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Insert the sealed end, the whole vibrating length of the tongue, within the mouth. With this instrument, the following principles may now be exemplified.
If the slit, and consequently the tongue, be short, the sound will be shrill and strained ; and, if the tongue be gradually lengthened, the pitch of its note will become deeper and more mellow with every increase.* So, the glottis, in producing high tones, is contracted ; and in producing grave sounds, is elongated. This may be sufficiently made matter of sensation, by gradually running up the voice from its deepest to its highest notes; and, more especially, by running down its compass, from the shrill falsetto to the lowest possible tones. There will be, in these experiments, a distinct consciousness of the gradual contraction and gradual enlargement of the glottal aperture.
If the tongue of the reed or quill project too much, so as to create too open an aperture, the air will pass below the tongue without setting it in vibration; and, consequently, no sound will be heard except that of the rushing of the air, more or less audible, according to the degree of openness of the aperture, and the force of the breath. This state of the reed is analogous to that of the glottis, in whispering. Every gradation of sound, from the softest breathing to the strongest sonorousness, may be produced either with the reed or by the glottis.
If the tongue of the reed lie quite close to the sides of the aperture, so as completely to cover it, no sound or breath will issue ; and if, while the effort of breath is continued, the tongue should suddenly take the vibrating position, the sound will burst out with abrupt energy, proportioned to the force of the silent effort preceding it. This condition and action of the reed, are analogous to those of the glottis in many cases of stammering.
To keep the reed in a position for vibrating, an aperture must be maintained ; and, to produce voice, the lips of the glottis must be in close approximation, without being absolutely in contact. Too much openness of the glottis, renders the tone breathy, husky, impurely vocal ; and too little openness, gives a strained, shrill, and inflexible character to the voice. It is important to
* The vibrating length of the tongue may be altered by means of a piece of thread,
-as shown in the cut.
all persons who labour under difficulties in speech, or in the management of their voices, to be perfectly familiar with the nature of the process by which voice is formed ; to make themselves so by experiment; to test the mechanism of analogous sounds; and aim at the improvement of their own vocal powers, by applying the principles which they find to govern the analogous processes they examine.
It will be observed, on experimenting with the reed or quill, that the sound does not begin by a gradual process from the rustling effect of breath to pure sonorousness, but with a quick explosiveness ; as if the tongue, on first feeling the pressure of the stream of air, did, for a moment, shut up the aperture, before its vibrations commenced ; or, rather, we should say, as if its first vibration occluded the aperture for an instant. So, in the production of glottal sound, there must be an energetic, explosive opening of the voice, by a momentary holding in of the breath before the vocal emission. This is a great beauty in vocalizing ; and a source of as much ease and power, grace.
However soft and feeble the tone of voice, it should exhibit the same principle of opening fulness. Even in whispering, the action of the glottis must be the same. When the voice is otherwise commenced, so much breath is wasted before vocality is obtained, that a good clear voice can hardly be produced by the powerless expiration.
This principle of vocalizing is prescribed by scientific singingmasters, as an exercise to purify and strengthen the vocal tones. Mons. Garcia, of Paris, in his lesson-books, dwells on the importance of this “coup de la glotte.” But, to speakers, it is far more important than to singers. Yet, to what lesson-book in speech can the student turn to be directed in this matter?
The following modes of practice will soon enable any person to master this principle in speech.
Inhale a full breath, and retain it for some seconds; then, with all possible force and abruptness, eject the vowel sounds, with open mouth, from the throat; avoiding, however, in the most forcible effort, any bending, or other action of the head or body. The following mark may be used to denote this explosion of the voice (>). E. A, B, 1 .
Ah, I, Ow, Aw, Oi, O, When this has been sufficiently practised, let the student enounce, in the same way, but with abated force, as many repetitions of each vowel as he can effect with one expiration ; taking care, that after each sound, the chest is held up, or the next vowel will probably lose the explosive quality, The same mark, reduced, will represent this vocal action (>>>).
>>> E, Ah, I, Aw, 0, &c. After a little practice, facility and neatness in this formation of voice will be obtained; and the principle may be applied to all INITIAL VOWELS.
Imperfectly formed voice requires a much greater expenditure of breath than pure clear tone. If the preceding theory have not made the reason of this obvious, the prolongation of vowels will prove the truth of the observation. The less clear the sound, the greater is the waste of breath ; the more sonorous the voice, the more easy is its production, and the less exhausting its continuous exercise. This principle is of sufficient importance to demand at least a testing practice from the student.
