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 16 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 16 of 59)
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nyms. But having given a new and far-reaching analysis j a new
arangement and nomenclature became necesary ; and imperfect as


it may be, the leading lines of the methodic survey will aford
others, an example at least of a failure ; Avhich by the negative
asistance of a rejected eror, may help to remove some of the difi-
culty that might otherwise delay succes. Let me however, caution
my Readers, not to rely so implicitly on the suspicions of an
author against himself, as hastily to confirm his concesive and due
distrust, of what wiser and asuring time may at length show to
be worthy of adoption.

Of all this esay, the arangement I have been obliged to ofer
on the subject of expresion, has delayed if not perplexed me the
most, and satisfied me least : since it aims to divide for the pur-
pose of instruction, what Nature in her purposed agency, seems to
have joined by the chain, or as we may here call it, the concrete
conection of all her creative transitions. In other parts of this
Work, I had, where hapily no language existed, to make one for
untold ])henomena : in this, to encounter a desperate confasion in
the language of the scholastic world, formed before it knew dis-
tinctly what it had to name.

The clasifications of science were instituted in part, to assist the
working powers of the intelect ; yet in fulfiling the purpose of
comunicating and preserving knowletlge, they unfortunately some-
times produce the undesigned hindrance of its alteration or ad-
vancement, by creating a belief of its systematic completion. Tho
the numberles revolutions in scientific arangement are full of ad-
monitionsj we forget how often the fictitious afinities, and the
distinctions of system have on the one hand, presumptuously
united the intended divisions of Nature, and on the other, broken
the beautiful conection of her circle of truth.

In submision to the neccsities of instruction, I have atemptcd,
by an arangement, however imperfect, to distinguisii the several
states of mindj and the several vocal signs that represent them ;
with the hope that futin-e inquiry may. determine their real rela-
tionships, by a full and acurate history of the Mind, and of tho
Voice. For we may as well supose, all those works of uscfulnes
are already acomplished, which are foretold by the just and ex-
tended powers of human observation, and the «ilculated ])romises
of Science^ as that those Delightful Arts, which employ while they
regulate the refined purposes of perception, have yet disclosed their


coming grandeurs and graces, prefigured, under the future exten-
sion of knowledge and prece})t, in the Prophetic Book of Taste.
Let us leave the seventh day of rest, to the holiday rejoicing of
physicians, laNvyers, priests, and politicians, who look upon their
disitstrous creations, and cuning schemes for human misery, and
pronounce them original, and finished, and good. Let them build
strongly around the vaunted perfection of their Theories, Codes,
Councils, and Constitutions. Let them guard the ark of a fore-
father's wisdom, and proclaim its unalterable holines to the people,
for the safety, honor and emolument of the keeper. The great
Contributions to Knowledge, like the great and progresive Crea-
tions of Nature herself, have never yet found and perhaps never
will find, their day of rest ; and the renowned forefathers of many
a work of usefulnes as well as glory are, by the like merit or am-
bition which raised their own temporary greatnes, transmuted to
corigible children, in the eye of the advancing labor of a later age.

It has been aleged of the expresion of speech, that a discrimi-
nation of its concealed and delicate agency, is beyond the scrutiny
of the human ear. If the term human ear is sarcasticaly used
for that fruitlesly busy and slavish organ, which has so long
listened for the clear voice of nature, amid the conflicting tumult
of opinion and authority, we mast admit and regret the truth of
the assertion. But it is not true of a keen, indastrious, and inde-
pendent exercise of the senses; nor can it be afirmed without pro-
fanity, of that supreme power of observation, deputed among the
final causes of creation, for the efective gathering of truth, and the
progresive improvement of mankind.

Our conquests in knowledge must be the joint achievement of
cautious, but free-minded and indastrious Numbers, and of de-
liberate, patient, and unwasted Time. Leaving then to populous
futurity the gradual completion of the Work, I looked around for
present asistance: and having, with more need than hojxi, yet with
an untold purpose, consulted the views of others on the analytic
means for delineating the voice of exprcsionj I generaly receved
some query like this : Is it posible to recognize and measure all
those delicate variations of sound, that have pased so long witliout
detection, and that seem scarcely more amenable to sense than the
atoms of air on which they are made ? It is possible to do all


this : and if we cannot ' Find the way ' for a victorious develop-
ment of nature, 'let usj' with the maxim, and in the contriving
thot, and resolution of the great Carthagenian Captainj 'let us
Make one.'

