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stomach. In vigorous utterance of a steady and sustained character, or in the energetic singing of long notes, a powerful and continued upward and inward pressure of the abdominal muscles, takes place, as in the attitude observed in swift riding on horseback.
2. The diaphragm, which by an upward impulse, consentaneous with that of the abdominal muscles, and imparted to the pleura, or enveloping membrane of the lungs, forces the breath from the aircells into the bronchi, and thence into the trachea and the larynx.
3. The thorax, the great cavity of the chest. By the expansion and compression of this capacious organ, the process of breathing is conducted ; and by its resonance, the voice receives depth and volume.
4. The intercostal muscles at the lower, and
5. The thoracic and pectoral muscles, at the upper part of the chest, serve to dilate and compress it, in the acts of breathing and of utterance.
6. The pleura, a membrane which envelopes the lungs, and propagates to their cells the impulse by which these are emptied of their successive supplies of air inhaled at the intervals of speaking or singing.
7. The lungs, a spongy body, in the form of lobes, into the cells, or little cavities, of which, the air inhaled in breathing, is drawn, and from which it is expelled by the impulse communicated, as mentioned before, by the pleura, and derived from the diaphragm and the abdominal muscles.
8. The bronchi, or two main branches of the trachea, or windpipe. These two tubes are themselves subdivided into many subordinate and minute ramifications, which serve to distribute to the air-cells of the lungs, — in which they terminate, – the breath inhaled through the trachea, and to convey that which is expelled from the lungs, by the impulsive action of the diaphragm, into the trachea, the larynx and the mouth. One important office of the bronchial ramifications, is to vibrate, and thereby aid in rendering vocal the column of air which is emitted from the cells of the lungs.
9. The trachea, or wind-pipe, a series of connected cartilaginous, or gristly, rings, forming the great air-tube, which receives and conducts the breath to and from the lungs, in the acts of inspiration and expiration, and in the function of utterance.
10. The larynx, a cartilaginous box, on the top of the trachea, the exterior projection of which is familiarly called the Adam's apple, in allusion to the fabled origin of this part, which was anciently said to have owed its existence to Adam's fatal offence in swallowing the forbidden fruit. The whole larynx is the immediate seat and general instrument of vocal sound. The portions of this organ, which are immediately concerned in the production of sound, are,
11. The cricoïd cartilage, situated immediately over the uppermost ring of the trachea, resembling, in form, a seal-ring, from which it takes its name, but having the broad part at the back, and the narrow in front. The form and position of this portion of the larynx, admit of the elevation and depression of its parts, - one step in the process by which tone is rendered grave or acute.
12. The arytænoïd 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 ligaments.
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 of rendering the voice compact and sonorous.
14. The vocal ligaments 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, raise or lower 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 valve, or lid, which, when the larynx is elevated, as in the act of swallowing, covers the glottis, or orifice of the windpipe, and prevents strangulation. Its usual erect position allows free ingress and egress to the breath. But, in some instances of intensely impassioned utterance, its pressure, against the glottis, becomes an additional preparative for the ultimate explosive eruption
17. At the root of the tongue, lies a small crescent-shaped or horseshoe-formed bone, called, from its resemblance to the Greek w, 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 thyroid 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 thyroid cartilage; and (20.) the crico-thyroïd muscle facilitates their consentaneous movement, in the production of vocal sound, acute or grave.
21. The pharynx, or swallow, situated immediately behind and above 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 portion of the mouth.
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 airtubes, 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 stified tone caused by obstruction arising from cold, from accident, from the deleterious effect of snuff-taking, or from malformation 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
1 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 pub. lished by Otis, Broaders, & Co., Boston.
errors, is that an undue proportion of breath is forced against the nasal passages, and that these urgans are at once overcharged, and obstructed. Hence, the twanging 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 arched 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.
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 coarse hissing, resembling the sibilation of the inferior animals.
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 influenee 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.
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 emisive force. In vigorous speech, rightly executed, the lips are 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, in impassioned utterance, by 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, parting, in the act, the glottis from 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. ADDITIONAL BREATHING EXERCISES.
Sighing. The following exercises may be practised in addition to those which are prescribed at the beginning of this volume.
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.
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.
Gasping. Gasping is an organic act corresponding somewhat to sobbing, but much more violent, as belonging to the expression of fierce emotions.