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PITCH OF VOICE.
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*I. INTRODUCTORY. 1. Pitch, or key, denotes the highness or lowness of the voice in tone. The range of the voice from the lowest to the highest tone is called its compass.
2. The compass of the voice among readers corresponds; in some degree, to the tenor, soprano, contralto, and bass, among singers; but every voice has its own relatively low, middle, and high tones.
3. For every one, the middle pitch is that tone to which the voice inclines in conversation, or in unimpassioned reading.
4. The three main divisions of pitch are the low, the middle, and the high; but these, for convenience, are subdivided into very low, low, middle, high, and very high.
5. The general key in which a selection should be read is determined by the general sentiment or character of the piece.
6. In order to avoid monotony, there should be some slight variation of pitch at the beginning of each successive paragraph that marks a new topic of discourse, or a change of idea.
7. Low pitch is the tone expressive of serious thought, of awe, of reverence, of adoration, of horror, and of despair.
8. Middle pitch is the tone of conversation, and of unimpassioned narrative or descriptive reading.
9. High pitch is the tone of gayety, joy, and gladness; of courage and exultation; and of shouting and calling.
10. Of the importance of drill exercises in pitch, Prof. Monroe says: “One of the commonest faults in school reading, and in the delivery of many public speakers, is a dull monotony of tone. This sameness is still more disagreeable to the ear when the voice is kept strained upon a high key. Not less unpleasant is an incessant repetition of the same cant or sing-song. Elocutionary rules will do little or nothing toward removing these faults. Faithfựl drill is needed, under the guidance of good taste and a correct musical ear. To this must be added an appreciation of the sentiment of the piece at the moment of utterance.
11. “When the organs have been trained to freedom and facility in all degrees of the musical scale, the pupil will find it easy to modulate his voice in reading. Vowels, words, and sentences should be practiced with high, middle, and low pitch. Having these tones at his command, the expressive reader will vary the pitch with every shade of thought or emotion, so that a foreigner who did not understand a word might listen with pleasure to the play of intonation. Next to sweetness of voice, a proper melody of delivery has the greatest charm to the hearer.”
II. CONCERT DRILL ON PITCH. 1. Sing the scale, up and down: do, re, mï, fä, sõl, lã, si, dõ.
2. Sing the scale with the long vowel sounds, instead of note names : ā, ē, ī, ō, ū, ā, ē, 1.
3. Sound, not sing, the long vowels, ā, ē, ī, ā, ū, on the key of dõ; of mï; of sõl; of do.
4. Sound the long vowels, ā, ē, ī, ā, ū: (1) With low
pitch. (2) With middle pitch. (3) With high pitch. (4) With very high pitch.
5. Count from one to twenty: (1) In middle pitch. (2) With low pitch. (3) With high pitch.
6. Repeat, five times, the word “all,” beginning with very low pitch, and rising higher with each successive repetition.
III. FAULTS IN PITCH.
1. The most common fault in school reading is the high pitch known as the conventional “school tone,” which grates on the ear like the filing of a saw. It arises from an effort to read in a loud tone, and from a habit of reading without any regard to thought or feeling. This fault must be corrected by vocal drill on a low key.
2. A common fault, particularly of girls, is that of reading with feeble force and low pitch.
3. The failure to adapt the pitch to the sentiment or emotion of what is read.
IV. EXAMPLES OF THE MIDDLE PITCH. The middle pitch is the natural tone of ordinary conversation. It is the appropriate key for the reading of unimpassioned narrative, descriptive, and didactic composition.
1. Give a boy address and accomplishments, and you give him the mastery of palaces and fortunes where he goes.
2. Wisdom is better than riches.
3. Good morning, Mr. Brown. How do you do this morning ?
4. For all a rhetorician's rules
Teach nothing but to name his tools.
5. Marley was dead, to begin with ; there is no doubt whatever about that. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.
6. CONCORD RIVER. We stand now on the river's brink. It may well be called the Concord—the river of peace and quietness for it is certainly the most unexcitable and sluggish stream that ever loitered imperceptibly towards its eternity, the sea. Positively, I had lived three weeks beside it, before it grew quite clear to my perception which way the current flowed. It never has a vivacious aspect, except when a north-western breeze is vexing its surface, on a sunshiny day.
From the incurable indolence of its nature, the stream is happily incapable of becoming the slave of human ingenuity, as is the fate of so many a wild, free, mountain torrent. While all things else are compelled to subserve some useful purpose, it idles its sluggish life away in lazy liberty, without turning a solitary spindle, or affording even water-power enough to grind the corn that grows upon its banks.
7. WOUTER VAN TWILLER. This, by the way, is a casual remark, which I would not, for the universe, have it thought I apply to Governor Van Twiller. It is true he was a man shut up within himself, like an oyster, and rarely spoke except in monosyllables; but then it was allowed he seldom said a foolish thing. So invincible was his gravity that he was never known to laugh, or even to smile, through the whole course of a long and prosperous life. Nay, if a joke were uttered in his presence, that set lightminded hearers in a roar, it was observed to throw him into a state of perplexity. Sometimes he would deign to inquire into the matter, and when, after much explanation, the joke was made as plain as a pike-staff,
he would continue to smoke his pipe in silence, and at length, knocking out the ashes, would exclaim, “Well, I see nothing in all that to laugh about.”
V. EXAMPLES OF High PITCH. Joy, mirth, and gayety incline the voice to pure tone and high pitch. Calling to persons at a distance inclines the voice to high pitch and pure tone. Anger, courage, boldness, and exultation incline the voice to high pitch and loud force. 1. Sound drums and trumpets, boldly and cheerfully. 2. Ring joyous chords! ring out again
A swifter still and a wilder strain.
The Douglas in his hall ?
What was thy delighted measure ?
Victory! victory! victory !