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

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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 28 of 59)
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to the inferior place of ho, will be by a discrete or skiping descent.
This transition, when measured by the scale, ilustrates the down-
ward Discrete or radical pitch of the octave, or near it.

The Downward Fifth may in like maner be distinguished, both
in its concrete pitch and its discrete radical change, by respectively

two extremes, with the concrete interval of song, and the discrete, of the
musical scale ; for a knowledge of their identity would have opened a view
of causes and effects, thruout the then deep mystery of Speech. Mr. Smith's
adopted authority prevented his making this simple comparison and conclu-
sion ; and he unfortunately, and most unlike himself, left the subject where
he found it. If instead of being satisfied with the argumentative diference
between those two cases, ho had only droped his ' reasoning' and raised the
Baconian Kite of experiment, his verbal conformity witii the learned rotine
of tlie schools, would on the first flash of observation have been surprised, and
his candid discernment philosopliicaly delighted, bj- the discovered identity
of so many of the measurable constituents of music and of Speech.

Let any one who is confirmed in the creed of this volume, read the article
here quoted, and ho will be struck by the cror and the evil of an individual
who can observe and think, relying implicitly on a world of those who do not.


aplyinoj them to tlie words of the 2)roceding examples] but witli
less emphatic force, and with a less striking intonation.

The concrete Descent of the Third may be heard, by pronouncing
tlie word Xo, as the last word of a sentence ; observing to give it
some length, and to exclude every expresion, except the simple
indicj\tion of the cadence. The downwai'd Radical pitch or skip
of the third, may be exemplified by pronouncing the phrase made
an attack, as a full close ; giving the sylables, made an at, in the
monotone, and making the satisfactory close on tack. For, the
sylable, at, being the first constituent of the triad; and by its short
quantity, incapable of completing the cadence by a descent of the
slow concrete, the voice of necessity leaps over the place of the
second constituent, and closes on tack, in the proper point of the

The effect of the Downward concrete Second or tone may be
heard on the last constituent of the diatonic triad ; and the radical
change of the second, in the descent of the constituents of the
same cadencej for its radicals succede each other by the downward
diference of a tone.

The downward concrete of the Semitone was described in the
last section, as plaintively obvious in the vocal transition from the
eighth to the seventh place of the scale. If the downward change
of Radical pitch, in a chix)matic melody, is like that of its cadencej
which however, in the last section, was stated as doubtfulj it folows
that we have no instance in curcnt speech, of the disd'ete downward
semitone. But we leave this for future observers.

If the Reader is by this time, expert in ascending both concretely
and discretely, every interval of the scale, he may, after ascending,
imodiately return by the same interval, with the impresion of its
extent upon his ear ; and by practice on all the intervals, in this
way become familiar with the difcrent degrees and characters of
the downward movement, both in its concrete and discrete forms.

We have (xjnsidcred the downward movement on long quanti-
ties ; and altho like the rising progre", it may be rapidly performed
on imutablc sylables ; yet when the exj)resi()n of a downward in-
terval is requircxl on them, the transition as with the upward, is
generaly made by the change of radical pitcli.

The cxprcsive powers of the downward radical and vanish will

298 DowjsrwARD badical axd vanishing movejiext.

be asigned, in a future consideration of the particular intervals of
the scale. As a general remark on its character^ it may be said,
in contrast to the interogative efect of the rising Third, Fifth,
and Octave, that the downward progres thru these intervals, both
concretely and by radical pitch, denotes positive afirmation ; di-
rectly the reverse of doubt, implied in a question. Some other
inquirer may hereafter, more acurately refer this expresion of the
downward concrete, to a general claas of phenomena in vocal science ;
and satisfy the demands of philosophy. I cannot however, with-
hold the question j yet wishing to be cautious with mere analogical
inferencej whether the positivenes may arise from its conjoining
with an emphatic import, a certain degree of the decisive char-
acter of the cadence ; for this seems to preclude the expectation of
further doubt or reply, by a satisfactory repose of the ultimate in-
tonation on a finished meaning or thot. In suport of this, let us
bring to mind, that the replications of doubtful argument, from a
submissive courtesy between sj^eakers, are not so often marked by
complete cadences as the decisive character in many of the phrases
would otherwise bear. Yet we know, that when asertions become
authoritative from truth, or dogmatic from opinion, the closing
descent of the cadence is freely employed as the definite seal of
self-confident affirmation.

