« AnteriorContinuar »
There have been explained five different ways in which force may be applied to a syllable; the first being the natural radical and vanish, which adds no emphasis to it, and the other four being the different modifications of emphatic force, or stress. It has been also shown, that of these four kinds of stress, the first, which has been called radical stress, can never be applied to a syllable without making us sound it short: the other three require the syllable to be naturally long.
Now, in each of these five ways of applying force, the loudness of the voice is continually changing, throughout the word. Whenever we suffer it to remain through any considerable part of the sound, for two or three words together, we shall find that we have got into a drawl. If any one will listen to the way in which a young child reads his alphabet, or spells short words, they will find, in the sounds he makes, a good example of both these faults which we have been explaining. a-b-c.-A long sound is given to the name of each letter: but the voice runs along through each on a level pitch, and with very nearly the same. degree of force.
In order, then, to correct this second fault, it will be only necessary to practise sounding syllables with long quantity, taking care to give them always either the natural radical and vanish, or else either vanishing, compound, or median stress.
It should be stated, however, that in almost every case where very long quantity is required, it will be best given by the combination of the equal waves with median stress. This therefore should be first practised. After we have mastered this point, it may be well to
proceed to practise quantity on the simple slides, with the natural radical and vanish of the voice. If the pupil have followed the directions given for practice on vanishing and compound stress, it will be hardly requisite for him to repeat that exercise. For the two exercises we have here prescribed, the tables giver under the head of median stress will be found sufficient. On them, however, he must practise till he can perform the exercise well.
One point alone remains now to be noticed on this bject. In reading a sentence slowly, it will never do to give the same long quantity to every syllable in it. There are a great many syllables on which we cannot possibly increase the length at all. Such words as bit, tap, hate, fop, pettish, can only be made long by altering their sound entirely. We call such syllables immutable.
There is a second class, again, which we can lengthen a little, but not much. These we call mutable. Can, mad, ban, in, are examples.
The third classs only are capable of receiving very long quantity. Hail, wo, throne, high, power, are of this character. They are called indefinite.
In reading solemn passages, then, we must recollect that we are never to attempt to lengthen an immutable syllable at all, nor a merely mutable one much. The use of the waves, and of median or compound stress, is confined to indefinite syllables; radical stress requires us to sound a syllable, to whatever class it may belong, as if it were immutable; vanishing stress may be given to either mutable or indefinite syllables. The natural radical and vanish, and the simple slides, may be given to all.
A remark or two should be made on the way in which we are to lengthen mutable syllables. Most of them have their tonic element naturally short. C-a"-n, i'n, b-a-n, e-nd. In such words no attempt must be made to lengthen out the tonic sound. All the quantity which may be given to the syllable must be given on the subtonic elements. C-a"-N, i'-N, e-ND.
In the same way, in lengthening indefinite syllables, much of the quantity must be given to the subtonic elements in them. Th-r-o-N, (throne), S-OU-N-D, r-o-L (roll), m-A-D, (made). It will not do, however, in either case, to lengthen a subtonic element at all, if if it comes BEFORE the tonic element in the syllable. This would sound very affectedly; indeed it would almost make two syllables of it. P-L-e'-N-D-e'-R (plunder), M-?"-D (mad), k-L-A-M (claim), N-o-N (known).
It will probably be difficult, at first, for the pupil to lengthen his subtonic elements, even where they ought to be lengthened. This difficulty must be removed by practising on the following tables. The first contains a list of the subtonics, which admit of being lengthened. On each of these let the pupils practise, first the slides, and then the equal waves of the tone, third and fifth, endeavoring throughout to make the sound as long as they can. The second table contains some mutable syllables, which will require quantity on the closing subtonic elements. The third consists of a few indefinite syllables, whose quantity is to be shared between the tonics and the subtonics which follow it.
I. b, d, g, 1, m, n, ng, r, V, Z, th.
sob, sad, dog, tell, him, son, song, her, or, live, his.
III. old, aid, all, heal, bound, end, known, aim, fair, our, save, raise, soothe, hol-y.
The bad effect of trying to lengthen any of the subtonic or atonic elements, at the beginning of a word, may be shown on any of the words in these tables which have consonants before the tonic element.
An atonic element must never be lengthened at all, either at the beginning or end of a syllable. F-i'-t (fit), s-a-v (save), sн-a-p (shape), тñ-'-ng-k (tink), a ́-F (off), h-i'-s (hiss), p-u-sн (push).
We have now arrived at the consideration of the last of the elements of expression, viz. quality, or the kind of voice we are to use for different purposes. As might be supposed, the human voice is capable of a great many varieties of quality. The words, harsh, smooth, hoarse, full, musical, aspirated, whispering, and many others, are employed to denote them.
When we are speaking on subjects of no great interest, we use that kind of voice which is most easy and natural to us. This is nearly, though not quite the same, in almost every one. We can always recognise it when we hear it, as the natural tone of common conversation.
There are some persons whose ordinary quality of voice is bad; but it ought to be remembered, in speaking on this subject, that we do not mean by this expression what is commonly meant by it. If a person pronounces indistinctly, or talks monotonously, whines, drawls, or talks either too fast or too slow, it is common to say that he has a bad kind of voice. None of these faults are, however, really faults of quality. Bad pronunciation must be amended by practising on the vocal elements, monotony by attending to the proper modes of using pitch and accent, whining by avoiding the use of the semitone slides and waves, drawling by the proper use of stress, quick and slow utterance by the study of quantity. So, also, if the voice be too full or too loud, the fault is rather in the misemployment of the element of force. None of these belong really to the head of quality.
Real faults of quality are those only which cannot be brought under any of the other elements of expression. Like all other faults, they are to be amended only by careful practice. In almost every case they may be removed by this means. As soon as the nature of the fault, whatever it may be, has been ascertained, let the pupil direct his attention to it for a few weeks in all his reading, and even, if he can, whenever he is talking, and he will soon find that he is overcoming it. For