« PředchozíPokračovat »
longed inflection extending over a number of words. Cadence is a term usually applied to the inflection at the close of a sentence.
A reader, then, must ask himself, “Do I speak in a key that is most conducive to ease and effectiveness? Can. I readily go above or below my normal key?" An habitual key, it should be remembered, is not necessarily a natural one. Many people habitually speak in either a high or a low key, rather than in the middle range. One who speaks in a high, thin, squeaky tone, represents the one extreme, while one who speaks as from the bottom of a well, represents the other extreme. Either extreme is a fault. The
most pleasing voices use neither the upper register—the "head tone”—nor the lower register--the “chest tone”—to the exclusion of the other, but readily pass from one to the other, as the thought and emotion may require.
Ease, variety, and strength depend on using the middle or average key; we then have a common point above and below which the voice is allowed to play. The importance of this free and easy play of the voice in reading and speaking cannot be overestimated. Inflection, emphasis, climax, and modulation generally depend upon it.
The normal key will vary with the individual. Physiological conditions will determine what the key of one's voice shall be. The point is, are you using to the best advantage the key-range that nature has given you? Probably the more common fault is exhibited by those who habitually use about the highest pitch of their key-range. The high, shrill tone of the average American girl is frequently remarked upon by foreigners. Such voices are not only unpleasant to hear, but they lack strength, “body," and the power of sustained force. If your voice is too high-pitched, you must acquire an habitually lower key. The only way to do this is—to lower it. Find the desired note on a musical instrument and speak to it. Relax the throat muscles and roll the voice out from the chest. Think of its coming, if you please, from the diaphragm. Watch yourself in conversation and do not allow the voice to rise into a high, compressed pitch. On the other hand, if you speak down “in the shoes” so that the tone is habitually swallowed, learn to raise the key, project the tone, and get it out.
Again, key should vary with the matter. The manuals of elocution give an elaborate classification of degrees in pitch, with rules as to how matter, expressive of a given function, fits into a certain “degree,” but all this is largely dogmatic and artificial. The main object should be to conceive and feel the thought, and then to use the key best adapted for its expression. We know, for example, that in
explanatory or narrative matter the key is higher than in the expression of deep feeling. In the one case, the sole object is to get something lying easily in the speaker's mind into the mind of a hearer; in the other case the impression lies deeper, and for its adequate expression a deeper note must perforce be struck. This is a single phase of the matter. On the other hand, uncontrolled mental states—as an outburst of indignation-produce a nervous and muscular tension which naturally results in a high key. Note the difference in the pitch of the tone of a pig that gets his leg caught in a fence, and the pitch of his voice when grunting contentedly in his pen. When you are excited your muscles become contracted, including your throat muscles, your pitch will be high, whether it be grief, joy, or pain. On the other hand, when the muscles of your body are relaxed, the throat muscles will be relaxed, and your pitch will naturally be low. The point is to get control and variety of pitch; the rest can best be left to the requirements of the varied and changing emotions of a given selection.
Old age is frequently characterized by a high, or even falsetto tone. As Shakespeare says,
His big, manly voice,
And whistles in his sound.
a time, now happily passed, when it was thought that when a man read the lines spoken by a lady that he must imitate her voice and consequently used the falsetto tone. Sometimes for the sake of ridicule and fun this is still heard in vaudeville acts, but never by those who wish to interpret properly a selection of literature. Neither should one use the high pitched voice of the child in reading what Little Boy Blue said in the following stanza:
“Now don't you go till I come,” he said;
For convenience it is well to speak of degrees of pitch as high, middle, and low. There is no absolute standard, for voices vary with different individuals. What would be a low pitch for some would be high for others.
1. Go to a piano and find your normal key. Run up
and down the scale and register your range. Refer to the table in this chapter and find out what your singing voice is. If you do not know much about music get some one to assist you.
II. Sing the scale up and down: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do.
III. Sing the scale by counting: one, two, etc.
IV. Run the scale by counting. Do not prolong the words as in singing.
etc. VII. Continue with a variety of cadence.
VIII. Read the first line of each of these couplets four notes higher than the second :
I slept and dreamed that life was Beauty;
I woke and found that life was Duty.-HOOPER. "O, father! I see a gleaming light; oh say, what may it be?” But the father answered never a word; a frozen corpse was he.
IX. Read the following selections and make an effort to have a difference of at least four notes between the high key and the middle key, and a difference of at least four notes between the middle key and the low key. The aid of some musical instrument will prove serviceable:
1. Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night.
-TENNYSON. 2. Sing loud, O bird in the tree,
O bird, sing loud in the sky,
-INA COOLBRITH. 3. “Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend !” I shrieked,
upstarting; “Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian
shore ! Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath
loneliness unbroken! quit the bust above my door! Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off
Quoth the raven: “Nevermore !" The Raven.
PoE. . 4. Now glory to the Lord of Hosts, from whom all glories are! And glory to our sovereign liege, King Henry of Navarre! Now let there be the merry sound of music and of dance, Through thy corn-fields green and sunny vines, O pleasant
land of France ! And thou, Rochelle-our own Rochelle-proud city of the
waters, Again let rapture light the eyes of all thy mourning daughters: As thou wert constant in our ills, be joyous in our joy, For cold and stiff and still are they who wrought thy walls