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ON THE ELEMENTS OF EXPRESSION.
WE Come now to the consideration of the second class of Elements. In order to speak well, something more is wanted, than merely to sound the words distinctly. We must take care to give the meaning of the sentences exactly.
It is possible to give very different meanings to the same words, by saying them in a different manner. Take the sentence, 'Thou art the man.' We may make a plain sentence of these words, without any emphasis, or we may make any one of the words in it emphatic: THOU art the man,' Thou ART the man,' &c. Again, we may make the sentence a question, Thou art the man?' and, as before, we may either make the whole question emphatic, or we may throw the emphasis on any of the words.
Still further we may utter the sentence in a hurried and angry, or in a slow and solemn manner; with great force and violence, or in a sorrowful tone. We may give it in a loud voice, as though it were intended for every body to hear it, or in a low tone, as if it were a secret. These are a few only of the many meanings, which may be given to these four simple words, by the voice. A good reader, then, ought not only to be able to sound every word correctly; he ought to know always the exact meaning of what he reads, and also how to give that meaning, when he knows it.
It is the business of most of the following chap
ters, to show how the different ways of using the voice give different meanings to our words. Το do this, we must explain the second kind of Elements employed in Elocution, the Elements of Expression,' as they are called.
These Elements of Expression are four in number:
I. PITCH, or the place in the musical scale, on which a syllable is sounded. Every sound has some place in the musical scale, either high or low. We all know of what consequence it is, to sound each syllable on the right note, in singing. It will be seen how important the right use of this element is in speaking also.
II. FORCE, or the degree of loudness, with which we speak. We use, in speaking, very different degrees of loudness, according to the expression we desire to give. For instance, in the sentence' OUT with you,' (said as one would say it to a dog), the word 'out' has much more force given to it, than in the simple sentence, 'He went out.' We shall see
also that there are several different KINDS of force required for particular purposes.
III. QUANTITY, or the degree of time taken up in uttering a syllable. How very different the words Our Father, who art in heaven, sound when uttered slowly, as they ought to be, from what they would if sounded lightly and quickly, Oŭr Făther, &c.' This difference is made by the use of Quantity.
IV. QUALITY, or the kind of voice we use in speaking. We may speak, for instance, in a hoarse,
gruff tone, or in a mild voice, in a whisper, or in the common tone of conversation.
On every syllable we utter, we give more or less of each one of these four elements of expression. Every syllable must have some place, higher or lower, in the musical scale, must be sounded with more or less force, must take up more or less time in its utterance, and must be sounded with some one quality of voice. We shall now proceed to show, that all the varieties of expression, which can be given by the voice, are produced by the different combinations of these Elements.
ON PITCH-CONCRETE AND RADICAL.
THE first of the Elements of Expression, then, is PITCH, or the place in the musical scale, which each sound made in speaking occupies. It is easier to understand what is meant by pitch, in singing, than it is in speaking. The distinction between the two has to be first explained.
If you should strike several of the keys of an organ, in succession, your ear would directly tell you that one was higher than another; and, also, that each key continued to give the same musical sound, all the while it was held down.
If, on the other hand, you should take up a violin, and draw your finger along, up any one of the strings,
at the same time that you were drawing the bow across it, you would find that the sound given does not continue the same from beginning to end, but keeps gradually rising higher and higher. In the same way, by moving your finger down the string, while the bow is passing over it, you make a similar mewing sound, beginning high, and becoming gradually lower. The difference between the notes of the organ, is said to be a difference in discrete, or radical pitch: that between the beginning and end of the inewing sound on the violin, is called a difference in 'concrete pitch,' or 'slide.'
When we want to sing, we need only attend to differences in discrete or radical pitch; for, however long we sound a note in singing, it always remains the same in its musical sound,* like the note of the organ. When we speak, however, this is not the
Take the two words 'I wo'n't,' and say them with the passionate intonation of an angry child, 'I WO'N'T.' Any person who has a good ear for music, will perceive two things in regard to the pitch of these words. First, the word 'wo'n't' begins at a higher place in the scale, than the word ' I;' or, in other language, there is a difference in radical pitch' between them, just as there is a difference be
*This explanation, though not in perfect accordance with Dr. Rush's beautiful and correct analysis of the singing voice, comes near enough for the purpose of elementary instruction. A more precise account of the nature of song, would probably be altogether unintelligible to children.
tween two keys of a piano. Secondly, the word 'wo'n't,' instead of running on, all the while it is sounded, on the same note, like the organ, runs down a good way in the musical scale, between the beginning and the end, with a sound like that made, as we have said, on the violin. In other words, between the beginning and the end of the word, there is a manifest difference in concrete pitch,' or 'slide.' The same thing may be seen by sounding, with the same expression, the words 'you CAN'T,' 'he OUGHT,' I MAY,' &c.
We have then to attend to both these kinds of pitch, as elements of expression. In the first place, we must show what differences in concrete pitch are made in speech, and what differences of meaning they give to the words; and, in the second place, we must show the same things in regard to discrete pitch.
Great care must be taken, however, before proceeding further, that every pupil clearly understands the distinction between the two kinds of pitch. Unless he perfectly understands this, at the outset, the succeeding explanations will be wholly useless. Concrete pitch, or slide, refers to the difference of pitch between the beginning and end of the same sound or syllable, as in the words 'wo'n't,' can't, ought,'' may,' in the examples given. Discrete, or radical, pitch refers to the difference of pitch, between the beginning of one sound or syllable and that of another, as between the words 'I' and won't,' &c. in the examples.