James Rush.

The philosophy of the human voice : embracing its physiological history; together with a system of principles, by which criticism in the art of elocution may be rendered inteligible [i.e. intelligible], and instruction, definite and comprehensive to which is added a brief analysis of song and recita online

. (page 12 of 59)
Online LibraryJames RushThe philosophy of the human voice : embracing its physiological history; together with a system of principles, by which criticism in the art of elocution may be rendered inteligible [i.e. intelligible], and instruction, definite and comprehensive to which is added a brief analysis of song and recita → online text (page 12 of 59)
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a subtonic ; another by the abrupt breaking of the vocule of a sub-
tonic into the radical of a tonic. While a conunon cause of hesi-
tation, is the meeting of the vanish of one tonic with the radical
of another. Other causes of both coalescence and of hesitation,
depending on the character and position of the elements, which by
the light here thrown upon the subject, the Header can easily ob-
serve for himself. The principles of sylabication here founded on
the radical and vanish, and on the abrupt vocule of the subtonics,
embrace the above instance of the indefinite article and the initial
vowel of a following wordj which has long been familiar as a
single, but not as a general fact or law of speeclr. This law, under
its specifications here exemplified, may perhaps be aplied by others,
to the investigation of the causes of stamering, and other defects
in articulation.

From the foregoing view of the essential importance of Abrupt-
ness, in sylabic articulation, the Reader may learn, why I was
necesarily directed to make it an independent Mode of the voice.

Under the sylabic agency of the radical and vanish, the pased
time and perfect participle of some verbs ending in ed, when con-
tracted into one sylable, by rejecting the tonic cj change d into t,
as: snafch-ed, snatch't; passed, passH; stopjp't; checkH. For if the
e be droped, the d having a vocality, and posesing as a subtonic,
the power of a concrete movement, it must, wJicn preceded by an
abrupt or atonic element, as sh, s, p, and k, in the above instances,
have a radical and vanisli, and consequently nuist make another
tho a subtonic sylable in place of cd. But if the abruj)t atonic t is
substituted for d, that element having no concrete may by uniting
with its antecedents, be retiiined without destroying the singlenes
of the sylabic impulse. It is however to be remarked, tliat the
vocule of t lias a 'formative efort' towards a sylable, but not sufi-
cient to produce the cfect of one on the ear.

Those iregular verbs which, by contraction, have their present
and past times and })erfect participle alike, generaly end in /, as:
beat, kept, hurt, let, left. The economy of ntorance, or ocjusions for
poetical measure; prodncing a contraction of the regular analogical
form of beat beated bcatcd, Avhich we may supose to have been the,


original structure of the verb; the influence of the radiciil and
vanisli in sylabication, does not alow the contraction to \ye made by
the elision of e. For upon this elision, heated can be changed to
one sylable, as we have seen above, only by substituting the atonic
t for the subtonic d, as in bead ; and this, not being uterable, the
single word without the last t would be used as the inflection of
the verb, and as the participle.

It is perhaps, owing to the unpleasant efect in subjoining s to ch,
as the sign of the posessive case, that we have no monosylabic
posessive, in the pronoun which ; and without the hiatus, this real
want would probably have been long ago conveniently suplied.
With this dificult}' in articulation, we often use an emphatic cir-
cumlocution, to denote the property of a subject. In the follow-
ing sentence^ Find me a ring, the diameter of which is ten inchesj
the word which having a literal composition that makes it audibly
impresive, and when required, an emphatic relativej has here, along
with the preposition, too much of that audible importance, for its
merely expletive meaning in the sentence ; and in a maner, over-
bears the principal thought of the ring and its diameter. Yet to
make it a posessive by elision, as in which's, would be even more
striking. Nor M'ould it be less so, until authorized by custom, to
employ its suposed original, which its, as with whose (who's) from
who his, or who hers ; according to the old form of the possessive
case of nouns.

It is from the peculiarity of this case, that writers with a deli-
cate perception of phraseology find those proper ocasions, where
the less-accented that, as a relative, may be fluently substituted
for this ear-stamping pronoun. Under the like dificulty the best
Authors, to avoid awkward or afected aliteration, have sometimes
employed whose, in reference to things, as a possessive case of
which. Fortunately however, by a substitutive and variable con-
struction, the copious resources, and available versatility of our
language, are suficient to meet all its incidental wants.*

* The above notice of the improsive efect of the pronoun which, might
be extended to that doubtful part of speech, because, and to the adverb so.
These words are in a degree emphatic by their literal sound alone; and are
to be employed in the first instance, for directing atention to some important
motive or agency; and in the second, for particular stres, when this word
has an inferential importance. Does the influence depend on the full vocality,