It will not be denied, that vocality, force, time, and intonation,
under all their forms, constituting the expresion. of speech, may be
distinctly heard ; nor will it be maintained^ there is the least
liability, even in the comon ear, to misaprehend, or to confound
the varied states of mind, they respectively convey. No : still it is
objected, that the peculiar kind, the measurable degree, and the
comingling variety of those forms cannot be distinguished. But
as the vocal movements thus distinctly audible, include all these
conditions ; and the states and purposes of the mind are so readily
recognized under all their kinds, degrees, and combinations, I leave
it to those who make the objection, to ask themselves j if a full
and clear discrimination of the vocal signs is not implied in that
recognition. In truth, even the most delicate voices of thot and
expresion, tho suposed to be imperceptible, are always distinctly
heard ; and if the ready comprehension of their mental purpose
may decide the question, are always recognized and measured, in
the strictest meaning of the words : but they have never been ana-
lyticaly perceved, and definitely named. For even those who have
pretended to observe, and to teach on the subject of tlie voice have
as yet, no language for the discriminations, absolutely neccsary in
the explanation of speech, and every day instinctively made, even
by the popular ear. I propose to give a precise history of the
vocal means for representing the various states of thot and of
pasion ; to point out their modes, forms, and varieties, and to asign
a definite nomenclature to them.

There is perhaps no vain confidence, in sujiosing the Header to
be now well acquainted with the character of the radical and van-
ishing movement. This wide-reaching function of the voice, has
been represented under its difercnt forms, in speech and song.
We have traced it in the literal elements, and seen its influence in
directing the phenomena of sylables. I have yet to show its in-
strumentality in tlic various and delicate uses of exjirossion : and
if I shall bo able thereby to unfold the principles of this marvel-
ous mystery of Nature, it will be, by developing some of the



particulars of that greater marvel of agency, in which a wise
simplicity of means is employed thruout her profuse and never-
wasteful creations.

Five general divisions of the modes of vocal sound were made
in the first section of this essay. In summary repetition, they arej
Vocality, or kind of voice ; Time, or the measure of its duration ;
Force, or the variations of strength and weaknes ; Abruptnes, or
an explosive uterance; and Pitch, or the variations of acutcnes
and gravity. It will be shown, that each of these general modes
is inclusive of many forms and varieties, with their diferent
degrees; and that the now measurably thotive and pasionative
signs of speech, consist of the unmysterious use of the diferent
forms and varieties of these modes, and of their diferent combi-
nations with each other.


Of the Pitch of the Voice.

The mode of the voice we have now to consider, altho not
more esential than the others, in the constituency of sjjeech, has
nevertheles, from our ignorance of its particular forms and uses,
been a subject of wonder ; and from our childish love of wonder
has become especialy a subject of interesting inquiry. To this
mode of Pitch belong the many forms and varieties of Intona-
tion, or as they have been called in the schools of Khetoric and
Prosody, by a sort of prescriptive determination, the ' undiscover-
able or unasignable Tones or acents of the voice.'

The Greeks in their fondnes for definition and division, were
always disposed to go to the root of whatever knowledge they be-
leved to have a root, and at the same time to be worthy of inquiry.
They seem therefore, as we might infer from their want of thotful
curiosityj seting aside their neglect of observation^ to have con-
sidered a full analysis of sjieech, as impracticable, or as usclcs.
Either from these or other causes, the subject so feebly atracted


