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consists in what may be termed oral tone. It is the slight ineffective voice of indifference, of feebleness, or fatigue, or the mincing tone of false taste. It causes the vocal sound to issue from the mouth, in a style which seems to make it lose all connexion with the throat and the chest, and consequently to lose all its natural depth and fulness.
Without these last-mentioned properties, no voice can ever sound earnest or sincere in utterance. Hence we ob
“ oral” tone always ascribed to the languid beauty or the trifling fop. — The full expansion of the chest, and the vigorous, appulsive action of the abdominal muscles, which ensures the energetic expulsion of the breath, — together with the cultivation of the lower notes of the scale, in the habits of utterance, are the chief correctives of the tendency to the fault of the slender “oral” tone. The musician, it is true, denominates purity of utterance by the phrase “ headtone.” But, in the usages of music, this phrase is not strict or exclusive, in its application : it is used rather in contradistinction to the false and impure tones of the throat and the chest, -the guttural and the pectoral. It is meant to designate that species of tone which rings clearly in the cavity of the head, by the head becoming, as it were, a sounding-board to reflect the voice downward, and secure, at the same time, the resonance of the chest, blended with that of the head.
False utterance, or impure tone, arises, in all instances, from the exclusive or undue use of one portion of the vocal organs, as is intimated in the designation of "pectoral,” "guttural,” or “nasal” tone. * True utterance and“ pure tone,” on the contrary, employ the whole apparatus of voice, in one consentaneous act, combining in one perfect sphere of sound, - if it may be so expressed, - the depth of effect produced by the resonance of the chest, the force and firmness imparted by the due compression of the throat, the clear, ringing property, caused by the due proportion of nasal effect, and the softening and sweetening influence of the head and mouth.
* These terms are used not in strict propriety, - as the larynx is the immediate source of all vocal sounds, but for ihe description of apparent effects.
All voices, trained to this appropriate union of qualities, become pleasing to the ear, and produce dignity of effect. Genuine cultivation secures these properties, as habits of the voice, from childhood upward, or restores them when, through inadvertency, they have been lost. But, to preserve or recover them, much training and much preparatory discipline become necessary. Exercises such as form the preliminary steps in the study of vocal music, are among the readiest and surest means of attaining that skill in the management and control of the organs and the breath, which is indispensable to purity of tone. See, for this purpose, the exercises and directions imbodied in the Appendix to this volume.
“Pure tone” exists in two forms, " subdued," and "moderate" force : the former implying the repressing power of an emotion which quiets utterance; the latter being, as its name implies, a medium of style.
The elocutionary practice best adapted to the formation of pure and smooth quality of voice, in the “subdued” form, consists principally in careful repetition of the tabular exercises on the “ tonic" elements of the language, and the utterance of syllables and words, containing long vowels, and in the reading and recitation of passages of poetry marked by the prevalence of the expressive tones of pathos, solemnity, and tranquillity, as here exemplified.
The following exercises should be practised with the closest attention to the perfect purity of vocal sound, as associated with the spirit of deep-felt but gentle emotion. The perfect tranquillity and regularity of the breathing, and the cautious and sparing emission of the breath, are points of the utmost moment to the pure and perfectly liquid formation of voice. The mode of utterance required in the following exercises is “effusion," — not "expul
explosion," - a gentle, continuous emission of sound, articulate, but very soft; as it is always the utterance of subdued and chastened emotion.
Erample 1. Pathos.
His dark locks on his brow,
We'll not disturb them now !
“Tread lightly! for 't is beautiful,
That blue-veined eyelid's sleep,
death left so dull ; Its slumber we will keep !”
2.- Solemnity. " This is the place, the centre of the
grove; Here stands the oak, the monarch of the wood : How sweet and solemn is this midnight scene! The silver moon unclouded holds her way Through skies where I could count each little star ; The fanning west wind scarcely stirs the leaves ; The river, rushing o'er its pebbled bed, Imposes silence with a stilly sound. In such a place as this, at such an hour,If ancestry may be in aught believed, Descending spirits have conversed with man, And told the secrets of the world unknown.”
Even like a living thing,
That streamlet's murmuring?
"Oh! that this lovely vale were mine!
My years would gently glide ;
By peace be sanctified ! "
” is gentle
Perfect purity of tone is indispensable not only to the effect of "subdued” force, which corresponds to the gentle style of passages marked "piano " in music, and has been exemplified in the preceding exercises, but, likewise, to that degree of force which may be termed moderate, in tradistinction to the energetic style of declamation, the bold tones of impassioned recitation, or, on the other hand, the suppressed or softened utterance of subdued emotion. “ Moderate force" is a convenient designation of the usual utterance of didactic sentiment, in the form of essays or scientific and literary discourses, doctrinal and practical sermons, and other forms of address, not distinguished by vivid narration, graphic description, or impassioned feeling.
The style of utterance in the “ moderate " force of “pure tone,”
expulsion,” with a clear “radical movement,” which keeps it from subsiding into mere “effusion," and yet does not extend to “explosion.” The degree of force implied in this technical use of the word " moderate,” is merely that which audible utterance, distinct articulation, and intelligible expression, demand for the ordinary purposes of public speaking, in those forms which address themselves to the understanding rather than the heart, and in which the speaker's great object in communication, is to be understood, rather than to be felt. “Pure tone" is, in these circumstances, of the utmost value to easy, distinct, and appropriate utterance; and any departure from it not only jars upon the ear, but impairs the clearness of the speaker's articulation, and detracts from the proper dignity of public address, — an exercise usually implying culture and taste on the part of the speaker.
Another consideration of great moment, in connexion with this branch of elocution, is the unspeakable advantage of "pure tone,” as a relief to the organs of the reader or speaker. The voice which obeys the laws of “pure tone," easily fills a vast space. The organic act becomes, in such cases, a spontaneous emission of sound, - like the act of singing, when appropriately performed, — free from every jarring, agitating, irregular impulse, and therefore not attended with labor or fatigue. The skilful public speaker, like the skilful singer, gives forth his voice in those clear, smooth and pure tones which make the function of utterance a pleasure and not a pain, and which make organic exertion a salutary instead of an unhealthful process. It is as true of speech as of any other muscular process,
that appropriate practice gives "the sleight” of execution, in consequence of which, powerful and long-sustained exertion is rendered an easy task.
“Moderate force,” as a technical designation in elocution, exhibits pure tone in the following gradations.
1. “ Grave" Style. The grave” style differs from the “solemn” in the fact that the former is not marked by “ effusive subdued” force, but on the contrary, assumes something of the “expulsive" tone of firmness and authority, although in a gentle and moderate style. The “grave” style differs farther from the “solemn," in not descending to so low a pitch, as solemnity is not so deep-toned in its utterance as awe, nor awe so deep as horror.
The disturbing cause which usually vitiates the purity of tone in “grave" style, is a false, hollow, pectoral voice, which merely murmurs in the chest, without coming forth impressively to the ear. The deep effect of solemnity, or the sepulchral tone of horror, is, in this way, sometimes produced instead of the moderate character of a merely grave
» utterance. The learner, after having practised the example of “grave” style, should repeat, in that tone, all the “ tonic" elements, - then, a selection from the tabular exercises on words ; so