After all however, Truth, the strict monitor of science, reproves
us for our conjectures, and alows us here, only to set-forth this
new instance of consistency in the ordinations of nature : for Jis
the mental state of inquiry is contrary to that of asurcd declara-
tionj so in the instinct of the voice expresing these oposite states,
the very oposite courses of rise, and of fall, are employed as their
respective intonations.

The downward movement, both in its concrete, and its discrete
form, when used for emphasis, will be particularly dcscribetl in a
future section. It is perhaps as impresive on the ear, as the
upward movement in its usual forms, but not in its piercing de-
gree. Amazement, wonder, surprise, and admiration, when not
conjoined with an interogative meaning, gencraly asumc this form
of expresion ; the extent of the interval being proportional to their
respective degrees of energy. The downward movement diforing
from the upward, only by its taking a diferent direction, we may


look for a like characteristic construction in each. The same
explosive fulncs should distinguish the radical ; the same equable
movement, its descent ; and the same delicate diminution, its final
vanish into silence.

After these general remarks on the subject, we procede to the
history of the particular intervals of the downward concrete.


Of the Interval of the Downward Octave,

The concrete Downward Octave, in adition to the expresion,
ascribed generaly to tlie downward movement, conveys in the
coloquial uses of the voice, the vivacity of facetious surprise, as
in the instance of the phrase well done, given above. It is a sign
of the pasionative state of mindj and in the above example, is the
very picture of amazement, and so to speak, raises the brow and
opens the eye of the voice. In its more dignified uses, there is
the highest degree of admiration, astonishment, and comand, either
alone or united with other mental states. The astonishment and
positivencs expresed by this interval, may coexist with the com-
placency of mirth, with the repugnance of fear, contempt, hatred,
and with almost any state of mind not incompatible with that of
astonishment, and comand. For tho these states have other signs
in expresion, yet when they go with this high degree of astonish-
ment, the downward octave is the true and only sign of the

In the following lines, from Milton's fifth book, the emphatic
sylable of the word, enormous, may rcceve the downward Octave,
as the sign of admiration, or of astonishment, just as the Reader
may choose to regard it.

For Nature hero
Wanton'd as in her prime, and play'd at will
Her virgin fancies, pouring forth more sweet,
Wild above rule or art; enormous blis.


As the same interval represents diferent mental conditions, It
may be inquired^ what modification of its structure may be neces-
avy. It was shown in the second section, that the concrete move-
ment, in its upward, and in its downward direction, bears with
distinguishable audibility, aditional force or stres on the begining,
the raidle, or the end of its progres thru a prolonged quantity.
The aplication of a diferent stres to the downward octave, vari-
ously modifies its character. On the radical, it denotes a high
degree of mirthful wonder. On the midle of its course, by a
swell at that place, the wonder becomes more serious and even
repulsive. On the lower extreme, reversing thus the natural
structure of the radical and vanish, it increases the degree of the
repulsion, and mingles with it some slight expresion of anger and
of scorn. This characteristic asigned to the octave, might at once
asure us that it is of rare ocurence. It may be found occasionally
in the intensity of coloquial excitement, and in the fervor of the
drama: but rarely perhaps, in the course of narative or plain
description ; tlie strained energy of its expresion scarcely finding
a place in melody, if not acompanied by wider downward inter-
vals, or wider waves. The preceding example of the Octave if
there aplicable, may however, be taken as an exception.

