Page images

cessarily minute. But exactness in articulation cannot exist without close discrimination and careful analysis. Many of the worst errors in the enunciation of words, are owing to slight oversights about the true sound of a letter. Without strict attention to details, there can, in this particular, be no security for accurate execution. The very common error, for example, of reading or singing the word faith as if it were written “ fai-eeth,is merely an act of negligence regarding the " vanish," or final portion of sound in the diphthong, ai, which, — although it is unavoidably analyzed by the voice, in the utterance of singing, to a greater extent than in that of reading, -should never be dissected, in the unnatural style which has just been mentioned.

We have omitted, as will have been observed, that part of Dr. Rush's analysis which presents the “ tonic" elements a, as in awe, (identical with a, in all,) a in arm, and a in an, as diphthongal. Correct reading and appropriate singing, alike forbid the “ vanish” of these sounds to be rendered apparent to the ear. It is one of the acknowledged improprieties of enunciation, which permits the word awe to terminate in any form approaching,

even in the most distant degree, the negligent style of awer."

Let it be admitted that the “vanish,” or final portion of the sound, in such elements, is but an unavoidable, accidental“ vocule," inseparably attached to the “radical” or initial sound; and it becomes, from its very nature, a thing which judgment and taste would alike require to be sunk out of notice to the ear.

The preceding arrangement of the elementary sounds of the language, as presented by Dr. Rush, exhibits them in a manner very clear and distinct, as results of organic action, or as sounds formed by the voice. But to ascertain their character, with perfect accuracy of knowledge, for the purposes of vocal practice and culture, it becomes important to examine them closely, in connexion with the exact position and movement of the organs, during the process of execution.

Classified, in this light, the audible elements of our language, may be conveniently designated by the terms in use previous to Dr. Rush's arrangement. We will commence with the


These elements, generally, are formed by the act of “expiration” modified into vocality by the larynx, and the adjcining organs, aided by the tongue, the palate, the lips, &c., which give definite and distinctive character to the sounds of the voice, as rudiments of speech.

The enunciation of vowels and diphthongs, demands attention principally to the free and expansive opening of the mouth, together with a strict attention to the action of the particular organ, or organs, by which each element receives its peculiar character as a definite sound. Much attention, in the execution of these sounds, is required to the action of the organs at the moment of commencing and at that of closing each sound. The sound of the voice in the utterance of the first audible portion of articulate sounds, Dr. Rush has termed the “radical,” (initial,) movement: the sound uttered in the concluding portion of an articulation he has termed the “vanishing,” (final,) movement. Each of these points of articulate sound, demands the closest discrimination, as regards both the voice, and the motion or action of the organs.

If the latter is not exact, the former will be more or less incorrect or vague, confused, and indefinite. The “radical” movement always demands clearness, force, precision, and spirit, in the execution : the “vanish” requires nice and delicate finish, perfect exactness, but no undue marking or prominence. It should resemble, in its effect on the ear, that of a light but definite touch on the piano.

“ In just articulation, the words are not to be hurried over, nor precipitated, syllable over syllable; nor, as it were, melted together into a mass of confusion : they should be neither abridged, nor prolonged, nor swallowed, nor forced, and, — if I may so express myself, — shot from the mouth : they should not be trailed nor drawled, nor let slip out carelessly, so as to drop unfinished. They are to be delivered out from the lips, as beautiful coins newly issued from the mint, deeply and accurately impressed, perfectly finished, neatly struck by the proper organs, distinct, sharp, in due succession, and of due weight.”

The precision and force of the “radical” portion of a sound, are gained by deep inspiration, and a preliminary rallying,

* Austin's Chironomia, pp. 38, 39.

or gathering of impulse on the organs,

somewhat as we brace the muscles before the exercise of jumping or diving,

- and then causing an instantaneous explosion of the accumulated and compacted breath, in the form of clear, cutting sound. In practising the following elements, this explosive, radical movement should be carried up from the slightest style of a suppressed cough to the most violent exertion, or the loudest style of coughing. The preliminary practice of a repeated actual cough is the best preparatory discipline for the species of organic action which constitutes the “radical” portion of any articulate sound.