their atention, that we might be disposed to think they derived
their knowledge of the Shding or concrete function, from Egypt
or from some earlier Eastern source. Had it been discovered in
the school of Pythagoras, or of Aristoxenus, it does not seem
probable, that having found tliis key to the entrance of speech,
they would have closed their hearing to what yet remained within
the secrecy of nature : for, with a moderate degree of curiosity,
and a very little further observation of the simple concrete, they
would have perceved that important subdivision of its structure,
which we have described as the Radical and Vanish. However
this may have been, neither the Greeks nor the Romans, aparently
writing all they knew on the practical uses of the concrete acentj
have left the least record of their oj)inions, their expectations, or
their hopes on this subject, beyond the restricted limit of what
they already knew. Yet indispensable as their discovery of the
concrete was to the development of speechj it is certain, they
never aded to the first and simple perception of this acentual slide,
tlie smalest item of discriminative analysis. The gramarians and
comentators of the Alexandrian, Byzantine, and of subsequent
schools, in discussing the subject of Greek acent, never extended
their inquiry beyond the indefinite opinions of more ancient
writers ; while still later authors and teachers, with the determined
faith and worship of classical scholarship, beleving it was not done
by the Greeks, because it realy could not be done at all, have at
last united in a general persuasion, nay conviction, that any further
discovery is impossible.*

* As Dionysius of Halicarnassus, in his treatise ' On the Arrangement of
Words,' has described more particularly, the character and practical uses of
this acent or inflection, than any other Greek or Roman writer^ I shall, to
show how limited and indelinite he is, give from his eleventh section, an
extract of all ho says on this point ; and shall insert in its course some
explanatory parenthetic remarks.

' There is in oratorical discourse, a kind of time, difcring from that of Song,
and {from the melody) of Music, only in degree, but not in kind or quality.'
( We sup2iose he means that each employs intervals, but speech fewer, and those
of less extent.) Imediatoly folowing-up the thot, he adds: 'There is in ora-
torical discourse, (and in music,) the like tiuie, that charms the car; the like
rythmus, that sustains the voice ; \by the easy and graceful step of acnif and
quantity ;) the like variety that excites atention ; and a like conformity of the
whole to its purpose ; the only diference being in the more and the loss.' (/?i


If then we liave come to a describable perception of the con-
stituents of the voice, let us learn to apply it.

There is in our first section, a compendious view of the various
forms of Pitchj from the minute interval of the tremulous scale,
to the octave, and beyond it, both in theu* upward and downward

the number and extent of the intervals.) 'In oratorical discourse, the tune of
the voice is restricted to the interval of a Fifth, or thereabouts. That is, it
does not vary beyond three tones and a half, {these being the constituents of a
Fifth,) either in an upward or downward direction. It is not to be suposedj
all the words of discourse are to be pronounced with the same accent ; (inflec-
tio7i or concrete ;) for one is to have an acute, {risi7ig,) another a grave (faling)
acent, and another to have both, [the acute, joined in continuation loith the
grave, on the same sylable,) which is called the Circumflex.' Again, ' some
words have the acute and the grave separately heard on diferent sylables. In
disylables, there is no middle place for aplying an acute or grave. {A truisin ;
for where there is no midle sylable there can be no midle accent. ) In polysylables
of every kind, one of the sylables has the acute accent and the rest the grave.'
' The tune [say intonation) of instruments and of song, is by no means limited
as in speech, to this interval of the Fifth ; but runs through the octave, Fifth,
fourth, second, semitone, and according to some, the quarter tone.'

Here is all that Dionysius says, on what we have been taught to think the
profound knowledge and skill of the Greeks, in the philosophy and practice
of this singitig, or as we must now call it intonation, in speech. Nor is this
to be taken as a mere sumary of a fuler detail of knowledge ; as the descrip-
tion contains more particulars than all the still-remaining rhetorical and
musical writings of the ancients. But we findj this only atempt to describe
in detail, the melody of Grecian discourse, refers especialy to that equaly
obscure, and disputed question j the Acentual stress on sylables; which cer-
tainly would not have been the case, could any of the numerous authors on
this subject have had the least thot of a natural and comprehensive system of
intonation. Indeed the acount of the ' tune' of speech, by Dionysius, and by
all the writers on rhetoric and music, seems to have been given only under
some vague, and as we must now consider it, absurd notion of the acute, grave,
and circumflex acent or inflection, being invariably applied to certain syl-
ablesj both when pronounced alone, and in the curent of discourse. We
must therefore concludej from this belief of the Greeks, that all their sylabic
acents were unchangeable^ it could never have entered their minds, to con-
ceve a measurable and varied melody on sucesive sylables in speech. It would
be wrong, to sav;; Dionysius and his Grecians did not know their own opin-
ions about the voice ; but I must think, a strict observer in this case will say,
they knew almost nothing of its reality. When a false jierception is measured
by itself, as hapens in systems raised upon authority or conceit, all that is
defective, distorted, or superfluous, comes out in perfect acord with its own
rule, and blinds us to the eror. It is a comparison with the rule of observa-
tion, which is found only in nature, that shows its deformity.