Expand the chest, so as fully to charge the lungs with air, and, after for a moment holding in the breath, sound the monophthong vowels,
Ah, Aw, Oo, prolonging each, while the sound can be steadily maintained. We have marked this process by a straight line, thus (4) When the voice wavers, becomes feeble, and requires an effort of expiration to produce vibration, stop, and begin again. After practice, and the acquirement of art in managing the chest, &c. so as to maintain a steady, equable pressure on the lungs, the vowels should be continued purely for the space of from twentyfive to thirty seconds.
Another very useful exercise, and one by which the action of the glottis will be distinctly felt, consists in again and again shutting off and recommencing the sound. We may be understood, when we say, that this is merely the preceding exercise, with the vowels clipped up in little pieces, instead of running out in one unbroken length. It may be thus represented (---). The voice must be perfectly stopped at every break, and each breath should last, at least, as long in this as in the preceding exercise.
When it can be done with neatness, this principle of finishing sound should be applied to all FINAL VOWELS.
When the voice is feeble, or the lungs apparently weak, the above four modes of practice will be of much benefit. To assist in the development of the chest and voice in children, the delighted urchins might be safely encouraged to such noisy bawling, at convenient time and place. A strong middle tone is the best for ordinary practice, but, to strengthen particular tones, the voice should range from low to high, and high to low,—-running over its compass on one inflexion. When the ordinary pitch of the voice is too high, the vowels may be practised from high to low, beginning softly, and increasing in strength of sound as the voice descends. To strengthen the higher tones, which is seldom an object of necessity or study among speakers, the voice may increase in energy as it ascends. In this
of the voice may be much extended, and a degree of mellowness and flexibility, seldom acquired without art, will be attained.
Specific exercises on inflexions of the voice will be found in subsequent chapters.
We have hitherto considered only the formation of voice. There are peculiarities of tone, arising from the way in which the voice is directed,—from the position of the soft palate, teeth, lips, &c. The soft palate, (velum pendulum palati) is a curtain depending from the back of the mouth, with a small tongue-like prolongation, called the uvula. It performs many important functions in vocal modulation and articulation. It acts as a valve to cover the nasal apertures, and prevent the issue of breath or voice by them ; or, to open them for the free or partial passage of the vocal current. The contact of this organ with the back of the tongue is the formation of the English element NG, in which the voice passes freely and entirely through the nostrils ; its approximation to the tongue divides the vocal current into an oral and a nasal stream, and thus gives the peculiar character to the French elements en, in, on, un, and causes the
G6 nasal twang;
The soft palate is in the same way approximated to the tongue
for the English articulations M and N; in forming which, the voice escapes by the nose only, but reverberates in the mouth ; where it is shut in, by the lips for the former, and by the tongue and palate for the latter element. The action of the soft palate demands the attention of all who would speak with purity of voice, and propriety of articulation.
Let the student place himself before a glass,-his back to the light,--and, opening his mouth, inhale breath strongly, but noiselessly. If he do not, in this process, elevate the soft palate, and depress the tongue, so as to form a visible arch of nearly an inch in height and breadth, he will be the better of practice for that purpose. A little patient exercise will give him the requisite power. He must strive to retain the velum at the elevation he obtains, as long as possible, dwelling on the open vowels ah and aw, without allowing it to fall. He will distinctly see the position of this organ in sounding these vowels, and he may be able, by sensation and partial observation, to maintain it in the same position in sounding the closer vowels, e, eh, oh, oo, &c. By this sort of exercise, a NASAL TONE OF VOICE will be purified, and that most disagreeable blemish of speech removed.
A GUTTURAL tone of voice arises, in a great measure, from the too close approximation of the tongue and velum, by which the uvula is laid in the way of the vocal current; frequently from enlarged glands, (tonsils ;) and from contraction of the arch of the fauces, from whatever cause arising. The nature of the peculiarity indicates the means of cure. The more the arch can be expanded, the less guttural vibration can there be. So far as faulty habit is the cause of the guttural tone, it will be susceptible of easy correction, by observation of the formation of the open vowels, and the practice of similar means to those recommended for the nasal tone.
The quality of the voice is affected by the position of THE TEETH. All the vowels may be sounded with the teeth closed, and they may all be sounded with the teeth considerably separated; but the tone of voice is very different in these cases. When the teeth are close, the vocal current strikes against them, and becomes deadened, muffled, and deprived of both purity and power. In the close vowels, e and oo especially, it is frequently still farther deteriorated in quality by a degree of vibration in the teeth.
The teeth should never be closed in speech, but, on the con