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Through what new scenes and changes must we pass !
Awe, Dismay, and Despair. (“* Aspirated pectoral Quality :" “ Suppressed” force : “Median
“ At dead of night,
AFFLICTION AND DESOLATION. – Young. (“ Effusive and expulsive orotund :” “Impassioned” and “sub
dued” force : “ Vanishing” and “median stress.”)
IV. "High" Pitch. The analysis of vocal expression, as regards the effect of “ pitch,” leads us now to the study of those modes of utterance which lie above the middle, or ordinary, level of the voice.
The higher portion of the musical scale is associated with
the notes of brisk, gay, and joyous emotions, with the exception of the extremes of pain, grief, and fear, which, from their preternaturally exciting power, compress and render rigid the organic parts that produce vocal sound, and cause the peculiarly shrill, convulsive cries and shrieks which express those passions.
Tracing the voice upward, as it ascends from the usual pitch of 1 serious ? or of “ animated expression,” we observe it obviously rise, when it passes from the “ animated,” or lively, to the “ gay or brisk style, which implies a positive exhilaration, or vivid excitement of the animal spirits. Cheerfulness will suffice to produce "animation ;'' but joy is requisite to cause gaiety. ties of voice, in the utterance of these feelings, are correspondent to their gradations of sensibility.
“ Animation” is expressed by “pure unimpassioned radical stress,” and “middle pitch :” gaiety, by "expulsive orotund,” vivid “ radical and median stress," and “high pitch.”
The command over pitch," in its application to joyous emotions, is not, it is true, of so much importance to the public speaker, as the power of adopting the appropriate tone of serious, grave, and solemn feeling. It is, however, an indispensable accomplishment in elocution, for the purposes of private and social reading; as much of the pleasure, as well as the true effect, of expression, in the reading of pieces adapted to the parlor, and the family or the social circle, depends on the vivid utterance and comparatively high pitch which occasionally prevail in the appropriate style of such reading; since it is not unfrequently marked by gay delineation and high-wrought graphic effect of incident, description, and sentiment.
A “pitch” too low for the natural effect of gay and exhilarated eeling deadens the effect of wit and vivacity, and renders, perhaps, a most expressive strain of composition, tame and dull, when it should abound in the tones of life and brilliancy.
Juvenile readers, from diffidence, often withhold the true effect of the voice in the reading of scenes of gaiety and joyousness, by allowing the pitch to remain too low. The gravity and austerity of the student's life, incline him to the same mode of utterance, as a habit, and hence impair that freshness of effect, even in serious communication, which comes from the frequent practice of utterance in strains of joy and gaiety. The proverbial dulness arising from “all work and no play,” is felt nowhere more deeply than in the habits of the voice. Long-continued, intense mental application, betrays itself, uniformly, in a tendency to hollow, pectoral” tone ; and the uniform“ drowsy bass” of some public speakers, is but the unconscious yielding to this natural effect.
To give the voice suppleness, pliancy, and mobility, much attention must be bestowed on practice for the regulation of pitch. The following examples should be carefully repeated in conjunction with the elements and detached words, till the high pitch ” of joy is perfectly at command.
Gay, or brisk, style.
Joy. FROM THE VOICE OF SPRING. --Mrs. Hemans. (“. Expulsive orotund :" " Impassioned” force : “Median stress.”)
“ I come! I come!-ye have called me long :
e may trace my step o'er the wakening earth,
" From the streams and founts I have loosed the chain :
FRUM THE HYMN OF THE STARS. —Bryant. (“Quality,” force, and “ stress," as before, but more fully given.)
“Away, away! through the wide, wide sky,
“For the source of glory uncovers his face,
“ Away, away!- In our blossoming bowers,
V. “Very High” Pitch. The extreme of the upper part of the musical scale, as far as it is practicable to individuals, in the management of the voice, is the natural range of pitch for the utterance of ecstatic and rapturous or uncontrollable emotion. It belongs, accordingly, to high-wrought lyric and dramatic passages, in strains of joy, grief, astonishment, delight, tenderness, and the hysterical extremes of passionate emotion generally.
As the appropriate utterance of excessive feeling, the “extremely high pitch” is not so important for the general purposes of elocution, as the “ middle" or the “high.' Passages requiring this mode of expression must obviously be of comparatively rare occurrence. It is not less true, however, that the peculiar beauty, or power, or natural effect, of a strain of poetry, may depend, for its true expression, on the command which the reader or reciter possesses over this element of voice. It is equally certain that practice and discipline on the uppermost notes of the scale, give the voice great pliancy, on the range immediately below; and that the frequent repetition of the highest note which the student can command, is one of the most efficacious means of imparting firm, clear, and wellcompacted tone.
The following examples, together with the elements and selected words, should be repeated, as daily exercises, for the purpose of training the organs to easy execution on high notes.
Ecstatic Joy. [SONG OF THE VALKYRIUR, OR FATAL SISTERS, TO THE DOOMED WAR
RIOR.]—Mrs. Hemans. (“ Expulsive Orotund :” “ Sustained” force of calling and shouting:
- Median stress.”)
Lo! the mists of twilight fly-
» force :
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE, [ON AIS BEING MISTAKEN FOR HIS BROTHER.]
Shakspeare. (“ Expulsive Orotund :” “Impassioned
Thorough stress.”) “ This drudge laid claim to me; called me Dromio; swore I was assured to her; told me what private marks I had about me, as the mark of my shoulder, the mole in my neck, the great wart on my
arm, -that I, amazed, ran from her as a witch; and I think, if my breast had not been made of faith, and
my heart of steel, she had transformed me to a curtaildog, and made me turn i' the wheel.”
To attain a perfect command of “ pitch,” as an element of expression, it will be a useful exercise, to review, in close succession, all the examples of "pitch,” and to add, at each stage, a repetition of the elements and of words. The student who can borrow the aid of the musical scale, will derive great benefit from the exactness which it will impart to his practice; as it will enable him to observe and to remember certain notes as the appropriate pitch for natural and impressive reading, in passages characterized by given emotions.
The habit of analyzing passages, so as to recognize readily their predominating feeling, and, consequently, their “ pitch,” is one which every earnest student of elocution will cultivate with persevering diligence, till he finds himself able, from a single glance at the first line of a piece, to determine its gradation of feeling, and its true note in utterance.
Besides practising the examples of “ pitch,” in the order in which they occur in the preceding pages, it will contribute much to facility in changing the “pitch” of the voice, if the student will vary the order of the examples, so as to become accustomed to pass easily from one point of the scale to another, — as from highest to lowest, and the reverse. The practice of the elements and of words, should always be added to the repetition of the examples.