For an i lustration of the downward Radical Pitch of the
octave ; there is, in the first diagram of the fourteenth section, a
notation of the fall of the voice, an octave from the uper curent
of melodyj suposed to be on imutable sylablcsj to an indefinite
quantity, for the purpose of rising again by a concrete octave.
This downward radical pitch lias the same expresion as the down-
ward concrete octave ; and is employed in skiping from Imutable
sylables, in phrases of emphatic astonishment, admiration, and



Of the Interval of the Downward Fifth.

The last described interval variously denotes a quaint familiarity
and an emj)hatic force of wonder or comand. The Downward
concrete Fifth has in many respects a similar expresion ; but it
clotlies its agreeable surprise, admiration, and authority, with
greater dignity than the octave. This interval is often used on
imperative phrases. Its concrete, like that of the octave, may be
modified in meaning, by diferent aplications of stres.

In the folowing pasages from IMilton's fifth book, the words,
own, himself, all, fairest, and three, severaly marked, may for their
emphatic distinction, receve the downward fifth.

Mean while our primitive great sire, to meet
His God-like guest, walks forth, without more traia
Acompanied than with his own complete
Perfections: in himself was all his state.

But Eve
Undeck'd save with herself, more lovely fair
Than Wood-Nymph, or the fairest Godess feign'd
Of three that in mount Ida naked strove.

When the Queen says to Hamletj

If it be, [that is, if death be the common lot]
Why seems it so particular with thee ?

Hamlet returnsj

Seems, Madam, nay it is! I know not seems.

The word is, here represents the earnest surprise of the Prince,
at the misconception of his real condition. And his solemn state
of mind, which rejects, with indignation, the profanity of the
suposition, of any formal show in the deep reality of liis grief,


cannot be expresed by the simple radical and vanish. There is a
light surprise in this form of the concrete, unsuitable to the gravity
of his reverentive state. If the voice is sweled to a greater stres
as it descends, the severe and dignified conviction of the speaker
becomes at once remarkable. The intonation of this -line ^vithout,
however, representing the sweling stres on the falling fifthj may
be thus delineated :

Seems, Ma dam, nay it is! I know not seems.



Here a rising third, or the most moderate form of interogative
expresion, is set to the first word : for it includes a slight degi'ee
of surprised inquiry. The suceding clause, containing a positive
afirmation, has the downward fifth on is ; and the whole diagram
is calculated to show the oposite powers of expresion in the rising,
and the faling intervals. In a future section, it will be sho%vn
why the radical of this emphatic downward movement is set, as
here represented, so far above the line of the curent melody.

The Discrete transition of the faling fifth has the same expresion
as its concrete form. It is used on sylables that do not bear the
prolongation required for a slow concrete ; the two extremes of the
interval, as in all cases of discrete transition, either rising or filling,
being on two diferent sylables. The folowing notation exemplifies
the radical change or skip of the faling fifth :

Yet Bru tus says he was am biti ous.


This line, as it seems to me, requires the intonation of grave
surprise rather than that of contemptuous contradiction, with
which it is sometimes read; and this I have endeavored to express,
by the radical skip of a fifth, between the sylables of Bru-tus, and
of biti-ous. Tlie craft of Antony's oration, in Julius Ccesar, turns


upon the design to excite odium against the conspirators, by a
favorable representation of Caesar's virtues, rather than by the
coloring of their crimes. And tho in the well known sarcasm,
they are reported to be ^ honorable men,' certainly not with the
least aprobation of the title ; still, the vocal curl of sneer, some-
times heard on the words just quoted, is inapropriate and afected.
At least it is so, in the early part of the oration : and when at last
the speaker is encouraged to a bolder style of argument and lan-
guage, it is that of anger and revenge ; and these waste no time
in the winding course of contemptuous intonation. But whatever
may be said of other parts of the speech, I must claim for the
above sentence, those downward intervals w^hich expres the sur-
prise of the orator, that any one could so violently rev^erse the just
conclusions to be drawn from the enumerated acts of Caesar: leav-
ing the audience to infer from this surprise, that some other than
ordinary or honest motives must have influenced Brutus to make
the charge of ambition against him. Should the line be read in
the comon diatonic melody, with the diference of a tone only in
the radical pitch of its emphatic words, it w^ould report merely
what Brutus had saidj without the least indication of the state of
mind I have ascribed to it, and endeavored to ilustrate by the
preceding diagram.