The foregoing principles may be hereafter applied to explain
some aparent anomalies in speech, that have hitherto pased with-
out scrutiny, or without satisfactory interpretation. I have gone
beyond my original intention, in planing the subject of this sec-
tion ; and must therefore leave other particulars, to the observation,
reflection, and time of the inquiring and inteligent Reader. Per-
haps I do not excede the bounds of fair anticipation, in foreseing
his rising interest in this history of the voice. But all these things,
and more too that shall be told, may in looking back from future
time, apear, in the distance, to have been the preface only to a full
knowledge of this subjectj if he will adopt the Method of Inquiry
which has thus far asisted me, or which is in truth the more than
co-efficient Author of this Work ; if he will becor^ the spy upon
Nature in his own watchfulnes, and not rely on a careles, and often
itself a borowed authority ; if he will turn from those discouraging
prospects, presented by the result of every metaphysical or transcen-
dental atempt to make knowledge out of notions ; and by entering
into sober comunion with his own senses, lay himself oi)en to the
advising of those five ministers of Observation, apointed by Nature
for his counseling in all inquiry after truth.


Oj the Causative Mechanism of the Voice, in relation to iOi diferent
Vocalities, and to its Pitch.

A DESCRIPTION of the diferent modes and forms of sound in
the human voice, without exemplification by actual uterance, is
always insuficient and often uninteligiblc. With a view to facili-
tate instruction, it is desirable to ascertain the conformation of tlie
vocal organs, together with the action of the air upon them ; that

and extcrulod lime of their rospectivo tonics, a-ll, and o-ld? And do not
other English words, with u liku iniprossivo construction, deserve to be known,
clased, and thoughtfuly used ?


a reference to these forms, and to the impulsas of the air, may
enable an observer to exemplify the description of vcK-al sounds,
by using the known physical means that produce them. The
system of parts which efects this peculiar purpose, is caled the
Mechanism of the voice.

The result of physiological inquiry on this subject is not satis-
factory. Unfortunately, most physiologists have been public
Teachers, apointed to stations of profit and influence, and required
to instruct without having always the time, or ability, or dispo-
sition to investigate. Their condition has obliged them to compile
without choice, to define and arange without reflection, and to
afect an originality perhaps forbiden by the character of their
minds, or the multiplicity of their duties. From these Profesorial
instructors, the covered movements of the organs of speech seem
to cut off" the meaas of observation ; and feigning themselves
under a necessity to teach, what they had never learned, they have
tried to elude the dificulty, by devising some of those works of
fiction long ago designed by the Craft of Mastership, for satisfy-
ing the cravings of undiscerning youth. The thdtles wishes of
the scholar have been raspectfully regarded by the teacher ; and
sketches of knowledge from his acomodating pencil have fre-
quently been rather a worked-out picture of the pupil's vain con-
ceits and authorities, than of the truth, and nothing but the truth
of nature.

The opinions among physiologists, on the mechanism of the
voice, are many and unconformed ; and by the obligations of phi-
losophy we are bound to acknowledge much ignorance and eror
on this subject. We know that the voice is made by the pasage
of air thru the larynx, and cavities of the mouth and nose. From
experiments on the human larynx, or on artificial imitations of its
structure ; and from observations upon the vocal mechanism, by
exposing the organs in living animalsj it is infered with great
probability, that voice procedes immediately from the ligaments
of the glotis. We have no precise knowledge of the causes of
Pitch ; its formation having been by authors diferently atributed
to variations in the aperture of the glotis ; to the diference of
length in its chords ; their varied degrees of tension ; the varying
velocity of the current of air thru the aperture of the glotis ; the


rise and fall of the whole laiynx, and the consequent variation
of length in the vocal avenues, between the glottis and the ex-
ternal limit of the mouth and of the nose; and finaly, to the
influence of a combination of two or more of these causes. Nor
are we acquainted with the mechanisms, respectively producing
those varieties of sound called Vocality, Natural voice, Whisper,
and Falsete. Each of these varieties has receved some theoretic
explanation ; and their locality has, without much precision, been
severaly asigned to the chest, the throat, and the head.

These discordant and fictional acounts have been in some meas-
ure, the consequence of conceiting a resemblance, between the
organs of the voice and comon instruments of music ; and under
fluctuations of opinion which have represented the vocal mechan-
ism to be like that of mouthed, or reeded, or stringed instruments,
the wildnes of these still incomplete analogies has run into out-
rage of all similitude, by comparing the avenue of the fauces,
mouth, and nose, to the body of a flute ; and ascribing false into-
nation, to an inequality of tension between what are called the
' strings of the glotti.' We are too much disposed to measure the
resources of nature, by the limited inventions of art. The forms
and other conditions of mater, which jointly with the motion of
air may produce sound, must be inumerable ; and it certainly is
not an enlarged analogical view of the mechanism of the human
voice, which regards the functions of those few forms only that
have receved the name of ' musical instruments.'

