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of phrases" and their relative" pitch," involve topics too numerous and too intricate for discussion in an elementary work. These subjects will be found fully explained in the work of Dr. Rush. We will select a few points of practical application and of primary importance. The " phrases of melody," in a sentence, admit of being arranged in two classes: 1st, those which prevail in the body of a sentence; 2d, that which occupies the last three syllables of a sentence, and forms the cadence. The former is termed the "current melody;" the latter, the "melody of the cadence."
The investigation of melody and pitch, in phrases, requires attention to the important distinction of "discrete" and "concrete " sounds. "Discrete" sounds consist of notes produced at intervals, or in close succession, but in detached and distinct forms, as in running up or down the keys of a piano, or the chords of a harp; or producing similar sounds on a violin, by twitching the strings with the finger, instead of gliding over them with the bow; or in the laughing utterance of delighted surprise, as when we laugh a "fifth or an octave up the scale, on the interrogatory interjection “eh?” or when, in the laughing utterance of derision, we run down the scale, in the same way, in the long-drawn sound of the word 'no!" In these last-mentioned instances, every note is executed by a distinct and separate little jet, or tittle, of voice. such sounds, then, the word "discrete" in its proper etymological sense, may be justly applied, as intimating that they exist apart.
“Concrete" sounds, on the other hand, are produced by a succession of notes gliding into each other so imperceptibly to the ear, that they cannot be detached from each other; as when the violinist, in playful execution, sometimes makes his instrument seem to hold dialogue, in the tones of question and answer, by drawing the bow across the strings, while he slips his left hand, upward and downward, so as to shorten or lengthen the strings, and thus cause the sounds to glide up or down the scale, in one continuous stream of "mewing" sound. A parallel illustration may be drawn from the natural use of the voice, when we pronounce the interrogatory "eh?” of surprise, in a serious mood, but with great earnestness, - merely causing the voice to slide smoothly up the scale, through the interval of a "fifth" or an "octave," or when we utter the word "no!" in the tone of full and bold denial, and make the voice sweep continuously down the scale, through a similar interval.
In the "current melody" of a sentence, every syllable includes a "radical" and a "vanishing movement," united, which, in unimpassioned expression, occupy the space, on the scale, of one tone, or pass from one note to the next above it on the scale. The succession of " concrete tones, is uniformly at the interval of a tone, upward or downward on the scale, as the case may be. The rise of voice within each syllable may therefore be called its " concrete pitch ;" and the place that each syllable takes above or below another, the "radical pitch."
The "melody of phrases," prescribes no fixed succession of radical pitch, although it usually avoids a repetition of the same "radical pitch," unless for special effect, in extreme cases; and it forbids
the see-saw tone of exact alternation, or measured recurrence, "radical pitch."
The convenience of using specific and exact terms, in relation to "melody" and "pitch," as they exist in speech, renders the following distinctions important to the student of elocution.
When two or more "concretes" occur in succession, on the same "radical pitch," they form a “monotone,' or produce upon the ear the effect of unity or sameness of sound or tone. This concrete pitch is often used in conjunction with the low notes of awe, sublimity, and solemnity, for impressive effect, resembling that of the deep tolling of a large bell. "Monotone," however, is not to be confounded with monotony, the besetting fault of school reading, and which consists chiefly in omitting or slighting the "radical stress,' and sometimes abolishing even the “radical movement" of elements. "Monotone" is the sublimest poetic effect of elocution: monotony, one of the worst defects.
When the "radical pitch" is one note above or below that of the preceding tone, it is termed a "Rising or a "Falling Ditone.” - When the radicals of three successive "concretes," rise or fall, they become a Rising or a "Falling Tritone.". - When there is a series of three or more, alternately a tone above and below each other, they form an "Alternate Phrase."
When three "concretes 99 gradually descend in their "radical pitch" at the close of a sentence, the "vanish" of the last, instead of ascending, descends; so as to give the peculiar closing effect to the cadence. This descent is, accordingly, for distinction's sake, termed the "Triad of the Cadence."
It is in this peculiar "phrase" of "sentential melody," that the very general fault, popularly called "a tone," exists. The common style of cadence, instead of being spoken, is usually such as causes it to be sung, more or less, by deviating from the melody of the "triad," and, at the same time, losing "radical," and assuming "median stress," accompanied by a half-musical wave or undulation of voice. A clear, distinct, and exact succession of "radical pitch,' in the form of the "triad," would, in most cases, destroy the false tone, and impart to reading more resemblance than it often possesses to speech or to conversation.
The student will derive much assistance, in this branch of elocution, from repeating the "tonic elements," and appropriate words selected from the exercises in the chapter on enunciation, with a view, first, to observe the "concrete" character of the elementary sounds of speech in their initial "radical" and rising "vanish." Let letters, syllables, and words, then be practised, successively, in the forms of the phrases of the " monotone, falling" and rising ""ditone," and "tritone," and the "triad of the cadence." The following illustration, selected from the work of Dr. Rush, will suggest the idea how the exercises in this department may be practised in classes, by the use of the chart of exercises, or of the black-board.
