Page images
PDF
EPUB

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.

Panting. Panting, as a natural act, in a highly excited state of 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.

ANALYSIS OF “SLIDES.”

Before proceeding to the study of the other forms of the “ slide," it will be an important aid to definite ideas and appropriate applications of those which have been exemplified, to pause here, and review the practice of the forms of “ concrete " and * radical pitch," on elementary sounds, on syllables, and words, and to add a thorough and extensive course of practice on all gradations of the “ slide," but especially its three chief forms, – the “ third,'' “ fifth,” and “OCtave," both upward and downward. .

The following diagram may be used as an ocular suggestion, to prompt and regulate the ear; each character being intended to represent the sound of an element, syllable, or word. The exercise commences with a slide of the “ second," the usual interval, in “ concrete pitch," between the “ radical ” and the " vanish ” of an element, — as uttered in the common progression of the unemphatic and inexpressive “ melody" of speech or reading, and extends through all other intervals to that of the “ octave.The forms which are of most frequent occurrence in reading, are repeated separately.

The bulb of each character in the diagram, represents the “radical," — the stem, the “ vanish.”

But it will be of great use, as a matter of practice, with a view to facility in the command of the voice, to add to the sound of the " slide,” the effects of “ effusion," " expulsion,” and “ explosion ;' “ radical,” “ median," " vanishing,'* " compound,” - thorough stress,” and “ tremor;" together with those of “ pure tone," " orotund," and "aspiration ;” and all stages of force, from the softest “ subdued,” to that of “ shouting.”

The “ slide" being, in speech and reading, the only means of marking to the ear the peculiar character of many emotions, and the distinctions of thought and language, as well as the relative portions of sentences ; the frequent practice of this element of vocal expression, becomes exceedingly important. Equally so is a discriminating and appropriate use of the “slide.” Speech or reading, divested of its aid, becomes merely mechanical, unmeaning articulation; as we observe the fact in the syllabic reading of little children.

I. Scale of Progressive Upward and Downward Slides :" from the

Secondto the Octave." I

II. “Upward Slideof the “Second.

III. “Uprard Slideof the Third.

IV. Upward Slideof the Fifth.

V. “Upward Slideof the Octave.

VI. Alternate Slidesof the Third.

VII. Alternate "Slidesof the Fifth.

VIII. Alternate Slidesof the Octave.

1 The lowest “radical” on these diagrams, is set, for convenience sake, on E on the "first line” of the tenor clef. But, to avoid the disagreeable

The unmeaning style so often and justly complained of in school reading, and, sometimes, in professional performances, is, to a great extent, owing to want of perception in regard to the nature and effect of the slide.”

Persons who know what an expenditure of time and labor is requisite, to train the organs to clear and just execution, and even to correct intonation, in vocal music, will not be surprised at the extent of practice suggested in this department of elocution. Nor is there any branch of the subject in which close application and persevering practice are more sure of an ample reward. The ability to read aright the plainest passage of narrative, descriptive, or didactic writing, is wholly dependent on the just and discriminating use of the " slide."

THE “WAVE,” OR “CIRCUMFLEX." One of the natural modes of " expression," in the “ melody of speech," is, in the language of peculiar emotion, or marked distinction, the use of a double “ slide,” the upward and the downward on the same sound. This mode of voice, called the “ wave,” is the characteristic utterance of sarcasm, mockery, raillery, and other intense and keen emotions: it marks, likewise, the expression of humor, irony, and wit, and pungent antithesis, whether serious or humorous. In its lowest perceptible form, it aids the "swell” or “median stress” of solemn and sublime feeling. The " wave,” like the single “ slide,” exists in all varieties of effect, from the slightest undulation of solemnity, in the interval of the " second,” (or the “concrete” downward transition from one note of the scale to the next below,) to the “ third,” “ fifth," and "octave.” The “ wave' is termed " direct," when it slides first upward and then downward; “ inverted," when the “ downward slide” precedes, and the “ upward” follows. It is termed “ equal,” when the “ slides” are of equal height and depth ; the upward and the downward being each a " third,” • fifth," or " octave :" .. unequal," when the one « slide" traverses a wider interval of the scale than the other; the upward, for example, being a “ third," and the downward, an "octave." Grave and sedate feeling, or the affectation of such feeling, inclines to the use of the “ equal wave ;” keen and sarcastic expression prefers the “ unequal wave,” from its greater pungency to the ear.