The ilustrations these analogies were suposcd to aford, have
been no more than Theoretic resting places for tlie mind, in the
perplexing pursuit of truth. The physiologists of antiquity ex-
plained the mysteries of the voice, by comparing the trachea to a
musical pipe ; and science reposed from the time of Galen, to that
of Dodart and Ferrein in the eighteenth century, on the satisfac-
tion produced by this suposition. The means of ilustration have
folowed the fashion of instruments, and of late years, the choixls
of the Eolian harp and the reed of the hautboy have furnished
their mechanical pictures of the vocal orgiuis. One cannot say
positivelyj a resembhuuic of the mechanism of the voi(^e, to that
of some known instnimcnt of nuisic, may not be ])rovod hereafter;
but cautious reflection will guard us against surprise on a future


discovery, that in most points, the formative causes in the two
cases are totaly disimilar. Before tlie use of the baloon for the
suport and progres of man upon the air, no one ever conceved the
posibility of his flight, by any other mstrumentality than that of

The history of the voice records its exact anatomy, and some
important physiological experiment, together with inferences from
the mechanism of musi¬Ђil instruments, aplied without much pre-
cision, to the human organs. We seem to have been so entirely
convinced of the analogy between these cases, and have relied so
imjilicitly on systems constructed upon it, that we have forgoten
the importance of unbiased observation. Presumption in suj)-
osing the fulnes of knowledge already acomplished, and despair
in thinking it unatiiinable, are equally adverse to the efforts of
improvement. The panwgic or all-working power of Baconian
Science directs us by its productive rules, to record all the phe-
nomena of the voice; and requires us in our clasifications, to
know resemblances and diferences, not to invent them. There is
no doing wuthout the asistance of Analogies^ as well when look-
ing into the co-relation of the arts, as in observing the proceses
of nature. With peculiar adaptation to a varied ofice, they are
the all-asistant counselors of intelect, in the discoveiy of that
original truth, which they are afterwards to teach and to beautify
by ilustration: they should not however be confounded with the
truth itself, which they serve only to develope and adorn. In the
present inquiry, it might be proper to take into consideration every
analogy, in artificial instruments of sound ; but when a strict use
of tlie senses cannot prove a similarity of mechanism between
them and the vocal organs, it is no benefit to retain as parts of
a science, those unfounded means that cannot ilustrate, after they
have been unsucesfuly used to discover its truth.*

* After the directive principles of the Novutti Organum had acomplished
much of the promised work of scientific precision, and before they have been
duly aplied to rectify the erors of every Theoretic Faithj for which they are
all-suficient, and were prospectively intended;; we are invited to new eforts of
inquiry, by the aditional method of a ' Positive Philosophy,' to assist the pro-
grcsive purpose of its all-suficient prototype. But English and American
philosophy lias too often been deluded into belief of fiction and falsehood,
under the promise of Positive science, for this Word to aford in our coinon


When I speak of our ignorance of the mechanical causes of the
different kinds of voice, and of their pitch, let me be clearly com-
prehended. To hnow a thing, as this phrase is applied in most of
the subjects of human inquiry, is to have that opinion of its char-
acter and caase, which authority, analogical argument, and partial
observation, prompted by various motives of vanity or interest, may

language, a favorable omen of exactnes in observation and thot. Nor has
the flag that bears it as yet waved over any important ' anexation' of truths
beyond the acquisitions of that Comanding Philosophy, which has gone-the-
waj' of victory before it. On the other hand, the Baconian system of obser-
vation has long hung its baner of science, acros the Newtonian Sky ; and is
daily bringing from the depths of the earth, the historic leaves of Creation's
Stone-and- Fossil Book; has raised its trophies of ingenius art, and national
wealth, over the coal fields of Newcastle, the founderies of Wales, the
thousand productive engines of Sheffield and Manchester, the wonders of
locomotive-agency, on every sea, and civilized landj and over that Electric
tongue, which speaks in a moment, the exchanging purposes of comerce,
between them all. The power of this philosophy, while it has already fur-
nished those great physical advantages, still holds within itself, the sure but
unused power of clearing-up the obscurity of every intelectual and moral

To those great results of the boundles purposes of the Observative System,
I presume to join this humble contribution. The succes of that system, on
our present subject of speech, which has so long resisted all other means of
inquiry and which has too incautiously been considered, beyond discrimina-
tion;; may inded be only a triumph within the narow field of Vocal Phj'siology,
and Taste ; yet poorly as it may compare with those extended practical achieve-
ments, it is equaly with them, a triumph in principle and method^ of the wise
and comprehensive design of Baconian science; which, like the unlimited
circuit of Mature, encompases both the greatest and the least.

Altho Nature, the just and sole Executrix of Providential Will, knows
not, in the agency of her laws, the human prompting of Enthusiasm, yet
we may be pardoned if we should feel it, towards that Miglity M

Online LibraryJames RushThe philosophy of the human voice : embracing its physiological history; together with a system of principles, by which criticism in the art of elocution may be rendered inteligible [i.e. intelligible], and instruction, definite and comprehensive to which is added a brief analysis of song and recita → online text (page 12 of 59)