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This form of utterance, -- the “ expulsive orotund,” – is one of the noblest functions of the human voice. It is this which gives to the ear the full effect of the majesty of man, as a being of heart and will and imagination. Without the full command of this property of utterance, the public reader or speaker falls short of whatever effect naturally belongs, in human speech, to the union of depth, force, and grandeur of emotion. The language of the loftier feelings of the soul, unaided by this natural advantage, becomes familiar, low, and trivial.
The forcible and manly eloquence of Demosthenes or of Chatham, divested of the full “expulsive" utterance of deep and powerful emotion, would become ridiculous in its effect on the ear and the imagination. The same would be true of the style of our own eminent contemporary and countryman, Webster. Depth, weight, and fulness of tone, form one powerful assemblage of effects, in all his utterance on great and exciting occasions.
To form the voice to the extent of the full property of “ expulsive orotund,” care should be taken to maintain a perfectly erect attitude of body, the chest fully expanded, and projected, and the shoulders depressed, - to maintain, also, a vigorous play of the abdominal muscles, and to practise the organic act of prolonged coughing, in a moderate form, which is the natural mechanical function most nearly resembling “ expulsive orotund." The elements of the language should be practised in a similar style; and to these exercises should be added the repeated and energetic practice of the following examples.
Practice on the “ crying " voice, or weeping utterance of sorrow, is another expedient for rendering nature's processes conducive to culture. The act of crying, being, in its mechanism, a perfect “ expulsive orotund.”
Examples of “Expulsive Orotund.”
From Webster's SPEECH OF John Adams. . “ Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, I give my hand and my heart to this vote!”
“Sir, before God, I believe the hour is come. My judg. ment approves this measure; and my whole heart is in it. All that I have, and all that I am, and all that I hope, in this life, I am now ready here to stake upon it; and I leave off, as I began, that, live or die, survive or perish, I am for the declaration. It is my living sentiment; and, by the blessing of God, it shall be my dying sentiment:- independence now, and INDEPENDENCE FOREVER!”
2.—“Impassioned" Poetic Style.
From Carey's Ode on ELOQUENCE.
From the fury of the blast!
Up! or Freedom breathes her last !”
3.- Weeping Utterance. (“Crying ” Voice.) PRINCE ARTHUR, (To HUBERT, WHOSE ATTENDANTS ARE BINDING THE PRINCE, FOR THE PURPOSE OF PUTTING OUT HIS EYES.] —Shakspeare
“ Alas! what need you be so boisterous rough?
4.- Shouting. RICHMOND TO HIS TROOPS. - Shakspeare. “ Advance your standards, draw your willing swords ! Sound drums and trumpets, boldly and cheerfully! God, and Saint George! Richmond and victory!”
III. "EXPLOSIVE OROTUND.” The “explosive” form of the “orotund” utterance, bears the same relation to “effusive” and “expulsive orotund,” that “explosion” in breathing or whispering, bears to “effusion” and “expulsion,” in those forms. It implies an instantaneous burst of voice with a quick, clear, sharp, and cutting effect on the ear.
This mode of voice proceeds from a violent and abrupt exertion of the abdominal muscles, acting on the diaphragm, and thus discharging a large volume of air, previously inhaled. The breath, in this process, is, as it were, dashed against the glottis or lips of the larynx, causing a loud and instantaneous explosion. In the act of “explosion,” the chink of the glottis is, for a moment, closed, and a resistance, at first, offered to the escape of the breath, by a firm compression of the lips of the larynx, and downward pressure of the epiglottis. After this instant pressure and resistance, follows the explosion caused by the appulsive act of the abdominal muscles and the diaphragm, propelling the breath, with powerful and irresistible volume, on the glottis, and epiglottis, which at length give way, and suffer the breath to escape, with a loud and sudden report, of a purely explosive character.
The preceding and accompanying state of the organs, in the act of “ explosion," sufficiently indicates the propriety of this mode of utterance being termed - orotund;" as it possesses all the depth, roundness, and fulness of the other forms of that “ quality,” which have been already discussed, and implies farther, that these are now compacted and condensed, to an extraordinary degree, so as to make the sound of the voice resemble, in its effect on the ear, that of a firm and hard ball striking against the surface of the body.