OJ the Interval of tJie Downward Third.

The Downward Concrete Third has the expresion of the fifth,
in a more moderate degree.

Dignity of vocal character, like that of personal gesture, con-
sists not only in the slownes of time, and the restraint of forceful
efort, but in a limitation within the widest range of movement.
And as there is more composure in an interogative rise by the
third j 80 the expresion of authority and admiration is most sub-
dued in the rise of this downward intervaL


One remarkable efect. of the concrete descent of the third, on a
single sylable of long quantity, is shown at the end of a member,
or of a clause, containing a terminated thotj altho it. may not be
marked by the punctuation of a period. This use of the third
was noticed and ilustrated in the eio-hth section, and there de-
scribed as the feeble Cadence. Its character is not quite definite :
for while indicating a close at its place, it does not altogether pre-
vent a further continuation. No one on hearing' this cadence,
would supose the discourse to be necesarily finished.

As the rising third is sometimes used for emphasis alone, inde-
pendently of its interogative importj so the faling thiixl may be
employed without expresing surprise or comand, soley for varying
the efect of intonation. This may be ilustrated by the folowing
diagram r

None but


brave !.

None but


brave f

ir ^






® ^



None but



de serve



^ if



rT ^



w ^


Altho no inquiiy is conveyed by these lines, we have the rising
interval of the third on one of the emphatic words. Yet there is
a degree of admiration in the case, that may be expresed by this
upward third. And it will be shown hereafter that all emphatic
words, wliatever other states of mind they may excite, do convey
sometliing of the admirable. On this ground then the emphatic
repetitions of the Avord brave might rcceve the same interval. The
intonation is here varietl by seting the plain rising second to the
first bravBy the downward third to the second, and the rising third
to the last: this, together with the faling thiixl on the word nmie,
in its third place, does produce at least variety. I luive described
and represented these intonations as simple concretes; but the
emphatic words being long quantities, tlicy require for a full
efect, their aproprlate form of the wave. SiK^vkei-s who are not
aware of the resources of intonation, and who cannot therefore


skilfiily comand it, endeavor to atiiin a desirable variety in tliese
lines, l)v a transfer of the emphasis o^ force; and aply it sucesively
to none and but and hrcwe. This I know, wius, and perhaps still is
the formula for these lines, in all our Schools and Colleges; by the
authority of English Elocution. Regarding here the aparent pur-
pose of the poet, and the consistent design of vocal expresion, this
variation is altoijether inadmisible. The distinction made in this, by aplying stress to (liferent words, in each repetition, gives
diferent meanings to the phrase. But reiteration is the exprcsive
sign of an acumulative energy of thot or pasion ; and never of its
change. The atempt therefore to vary the meaning of this phrase,
which must be identical under any change of emphasis, ofends
against both dignity and truth, and betrays a limited power over
the ample means for vocal variety. A full comand of quantity,
and of the numerous forms of expresion, renders it easy to releve
the ear from monotony, without misrepresenting the author : for,
if these lines were a prompting of poetry, and not like some other
parts of the Ode, a monotonous trick of words, the purpose must
have been intended, under any mental climax, to be one and the
same, in all the repetitions.

In the above notation, I have not ilustrated the uses of time,
force, the tremor, and other forms of intonation, which are here
available, and give aditional means for variety.

