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have not the benefit of a master, the true nature of an inflexion, and the difference betwixt an inflexion and a sudden elevation or depression of the voice.
After understanding the nature of the slide, it is useful to con. nect it with the strengthening of the voice. Before inflexion was discovered, elocutionists were aware of the importance of beginners reading very slowly, by producing the vowels not merely on the accented, but partially on the unaccented syllables. Sheridan exercised his pupils in this way, and Mrs Siddons showed the importance of the practice in her first injunction for good reading, "take time." This prolongation of the vowel sounds is most profitably connected with the slide, for thus the voice is strengthened in its whole range. Much of the pupil's success depends on this exercise being well performed. The teacher should insist on the mouth's' being well rounded in certain sounds; and he can easily discern by the distension of the throat whether they are emitted with practicable fulness. In the first exercise on inflexion, the vowels should be inflected according to the foregoing remarks; and as time is of great consequence here, each vowel may occupy in the pronunciation two or three seconds.
The propriety of beginning inflexion on vowels instead of words," is obvious, as in words such as fame, the learner is apt to slip off the vowel sound, and inflect on the semi-vowel m, a practice common with beginners. Besides, when the vowel alone is presented, its pure sound is more likely to be insisted on.
In the inflecting of these vowels, the voice, in order to rise, begins low, and, in order to fall, begins high. In ascending, care must be taken that the voice do not slide into the falsetto tone. It signifies not at first that there is a little roughness in the high note; this will wear off; but if the pupil shows a disposition to a weak piping tone in the high notes-and this is a great fault with tyros in elocution he must be reduced to a lower range. Nothing is more unnatural and unmanly than this high thin voice, and nothing has done more to throw discredit on the system of inflexion. In the course of the following rules, the varieties of inflexion, whether as regards extent, change of key, &c. will be noticed. In the meantime it may be noted, that in the foregoing table of inflected vowels, and the following one of inflected words, the learner may take the intervals of the slides much more leisurely than in the examples which are to follow.
DIRECTION 1. In the rise and fall of this table, the voice returns to the same point whence it rose.
DIRECTION 2. The principal word before the rising slide has a preparatory fall, before the falling slide a preparatory rise.
DIRECTION 3. The slide takes place on the accented syllables. Beginners frequently violate this rule.
TABLE OF INFLEXIONS.
The acute accent (') denotes the rising inflexion, and the grave accent (') the falling inflexion.
Did he say háte, or hate?
He said hate, not háte.
Did he say tréat, or treat?
He said treat, not treat.
Did he say fíne, or fine?
He said fìne, not fíne.
As this table must be frequently pronounced, it is an advantage to have in it all the vowel sounds, and such combinations of letters as tr, dr, flu, which are frequently mispronounced. Students who are late in attending to elocution, and whose ear is not remarkably correct, very often submit to the drudgery of the inflexion table with great impatience. They are anxious to get on to something where there is sentiment and passion: the teacher should resist this, both on the score of inflexion and articulation. Sheridan, even before inflexion was discovered, gave this judicious direction"Let the pupil sound all his syllables full, and have that point only in view, without reference to the sense of the words; for if he is attentive to that, he will invariably fall into his old habit." This direction is, of course, to be understood as referring to the first stages of elocution.
Inflexions terminate on the intervals of seconds, thirds, fifths, and octaves.* In the above table, they may be practised in each of these *This holds as a general rule only, for in passion every interval is taken. Although the intervals of the second, third, fifth, and octave, form in elocution
ways. Swinging the voice to the octave may appear harsh and unnatural, but it is a practice which gives strength to the voice; the the principal and most usual points of repose for the voice in its inflexions and transitions from grave to acute, yet every one who has watched attentively the course which the voice naturally follows in its inflexions and transitions from one tone to another, particularly when giving expression to strong emotion or passion, must be aware, that many more intervals are touched and rested upon than the second, the third, the fifth, and the octave. Indeed, we might almost go so far as to say, that all the kinds of intervals employed in vocal music, whether they be diatonic, chromatic, or enharmonic, may not only be made available, but, under certain circumstances, are actually practised in oratory. Whilst making this assertion, we are quite aware of the difference between singing and speaking even in impassioned declamation. In both cases, however, the sounds are appreciable and modulated, although, perhaps, not in an equal and determinate degree; for the one (singing) is regulated by the established forms and laws of music, whilst the other is not. In singing, the tones are longer dwelt upon, and succeed one another in determinate intervals, according to the fixed laws of musical modulation; this makes them easily traced and recognised. On the other hand, the inflexions of the voice in speaking are often so minute and delicate, and the transitions from high to low, and from low to high, so sudden, that the resting points almost escape perception. But these transitions are ascertainable, and can be expressed by musical characters or notes. It is well known that many of the inferior animals, and even quadrupeds, articulate different sounds, which have a musical ratio to each other. The natural song of many birds has been reduced to musical notation.-See Hawkins' History of Music.