direction, together with their union into, various forms of the
wave. The greater part of these forms, like those of Vocality,
Time, and Force, are employed in the expresion of pasion : and
only a few for denoting simple thought. It is my design to show
how these diferent forms of pitch are used for the several condi-
tions and purposes of the mind.

Man, notwithstanding the vain-glorious boast of his moral
destiny, his religion, and his progresive civilizationj is now as
he has been, so generaly, an Animal of fierce desires or passions,
and so rarely a being of observation and reflectionj that we must
not be surprised to find the greater number of his vocal signs,
expressive of this ardent and predominating complexion of his
character. Of all these upward and downward intervals of the
scalej and all the waves in their direct and inverted, equal and
unequal, single and double forms, there is but one which is not
so employed. The simple rise and fall of the second, with its
wave, when used for narative, or for the plain statement of an
unexcited thotj is the only intonated voice of man that does not
spring from a pasionative, or in some degree, an earnest condition
of his mind. If we listen to his ignorance, his fears, superstition,
selfishnes, arogance, and injustice, we hear them under the forms
of vivid vocal expression. We have the rising intervals of the
third, fifth, and octave, for interogatives, not of kindnes, but of
the fierce and persecuting Catechists of our life and faith ; the
downward third, fifth, and octave, for dogmatic, or tyranical
comand ; waves for the wonder of ignorance, the snarling of
ill-humor, and the curling voice of contempt ; the piercing hight
of the falsete, for the scream of terror, the brawls of intemper-
ance, and the shouts of the fanatic around the stake of the
martyr ; the semitone, for the peevish whine of discontent, and for
the puling cant of the hypocrite and knave, who thus strive in
vain to conceal their crafty designs. Then listen to him on those
rare ocasions, when he forgets himself and his pasions, and has
to utcr a useful thot, or plainly to naratcj and you will hear the
second, the unobtrusive interval of the scale, in the admirable
adaptation of Nature, made the simple sign of the dispasionatc
jierception of her wisdom and truth. In short, man as an Indi-
vidual, is in his forms of intonation, only the type of an eternal



National Character ; always prone to be vividly expresive of its
vain-glory, and its emulative contempt of others ; emphatic in
self-will ; vociferous in cupidity ; and unjustly agresive in its
high-toned asumptions and im2)erative threats ; with the piercing
and prevailing cry of war, from within and from without, and only
ocasionaly resting in the quiet intonation of moral and intelectual
peace, with the Temple of the pasionative vocal Janus shut.

In describing the radical and vanish, the simple interval of the
inexpresive second was represented ts an individual function,
under its form of the equable concrete, on a single tonic element.
We will consider in the next section, its aplication to sucesive
sylables and words, in sentences of continuous speech. This con-
tinuous style or Drift of speech, formed by the simple thotive
second, cannot from the character of that second, have what we
call expresion. It may therefore seem that continuoiLs speech in
the second, is designed to be a plain and colorles ground, for the
contrasted display of the vivid voice of wider or pasionative inter-
vals, aplied to ocasional sylables in its course. And here the
Reader may perceve one motive for our proposed distinction be-
tween the non-expresive, so to c^ll it, and the expresive character
of the constituents of speech.

It was formerly stated that the notes of the musical scale, under
a certain order of sucesion, constitute the melody of song; and
we now have to show in what maner a sucesion of concrete and
discrete intervals in the speaking scale constitutes, under some
peculiarity of structure, the ISIelody of Speech.