VOCAL AND DIPHTHONGAL ELEMENTS, corresponding to the "tonics” of Dr. Rush, and executed principally by the action of the larynx, with the mouth more or less open. I. Simple Sounds. 11. 0-r;

12. O-n.
1. A-ll;
2. A-rm;

II. Compound Sounds.
3. A-n;
4. E-ve;

13. A-le; (original element 5. 00-ze;

and 4.) « L-oo-k;

14. I-ce; (3. and 4.) 6. E-rr;

15. Old; (original element 7. E-nd;

and 5.) 8. I-n;

16. Ou-r; (10. and 5.) 9. Ai-r;

17. Oi-l; (16. and 8.) 10. U-p;

18. U-se; (4. and 5.)

CONSONANTAL ELEMENTS, corresponding to the “ subtonic” and “ atonic" sounds in the classification of Dr. Rush.

I. Labial Sounds. These are, — in consonance with their designation, formed by the action of the lips. They may be enumerated as follows:

1, B-a-be;

4. W-oe; 2. P-i-pe;

5. * V-al-ve; 3. M-ai-m;

6. F-i-fe. The“ subtonic,” b, is formed by a firm compression of the lips, which arrests the escape of the breath, and causes, by this occlusion of the mouth, a murmuring resonance of the voice in the cavity of the chest, and in the interior of the head and mouth. The pressure of the lips, in the formation of this sound, is increased to a maximum, or chief point, at which the lips are suddenly opened, and a slight explosive effect produced, which consummates the character of the sound, and causes a vocule,” or slight and obscure vowel sound, resembling e, in err, to follow the effort

of the organs.

The "atonic," p, is produced by an intense compression of the lips, which prevents the possibility of any audible sound, till the forcible "aspirated," or whispering, explosion, following the maximum of the pressure, is heard, accompanied by the same vocule” which attends the sound of b, but, in p, is only an aspiration, or whisper.

The precision of these two elements of speech, is dependent, wholly, on the full force of the labial compression, and the intensity of the following explosion, by which they are produced. In impassioned utterance, the force of the organic action, in the articulation of these sounds, must be carried to the utmost degree, and executed with instantaneous precision, and the most vivid effect.

The “subtonic," m, is articulated by a very gentle compression of the lips, attended by a murmur in the head and chest, resembling, somewhat, that which forms the character of the “subtonic" b, but differing from it in the sound being accompanied by a free, steady, equable "expiration" through the nostrils. In extremely empassioned utterance, this gentle element is made to assume the character of intensity, by increasing the force of the labial compression to a maximum, and exploding the sound in a manner similar to that of b. This element is not followed, as b or P, by a “ vocule;


distinctive character of sound, throughout, being very nearly of the “ tonic," or purely vocal, nature.

* This and the following element, being formed by means both of the lower lip and the upper teeth, are, on this account, sometimes called "labio-dentals.”


The “subtonic" element, w, as in woe, is formed by rounding the lips, as in articulating oo, in ooze, but slightly compressing them, and holding them closer to the teeth, a brief vocal murmur is formed by the breath, as modified by the larynx, - escaping through this partial opening of the lips, and, at the same time, in a very slight degree, through the nostrils. This sound has not, from its nature, much independent energy; neither does it admit of prolongation. But it becomes forcible and impassioned, to some extent, by increasing the pressure of the lips, and exploding the sound, somewhat in the manner of m and b, when rendered intense.

The “subtonic,” v, is articulated by the sound of the voice being modified by bringing the upper fore-teeth close upon the ridge of the under lip, and, at the same time, slightly raising the upper lip, so as to prevent its interfering with the contact of the upper fore-teeth and the lower lip. A murmuring resonance, bordering on aspiration, is thus produced in the head and chest, by the partial escape of breath between the teeth and the lip. This element, mentioned before, has, on this account, been sometimes denominated" labio-dental,” — from its dependence on both these organs.

The atonic,” f, is executed as v, with the difference, only, arising from a closer compression of the teeth and the lip, a more forcible expulsion of the breath, and an aspirated or whispering character, in the sound. This element, also, is sometimes denominated “labio-dental,” being formed as the preceding.



II. “ DentalSounds. These are all modified, as their name imports, — by the aid of the teeth. But, like many other articulate sounds, they are founded on, and imply, an action of the tongue; although this circumstance is not indicated in the designation of such elements. 1. D-i-d; ;

5. A-z-ure ; 2. T-en-t ;

6. Pu-sh; 3. Th-in;

7. C-ea-se; 4. TH-ine;

8. Z-one; Compound of 1. and 8. Compound of 2. and 6. 9. J-oy;

10. Ch-ur-ch.

« PreviousContinue »