The object in view, in the use of such diagrams as the following, is not to exhibit the strict application of any rule or principle of elo
cution, but merely to aid the mind in attaining an exact apprehension of the nature and character of the elements of vocal sound, in certain relations. It is not meant that either the couplet from Pope's Homer, which is introduced in the following illustration, or the lines which follow it, must be read with the precise melody exhibited in the diagram, or that they cannot be appropriately read with any other. The design of this exemplification, is merely to show the different forms of radical pitch," as they occur in the actual use of the voice, and to render the practice of them definite and exact. The repetition of the exercise will render the ear accurate and discriminating, and will preserve the student from inadvertently contracting the false intonation arising from the general neglect of this part of elocution, and from the impossibility of discussing or explaining its peculiarities, till the means of instruction were furnished by exact analysis and precise nomenclature, benefits for which science and education stand equally indebted to the discriminating genius and philosophic investigation of Dr. Rush.
"That quarter most the
Monotone. Falling Ditone.
Rising Tritone. Rising Ditone.
Where yon wild fig trees join the walls of Troy."
skilful Greeks annoy,
Triad of the Cadence.
To secure the full benefit of discrimination and of exact practice, it will be a useful exercise to repeat the phrases of melody in the diagram, on the "tonic" and other elements, on syllables, and on the following couplets.
1.-"Lo! the poor Indian, whose untutored mind Sees God in tempests, hears him in the wind."1
“There, where a few torn shrubs the place disclose, The village preacher's modest mansion rose."
"Thus every good his native wilds impart,
1 The above example is intentionally introduced as one of cadence, for the sake of contrast with the tone of continuance, which belongs to it in the original text.
4. "The conscious swains, rejoicing in the sight, Eye the blue vault, and bless the useful light.”
We proceed to the examination of another function of the voice, connected with "melody," or the transition of vocal sound from one note to another of the musical scale. - The transit from the "radical" to the "vanish" of a sound, is, it will be recollected, limited, in "concrete pitch," to a single tone, or the distance measured to the ear, in passing from one note to the next above, on the scale. We should hear this transition exemplified in the sound of a in the word arm, in the following unimpassioned and incomplete phrase, if read as it would be in the case of a person suddenly interrupted, at the moment of uttering that word, in the act of reading a sentence; thus, "He raised his arm"-The broken or interrupted, progress of the voice, is here indicated by the fact that the sound of a in the word arm does not descend, but remains suspended by the effect of "concrete pitch," or the common difference between the "radical" and the vanishing movement," in an unimpassioned or inexpressive sound.
But let us suppose the case of a person uttering the same element, in the vivid language of real or affected surprise, in the interjection "ah!" We shall now perceive, that the interval between the "radical" and the "vanish," is greatly enlarged, and that the voice has run up three, five, or perhaps, eight notes, according to the depth and earnestness of the feeling expressed in the utterance of the sound. The more slow and drawling the style of voice is made, in the repetition of the supposed example, the more distinct will be our perception of the transition of sound from note to note, as it glides up the scale. This vocal function is what, in elocution, is termed an "upward slide," or in the language of some elocutionists, a "rising inflection."
Let us suppose, once more, the sound of the same element falling on the ear, in the tone of the bold military command,
“Arm!" We shall now perceive that, in the time which transpires from the first to the last moment of the sound, the voice glides down the scale, through an interval, greater or less, according to the boldness and fulness of the utterance. We have here an example of the "downward slide," or "falling inflection."
The extent of the "slide" depends, usually, on the intensity of a prompting emotion, as in the case of surprise, mentioned before. Let the student who has not yet trained his ear to discriminate the de grees of the "slide," and who wishes to attain a clear perception of its different forms, imagine a conversation going on between two persons, one of whom is relating to the other a series of events, each one successively more striking and more surprising than the preceding. Let the hearer be supposed to utter, at each stage in the narrative, the expressive interrogatory interjection of surprise, "indeed!" and with that marked increase of effect, which arises not only from the augmented intensity of force, but also from the wider interval of the scale, or the larger number of notes, which the voice traverses, in the "expressive melody" of speech.
The progressive change of feeling, which causes the progressive change of expression in the voice, may, for the sake of illustration, be supposed to rise from surprise to wonder, and from wonder to astonishment. In such circumstances, may be heard, 1st, the ordinary "slide" of surprise, - the interval occupied by the voice, from the moment of uttering the "radical" of the expressive sound, to that of uttering its "vanish," being a rising "third;" the voice gliding upward, with a continuous sound, terminating in the note which lies on the third degree of the scale above the "radical :”— 2d, the more expressive "slide" of greater surprise, or of wonder, -occupying the interval of an upward "fifth ;" the gliding sound terminating on the note which is on the fifth degree of the scale above the “ radical :” — 3d, extreme surprise, excessive wonder, or astonishment, whether real or affected, (and, particularly, if the latter,) will impel the voice with a slide which glides through a whole " octave," or interval of eight notes, from the "radical" to the "vanish."
Again, let it be supposed that the person who is listening to the narrator, is answering in the derisive tone of mockery. The voice, in this case, will utter the word "indeed!" in the downward "slide;" and if we suppose, farther, the tone of emotion increased in intensity of expression, at each stage, the effect may be to produce the same three intervals of the scale as before, but in the opposite direction:
1st, the downward "third," — 2d, the downward "fifth,”—3d, the downward" octave ;" the voice gliding down with a continuous sound, through each of these intervals, in succession, while uttering the last syllable of the expressive word "indeed!"
Similar illustrations might be drawn from the natural “ expression" of other strong or distinctly marked emotions. But these will occur in subsequent examples. A clear and broad definition is all that is now requisite.