" Explosive orotund” is the language of intense passion : it is heard when the violence of emotion is beyond the control of the will, and a sudden ecstasy of terror, anger, or any other form of intensely excited feeling, causes the voice to burst forth involuntarily from the organs, with all the sudden and startling effect that would arise from its sound being forced out, by a sudden blow, applied to the back of the speaker. It exists only in the extremes of abrupt emotion, as in the burst of anger, or the shout of courage, and admits of no gradations.
This form of the human voice is one of the most impressive in its effect. By a law of our constitution, it acts with an instantaneous shock on the sympathetic nerve, and rouses the sensibility of the whole frame; it summons to instant action all the senses ; and in the thrill which it sends from nerve to brain, we feel its awakening and inciting power over the mind. With the rapidity of lightning it penetrates every faculty, and sets it instinctively on the alert. It seems designed by nature as the note of alarm to the whole citadel within the soul.
We hear the “explosive orotund quality" exemplified in the sudden alarm of fire, in the short and sharp cry of terror or of warning, at the approach of instant and great danger, in the eruptive curse of furious anger, in the abrupt exclamation of high-wrought courage, and in the burst of frantic grief. In reading and recitation, it belongs appropriately to the highest ecstatic effects of lyric and dramatic poetry, as the language of intense passion.
Without the full command of this element, emotion becomes lifeless and ineffective in tone; and the inspired language of the poet dies upon the tongue.
To gain the full command of “ explosive orotund” voice, the practice of the elements, of syllables, and words, in the tones of anger and terror, should be frequently repeated, along with the following and similar examples. A previous organic practice should also be repeatedly made, on the mechanical exercise of abrupt and loud coughing, which is the purest form of “ explosive orotund.” The vocal elements and syllabic combinations should be repeated in the form of a sudden cough, at the opening of each sound. Laughing, - in its strongest and fullest style, is another natural form of “ explosive orotund;" and the mechanical practice of the act is one of the most efficacious modes of imparting to the organs the power of instantaneous “ explosion,” required in the vivid expression of high-wrought feeling. These processes at once secure a vigorous state of the organs of voice, and a round and compacted form of sound. No exercise is so effectual for strengthening weak organs, or imparting energy to tone, as the “ explosive orotund” utterance. Like all other powerful forms of exertion, it should not, at first, be carried very far; neither should it be practised without a due interspersing of the gentler and softer exercises of voice. Pursued exclusively, it would harden the voice, and render it dry and unpleasing in its quality. Intermingled with the other modes of practice, it secures thorough-going force and clearness of voice, and permanent vigor and elasticity of organs.
Examples of “ Explosive Orotund.”
Ode to THE GREEKS. — Anon.
Strike for their sakes who bore you !
2. Anger. Antony, [TO THE CONSPIRATORS.) - Shakspeare. “ Villains ! you did not threat, when your vile daggers Hacked one another in the sides of Cæsar!
You showed your teeth like apes, and fawned like hounds,
FROM HALLECK'S Marco BOZZARIS.
4. Hurry and Commotion.
- MACBETH TO HIS OFFICER. — Shakspeare. “ Send out more horses,—skirr the country round;
Hang those that talk of fear!–Give me mine armor.”
The " qualities" of voice which are most frequently exemplified in reading and speaking, are those which have been defined and exemplified, under the designations of “pure tone” and “orotund." Deviations from purity of tone, are usually to be regarded as faults of inadvertency or of personal habit. Still, there are some classes of emotions, which, from their peculiar nature, require, as one element in their “expression," an aspirated quality," or that in which, from the forcible character of the feeling, operating with a corresponding effect on the organs, more breath is expelled from the trachea, in the act of utterance, than is converted into sound by the exertion of the larynx. The stream of air which the excited action of the expulsory muscles, throws out, under the influence of certain passions, becomes too wide and too powerful to be moulded by the glottis and controlled by the vocal chords, which, for the moment, become, as it were, either paralyzed or convulsed, and unable to act with effect. Hence a rushing sound of the breath escaping, unvocalized, is heard along with the partially vocalized sounds by which such passions are expressed. The half-whispering voice of fear, and the harsh, breathing sound of anger, are examples in point, in the extremes of " expression.”
The agitating character of these and similar emotions, disturbs the play of the organs, and not only prevents, in utterance, the effect of purity of tone, — which is always connected with comparative tranquillity of feeling, but causes, by “ aspirated quality,” or redundant breath superadded to vocal sound, a positive impurity of tone, which has a grating effect on the ear, — somewhat as takes place when we hear a person attempting to play on a wind instrument which has been cracked, and which allows a hissing sound of the breath to escape along with the musical notes.