Since I am about to represent that continuous melody of a second,
or tone, as the ground upon which other intervals, and other con-
stituents of speech are to be distributed, I must beg the student to
give his deliberate atention to the subject.

The sucesion of sylables in plain narative or descriptive style,
being thru the intervals of a concrete and discrete tone, tlie melody
is specified as Diatonic.



Of the Diatonic Melody of Speech ; together with an inquiry,

how far the Musical terms, Key and Modulation,

are aplicable to it.

When the radical and' vanishing movement was described, it
was regarded individualy or as aplied to a single sylable. But as
speech consists for the most part of a series of sylables, on each of
which some form of the concrete instinctively ocurs, it is necesary
to consider the use and relationships of the radical and vanish, in
its repeated aplication to the sucesive sylables of discourse.

In plain Narrative or Description, or as we called it, Thotive
discourse, the concrete of each sylable moves thru the interval of
a tone : and the sucesive concretes have a diference in the place of
their pitch, relatively to each other. The aplication of these con-
cretes to sylables, and the maner of varying the sucesion of the
places of their pitch, are exemplified on the folowing altered
sentence of the Soothsayer, in Antony and Cleojiatra.






in —

— fi-













book of se ere cy.



If we supose these lines and the included spaces to denote, each
in proximate order, tlie diference of a tone, the sucesion of tlie
several radicals with their isuing vanish, will show the places of
the sylables of the superscribed words, in easy and unimpasionetl
uterancc. The percei)tion of the efoct of the concretes, and of
their sucesions here exemplified, is caled the Melody of Speech.

A strict definition of the term, melody of speech, embraces the


modes of pitch, force, and time, together with the pause ; and
regards likewise, intervals of the saile wider than above exempli-
fied, as well as intervals with a downward movement; for all these
are employed in the course of melody : yet as each of them con-
sistently with their place and purpose, Mill be separately described
hereafter, the present section is limited to the subject of pitch,
when the progresion is made exclusively through the rising con-
crete, and the rising and faling discrete interval of a tone ; consti-
tuting the proper Diatonic Melody.

The diference of pitch in this progresion is at first to be per-
ceved only by close observation, and by well-directed experiment.
The pupil being able to intonate the scale, let him practice the in-
terval of a second on sylabks, instead of on the simple tonic ele-
ment ; using a diferent sylable for each degree. Thus prepared, let
him read the line of the preceding diagram, and try to recognize its
intonation by slowly pronouncing, or rather hacJcing-out only the
tonic element of each sylable ; and giving those elements so short
and abrupt a sound, that the reading being inarticulate may re-
semble the sucesions of a short cough. This method will make
the variations of pitch more distinguishable, than when the other
elements of the sylable are utered together with the tonic.

If this contrived uterance should not aford a clear percej)tion,
that the radical of a given sylable rises or falls a tone, from the
place of the preceding one, let the pupil measure the questionable
relation of the two sounds, by the rule of the scale, in the folow-
ing maner. AV'hile he pronounces the two sylables as if he were
reading, let him notice their pitch, as degrees of the scale. When
the second is above the first, those two sylabic sounds will form the
first two degrees of the rising scale ; and continuing to rLse by an
alternate use of these sylables, he will complete that scale. When
the second sylable is beloio the first, he will, on ading one or more
sylables below the second, recognize the peculiar efect heard at
the close of the scale, and on a fall of the voice at a period of
discourse ; for this last efect is produced only by downward de-
grees. In the use of the means here proposed, the ear must with
divided atcntion, be directed, aparently at the same time to the
progres of the equable concrete in the spoken melody, and to the
succsion of notes on the musical scale.


To explain the system of melody, we must consider the sucesiou
of concretes both in the course of a sentence, and at its close.
These divisions may be respectively termed, the Curent melody,
and the melody of the Cadence.

The curent melody, or the sucesion of rise and fall, employed
on all the sylables of a sentence, except the last three, may be thus

In simple thotive or narative language, having no expresion,

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 16 of 59)