practised, also, in the tremulous style of inspiration, in which the sigh resembles a series of prolonged and subdued sobs.
7. Sobbing. Sobbing, as an instinctive act, consists in a slightly convulsive, subdued and whispering gasp, by which an instantaneous supply of breath is obtained, when the stricture caused by the suffocating effect of grief, would otherwise obstruct or suspend too long the function of inspiration. The practice of the sob facilitates the habit of easy and rapid inspiration, and the expression of pathetic emotion.
8. Gasping. Gasping is an organic act corresponding somewhat to sobbing, but much more violent, as belonging to the expression of fierce emotions. Its effects as an exercise, in disciplining the organs, are very powerful, and its use in vehement expression in dramatic passages, highly effective, and, indeed, indispensable to natural effect.
9. Panting. Panting, as a natural act, in a highly excited state of the circulation, whether caused by extreme muscular exertion, or by intense emotion, consists in sudden and violent inspiration and expiration, the latter process predominating in force and sound. It is the only form of respiration practicable in high organic excitement. The practice of panting as an exercise, imparts energy to the function of respiration, and vigor to the organs. Its effect is inseparable from the expression of ardor, and intense earnestness in emotion.
The subjects thus far discussed in this manual, have been the mechanism of the vocal organs, and the preliminary exercises requisite for their training, as regards the function of respiration, which is antecedent to the exercise of voice, and determines the character of vocal sound. Our attention is now to be directed to the organic function of articulation, and to its audible result, which we term enunciation. It will be a matter of convenience, at the same time, to take into view the subject of pronunciation, or, in other words, enunciation as modified by the rules of sound and accent which are drawn from the usage of a particular language. To pronounce a word properly, implies that we enunciate correctly all its syllables, and articulate distinctly the sounds of its letters.
We commence with the study of articulation, as a func