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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 13 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 13 of 59)
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the scale are made by a shriler kind called the' Falsete. The
natural voice is capable of the discrete, the concrete, and the
tremulous progresion. By the concrete and tremulous move-
ment, the natural may be continued into the falsete without a
perceptible point of union : for the concrete rise in vehement in-
terogation, sometimes pases above the limit of the natural scide,
and thereby avoids that unpleasant break in the transition to the
falsete, which in the discrete scale is remarkable both as to sound,



136 THE MECHANISM

and to clificulty in executive efort, except witli persons of great
vocal skill. The peculiar defect of vocality and of intonation at
this point of the discrete scale of song, has receved the name of
* false note.'

The natural voice is said to be produced by the vibration
of the chords of the glottis. This has been infered, from a
suposed analogy between the action of the human organ, and
that of the dog, in which the vibration has been observed, on
exposing the glotis during the cries of the animalj and from
the vibration of the chords, by blowing thru the human larynx,
when removed from the body. The conclusion is therefore prob-
able, but until it is seen in the living function of the part, or
until there is suficient aproximation to this proof by other
means, it cannot be admited as a portion of exact physiological
science.

With regard to the mechanical cause of the Variations of Pitch
in the natural voice, diferent notions, and they are only notions,
have been proposed by their respective advocates. They were
transiently enumerated above.* *

* Shortly after the first publication of this Work, in January, eighten
hundred and twenty-sevenj Mr. Robert Willis, of Caius College, Cam-
bridge, folowing up the experiments of Kratzenstein and Kempelen, ob-
tained by means of tubular and other ingenius contrivances, many inter-
esting results, aproaching to the satisfactory conclusion, that vocal sotind is
produced, on the principle of the Reed, by the vibration of the ligamentous
chords of the glottis. The artificial contrivances further showed by analogy,
that Pitch may be in ^^a?-^ produced by certain variations of these chords,
as they form the aperture of the glottis ; still leaving it undetermined, by
what other influence this pitch may be partly made or modified, in the
proper vocal organ. By another contrivance, he was enabled to produce
several of the vowel sounds.

The purpose of this Volume docs not require a special notice of the inter-
esting details of Mr. Willis' inquiry. They do not howevor, in point of pre-
cise and permanent knowledge, e.\tend the subject much beyond what we
have stated in the text, to be the opinions of other writers; and it is there
said in caution^ we must not supose, the mechanism of the voice nocesarily
resembles that of certain instruments of music : for to be known perfectly,
it must be known in itself.

It is but a partial view, to show that vowel sounds may bo made by certain
kinds of tubes, in conection with a reed, and a bowl with a sliding cover.
Cons(}nants as well as vowels are only diferent kinds of sound, that may bo
cla-sed, acording to their causes, as Human, Sub-Animal, and Mechanical.



OP THE VOICE. 137

On this subject, about which we know so little, but on wliich
theorists are ready to fix on anything^ it is well to begin the in-
vestigation of some curent opinions, with the process of exclusion ;
by showing what does not produce pitch, in the visible parts of the
vocal aparatus.

The Pitch of the natural voice does not apear to be directly
produced by the mouth and fauces, for it will be seen on examina-
tion, that the rise and fall on the scale, may be severaly efected
by all the tonic elements ; and that during the exclusive intona-
tion of each, the positions of the tongue and fauces remain un-
alteredj if we except some slight unsteadines of the tongue and
soft palate, which can have no relation to the definite divisions of
pitch.

The sound of a-we is made, while the tongue is about on a level
with the lower teeth ; the mouth being open, for observation, and
all the parts of this vocal cavity having the same position, as in an
act of silent respiration. In performing the run of pitch on this
element, we must however, have regard to a change of the mech-
anism of its radical, to that of e-rr, in the articulation of its vanish,
which however, has no effect in this case, as it exists equally in the
downward pitch. The sound of e-ve is made by aproximating
the tongue to the roof of the mouth, leaving between them a
narow passage for the air. In one of these instances, the avenue
of the mouth and fauces is free ; in the other, the tongue almost

The human are few, the sub-animal, and mechanical, inumerable. Our -per-
ception of the human vowels with their alphabetic characters, and with thots
and pasions, when united with consonants into words, seems to represent
them as altogether diferent from sub-animal and mechanical sounds. There-
is no vowel in the voice of man, that is not to be heard from some spccchles
brute, or bird, or insect, or in the inumerable sounds, made by the reciprocal
action between air, and the varied forms and conditions of solids and fluids.
The fauces and larynx ofer only the case of a peculiar and moistened struc-
ture, forming those sounds, which in the egotism of our education, hardly
our constitution, we have so far identified with humanity, as to prevent our
imediate notice of similar sub-animal and mechanical .sounds.

The comon words of the world veil the true relation.ship of thin



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 13 of 59)