When under the influence of strong emotion, the human voice certainly gives expression to other intervals besides the third, fifth, and octave. In the plaintive accents of subdued grief, how often do we not hear the minor third touched, or something as near it as it is possible to approximate, namely,
As this exclamation would naturally be made upon the lower or grave tones of the voice, we have assumed the bass clef. This kind of exclamation in the female voice would correspond to the following notes in the treble clef,
In exclamations of surprise, the voice often leaps beyond the octave; thus,
Do I indeed?
The waving mark in this figure indicates the obscure and expiring sound of the
teacher always guarding it, however, from ascending into the fal
The following plate may denote the manner of the slide. The interval is a fifth.
A slide takes place when the voice passes from one interval to another, and is expressed thus [~ ~]. The curved line indicates that the voice has not only to intonate the notes C and G, one after the other, but likewise that, after having left the C, it has to slide through, and touch in its passage, so as to make continuous, all the minuter intervals lying between the notes C and G. Now, according to our system of musical temperament, the chromatic intervals, or half tones, are the minutest; but the voice and certain instruments can produce enharmonic intervals, or quarter tones; and in the slide in the above example, the quarter tones are touched. There is no other mark or sign for it in music than the curved line. It must be remarked, that in slides, the voice passes very slightly over the intermediate sounds, and without resting upon any one, so as to sound it separately.
The preparatory slide, Did he say, is here made equal to the rise on hate, as the voice, at the outset, must be kept to easy and regular tones. The or continues in the same key in which hate terminates, and the falling hate is taken from the same height.
After a little practice, the or, instead of being taken from the note on which the inflexion on the first hate terminates, may be taken from that where the inflexion commences: this is necessary to what is called a cadence, as is afterwards noticed.
Besides the rising and falling inflexion, Walker gives the voice
voice as it descends, after arriving at, and striking the extreme point of elevation.
It is remarkable that this reflected action of the voice has not been noticed by elocutionists. After rising to any of the intervals, the voice seems to lose its force, and to break as soon as it touches the extreme point of ascent. After breaking, it becomes relaxed, and, falling irregularly and faintly, vanishes imperceptibly away, not unlike the rocket in effect, although an object of another sense, which, after rising to a certain height, bursts, the disunited particles of fire falling in straggling and irregular lines, until they silently die away. This tendency of the voice was first pointed out to me by Mr Finlay Dun.
two complex sounds, which he terms circumflexes; the first, which he denominates the rising circumflex, begins with the falling, and ends with the rising on the same syllable; the second begins with the rising, and ends with the falling on the same syllable. The rising circumflex is marked thus V, the falling thus A.
The first is used in irony, according to Mr Walker, but the second appears to me to be also used in irony. Take Mr Walker's own example, "But it is foolish in us to compare Drusus Africanus and ourselves with Clodius; all our other calamities were tôlerable, but no one can patiently bear the death of Clodius." In this sentence, every one would give the word tolerable an ironical expression, but it would be with a different circumflex than the one on Clodius. These circumflexes, and their application, are considered under the head of EMPHASIS.
The monotone and no change of key."
denotes that there is no inflexion,
RULE. When the sense is finished, the falling inflexion takes place.
1st. The voice falls at the period.
This rule comes naturally first in the system of inflexion. Although first, however, in point of theory, it should not be exemplified first; for the student, just arrived from the inflexion table, will be apt, from the nature of that table, which is antithetic, to give the closing word an emphatic force. It may be said that, before coming to these exercises, the student should have the power of modulating the inflexions; but it is reckoned more encouraging to allow him to pass quickly to those exercises where the ap plication of the strong and emphatic slides of the table can be exemplified. The examples on emphasis, then, should form the first lessons; and this is expedient also on another account. In many loose and compact sentences, as well as in interrogative sentences, the slide of the voice does not always take place on the last word of the clause or sentence, but on the word which is emphatic.
Example. Nothing valuable can be gained without labòur. Every one would of course give the falling inflexion at the termination of this sentence; but to give it with that degree of force which would accompany an emphatic word, would be harsh and unnatural. Yet many are taught to do so, by bringing them to such a sentence without giving them a notion of the modulation necessary to the proper and natural expression of the sentence. It will be seen, in the compact sentence, that the rising slide takes place at valuable, as the meaning here begins to be formed; but, to run on in the same key to the end of the sentence, and then slide the voice down with strength (a practice common with beginners), would render the pronunciation ridiculous. To produce what is termed a pleasing cadence, the voice should begin on a lower key
Mr Chapman, in his ingenious work, the Rhythmical Grammar, contends that a perfect monotone is never employed in speaking.