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CHAPTER III

VOICE CULTURE

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DEFINITIONS. Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of tone I. Pure, and II. Impure.

I. A Pure tone is one that contains only harmonious overtones, and in which all the breath is vocalized.

II. An Impure tone is one that contains discordant seoondary vibrations. These secondary vibrations usually come from meeting obstructions in the resonating cavities in their passage from the vocal cords.

The Pure tone may be said to be Normal, Oral, Falsetto, Orotund, or Pectoral.

1. The Normal tone is one used in ordinary conversation. It has a pure, clear resonance.

2. The Oral is thin, feeble,—with the center of resonance in the forward part of the mouth.

3. The Falsetto is shrill and clear; it is known as "the false voice." It is heard where the voice is said to "break." The vocal cords are tightly pressed together at one end, permitting only part of their length to vibrate. In a cultivated voice there is no break in passing from the lower to the upper register.

4. The Orotund is clear, smooth, and voluminous, with the resonance in the

upper

chest. 5. The Pectoral is a deep, hollow, sepulchral tone, with the resonance in the lower part of the chest.

The Impure tones are: Aspirate, Guttural, and Nasal. 1. The Aspirate is a breathy, hissing, whispered tone.

2. The Guttural is harsh, raspy, grating, and often throaty.

3. The Nasal is a twanging, head tone with the centre of resonance in the nasal cavities.

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CULTIVATION OF THE VOICE. It may be talking is such a common thing that little attention is paid to the control and cultivation of the voice for conversational and public speaking purposes.

There are many beautiful women with dazzling complexions and graceful carriage who when they open their mouths to speak destroy the first flattering impression they have made by a vulgar quality of voice. Again, there are those who, in personal appearance, might be called plain, but who have such pleasant and melodious voices that hosts of admirers are always in waiting to be thrilled to admiration by the sound of their pure, distinct, cultured, and agreeable accents.

As an attraction for charming, a sweet, melodious voice is invaluable and often outweighs many physical shortcomings.

The voice is a wonderful instrument, but it must be properly used to render its greatest service. By nature, nearly all our voices are clear and pure. When we were children we breathed naturally, and barring natural impediments, spoke with clear, pure, pleasing accent. Modern social customs and the stress and strain incident to getting ahead of the other fellow is daily occasioning many defective voices. Back to nature is the cry of the voice specialist as truly as that of the social reformer.

To control the breath properly, and to co-ordinate mental images, breath, and resonance, are the two fundamental principles in vocal culture. The muscles of the vocal cords are so completely involuntary that we never pay any direct attention to them. They will deport properly if we establish the necessary co-ordination. Remember that the active center of breath control is the diaphragm. You should practice the exercises suggested until the mental percepts or emotions co-ordinate and regulate the amount of breath; open

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the jaw and throat, and the proper movements of the tongue, lips, and soft palate are made to express these percepts or emotions; and you should learn to do this unconscious of these vocal adjustments. Correct habits must be formed. The earlier the better. You see some object on the ground in the distance; you think of picking it up. Immediately you take the proper steps, stop when you reach it and stoop to pick it up. You are not conscious of these movements. You have learned to co-ordinate your mental percepts with your muscular organization. In the same way you must unconsciously control your speaking apparatus; so that when you have an idea, the diaphragm, vocal cords, jaw, tongue, etc., will express your idea without thought as to just what part each one performs. The best speaker and reader is he who performs his work properly with the least expenditure of energy.

While performing an exercise to correct any defect, center your mind upon that part. If you do not speak clearly because your teeth are too close together, center your thoughts on this opening. In practicing any exercise, do not be afraid of over-doing it just a little. A tree that has been bent the wrong way for a number of years needs to be bent, not straight, but far over in the opposite direction for a short time, so that if let entirely alone it will assume a natural and erect position.

Think while you perform the exercise. Doing it listlessly and in a half-hearted manner will represent just that much loss of time. Constantly watch your speech whenever and wherever you speak. To repeat these exercises for a few days will not correct a defect that has been growing on you for years; but faithful and

but faithful and patient practice will be rewarded. The conscientious and competent teacher will tell you of your most prominent defect and suggest what exercises should be followed in your particular case. The same remedy cannot be prescribed in each case, for the defects are not all alike. However, proper breath control, the open

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throat, relaxed condition of the muscles of the throat and neck, a loose jaw and a flexible tongue will remedy about all the vocal defects that are not due to actual malformations.

Some of the exercises are mere devices, which, when properly used, will aid; but do not confound them in importance with the fundamental law of co-ordination. Learn to breathe properly and to relax the muscles of the throat as suggested in Chapter II. Unless this is observed, no amount of facial contortions will ever improve your tone. A good singing teacher may be able to aid you greatly in teaching you how to breathe properly.

VOCAL EXERCISES

I. Lips. Some people never use the lips in articulation. Flexibility and control may be cultivated by practicing the following exercises :

1. Open the mouth and bring the lips together quickly and firmly; then compress the breath against lips and cheeks, resisting with these muscles finally forcing the lips open.

2. Pronounce oo with the lips rounded, and projected as far as possible.

3. Pronounce ee, drawing the lips sideways as far as possible.

4. Repeat rapidly: e-ah-o0; 00-ah-e; e-oo-ah. II. Jaw.

Jaw. A most common fault is that of talking, as we say, with the mouth shut. If one does not drop the lower jaw enough to let the tone pass freely, the voice is either muffled or swallowed. Cultivate the mouth-opening habit.

1. Relax the lower jaw. Move from side to side and forward and back. Repeat while singing ah in a single key.

2. Drop the back part of the jaw as far as possible and repeat, very slowly at first, and gradually faster at each repetition, we-wick-wack-walk.

III. Tongue. In cases where one is really “tonguetied,” a surgeon may be needed to clip the small cord at

tached to the lower part of the tongue. But many faults of speech arise from the improper use, or lack of use, of this ! organ. A blurred articulation, for example, may come from using the middle part of the tongue, instead of the very tip; and failure to let the tongue lie low in the mouth makes one “mouth” his words, or obstructs the vocal passage so as to produce a nasal tone.

1. Open the mouth, keeping the tongue flat; then thrusti the tongue out straight and draw it back as far as possible several times.

2. With the very tip of the tongue touch, in turn, the lower teeth, upper teeth, and the roof of the mouth.

3. Pass the tip of the tongue forward between the teeth, and then draw the whole tongue vigorously backward, as if trying to swallow it.

IV. Correcting a Nasal Tone. When the tongue is raised behind and the soft palate lowered so as to nearly or quite meet it, the breath is directed upward and passes chiefly through the nose, producing the nasal tone or twang which is a deplorably common fault in America. To correct this, attention must be given to two things: (1) Lowering the tongue and raising the soft palate, so that there may be a free passageway from the pharynx to the front part of the mouth; and (2) projecting the tone forward in the mouth,-a matter that is referred to under another topic.

1. With the aid of a mirror look at the back part of the mouth. Inhale through the nostrils, with the mouth wide open and the tongue still and flat: this will cause the soft palate to fall. Now exhale through the mouth, and note the rise of the soft palate.

2. Look in a mirror and with the mouth wide open go through the movement of gaping. Practice this until you can raise and lower the soft palate at will.

3. With soft palate raised sing ah and oh in pure, projected tone.

4. With the thumb and fore-finger close the nostrils and

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