This element of expression, is one of the most impressive in the whole range of vocal effect. It gives, in its subdued form, a susiained dignity and grandeur to utterance, without which the longdrawn sounds of solemnity, would sink into monotony and feebleness. Sarcastic and ironical expression cannot be given without it. Close distinctions of sense and meaning, lose their point and discrimination,

falsette of E in the “ fourth space,” in some male voices, it may be advisable to pitch the lowest radical, in execution, on C on the “first leger line below." This change will cause no hinderance in practice; as the intervals 're not affected by it, and the slides, consequently, remain the same relatively.

when deprived of it. Wit and humor cease to exist to the ear, if the ambiguous and equivocal, or graphic effect of the wave," is dropped.

An intelligent and discriminating use of this element, is indispensable, however, to its right effect. Adopted too frequently, and expressed too pointedly, it offends the ear; as it implies a want of skill on the part of the reader or speaker, and a want of perception on that of the hearer. It forms, when given in excess, the striking feature in overdone emphasis, or that which seems, by its obtrusiveness, to forestall the judgment of the person who is addressed, and compel his perceptions. It is the usual resort of the author of a pun so poor, that, without his syllabic and waving enunciation, you could not have surmised its existence.

The " wave” exists sometimes, as a mere local accident of usage, in what is termed national accent. The dialects of Scotland and of New England, furnish striking examples of the unmeaning prevalence of the 6 wave.” The popular “ Yankee story," and, not unfrequently, the emphasis of well-educated people, abound in instances of this local intonation.

The use of the wave” should be carefully practised, in the spirit of the closest analysis, on the following examples, and, in its principal forms, applied to “ tonic" elements, long syllables, and expres sive words and phrases.

EXAMPLES
I. — The Equal Wave.

Solemnity and Sublimity. (“Effusive orotund :" "Subdued” force: Full and prolonged “median swell :” “Low pitch :” “Equal wave of the second." The "wave" so slight as barely to be discernible.)

“1.- FROM THE MORNING HYMN. Milton.
“ His ' praise, ye winds that from four quarters blow,
Breathe soft or loud ; and wave your tops, ye pines,
With every plant, in sign of worship wave!

2.- FROM AN EVENING HYMN.-H. M. Williams.

“ While Thee I seek, protecting Power!

Be my vain wishes stilled;
And may this consecrated hour

With better hopes be filled!”

i The "wave ” occurs on the letters denoted by italic type.

Pointed Antithesis. Serious Expression.

1. (« Pure tone :” “ Animated” force : - Radical and median stress :"

“Middle Pitch :” “Equal wave of the third.")

MORAL TO A FABLE. --Jane Taylor. “Let any man resolve to do right now leaving thěn to do as it can : and if he were to live to the age of Methuselah, he would never do wrong.–But the commun error is to resolve to act right after breakfast, or after dînner, or to-mòrrow môrning, or next třme. But now, just now, this Ônce, we must go on the same as ever.”

(" Pure tone :" " Moderate" force, “grave” style : “ Median stress :" “ Middle pitch :"' « Equal wave of the third.")

Chance. --Shakspeare.

“ Alas! the while !
If Hercules, and Lichias, play at dîce
Which is the better man, the greater thrów
- May turn by fortune from the weaker hand.”
Pointed Antithesis. Half-humorous Style.

3. (“Pure tone :” “ Animated” force : “Median stress :" " Middle pitch :")

“Equal wave of the third.") ROMAN CITIZEN, MURMURING AGAINST THE PATRICIANS. - Shakspeare.

“We are accounted poor citizens; the patrựcians gôod. What authôrity súrfeits on, would relieve ûs. If they would yield us but the superfluity, while it were whỏlesome, we might guess they relieved us humânely; but they think we are too dêar: the leanness that afflicts us, the object of our misery, is an inventory to particularize thèir abûndance: ôur sufferance is a găin to thêm. — Let us revenge this with our pîkes, ere we become råkes: for the gods know I speak this in hûnger for bread, not in thịrst for revenge.

1 The " direct wave” is marked by the usual circumflex accent, the "inverted wave," by an inverted circumflex.

« PreviousContinue »