The downward radical pitch of the third is employed for em-
phasis, on imutable sylables. But it has a particular use in efect-
ing an impresive consumation of the close of melody. In the
eighth section it was shown, that diferent species of the cadence
denote various degrees of repose ; the second tripartite form, in
which each of the radicals with its doM'nward vanish, is heard dis-
tinctly in succesive descent, being the most marked indication of
the period. It is posible however, to increase the characteristic of
this form, by aditional means. When a melody is in the higher
range of pitch, a gradual descent of the curent, as it aproachcs the
cadence, may be properly employed for that purpose. Yet it is
more elegant and impresive, to aply the downward radical change
of a third, with eitiicr a rising or faling concrete, acording to the
effect desired, on some sylable preceding the close ; as in the
folowing notation :


Through E den took their sol i ta ry way


When the whole of this line is read, with only the radical change
of a second j the cadence with its three descending radicals and con-
cretes, does mark the fulnes of a period. By making the radical
skip of a downward third, from den to took, we have that warning
of the period, or that note of preparation, wliich produces the
uterly reposing conclusion, required by the audience, and due by
the reader, at the termination of Paradise Lost. The last line of
Pope's translation of the Iliad may be read to the same notation.
' And peaceful slept the mighty Hector's shade.' It does not apear,
in this form of the Cadence, that the sylable should be emphatic,
except for its preparatory purpose ; or that it should be, in diferent
sentences, at any fixed distance from the cadence. Nor is a choice
forbiden, between words more or less removed from the close, in
the same sentence. In the two preceding examples of iambic lines,
it falls on the cesura of a like foot, in each. In the folowing, from
the final Benediction of the Church-service, it ocurs imediately
preceding the Triad. ' The felowship of the Holy Ghost, be with
us all evermore.' In the fulfilment of Elisha's imprecation on
Gehazi, it may be placed either on the sixth or ninth sylable be-
fore the cadence, and perhaps on both. 'And he went out from
his presence, a leper as wliite as snow.' It is to be remarked here,
that a concrete downward third or fifth may serve the same termi-
native purpose; and that in each case this emphatic distinction
should not be given to a trivial word that does not deserve it.

Other cadences denote, in various degrees, the conclusion of a
particular thot. This Prepared Cadence, if we may so call it,
impliesj the subject itself of a paragraph, a chapter, or a volume,
is finished. I leave future observei*s, to perceve otlier phenomena
on this subject, and to lay down rules for construction and for

In the eighth section, five forms of the cadence are named.
The Prepared, which is however, no more than a stresful adition
to the close, may be united with each of these, if we may perhaps


except the feeble cadence ; but its purpose is only strictly fulfiled
when it is placed before the second triad, with a downward con-
crete on each of its constituents. All the forms of the cadence
are severaly required by speakers, to give a just character and
variety to the close.

It is not expected, the Reader will be able at once to distinguish
and to aply all the varieties of the cadence. Some of them how-
ever, cannot be mistaken. The prepared form of the faling triad,
is the most complete ; and this is clearly separable from what was
called the feeble cadence, or the faintest indication of the period.
With atention to our history, no ear will, on exemplification, con-
found the efect of the two tripartites, and the feeble, with that of
the prepared cadence.

I have little to say of the Minor third ; the expresion of its
downward, like that of its upward concrete, is plaintive. As ray
ear informs me, it is only heard as a fault in speech.

Oj the Doumward Second and Semitone.

I HAVE classed the Downward Second and Semitone, under the
same head, on acount of the limited extent of the remarks here
made upon them. They liave a high importance in speech ; and
this, principaly as downward continuations of their previous rise
into that form of intonation, caled the Wave.

A remarkable use of the downward concrete second or tone, is
as the last constituent of both the diatonic and the chromatic ca-
dence. It forms the constituent concretes of the falwg triad ; and
is used, tho its eflPect is not very conspicuous, in the sucesions of
the diatonic melody, for the purj)ose of contrast with the rising
second, which, in the history of that melody was, acording to tlic
progresive method of unfolding our subject, given as its sole


The downward concrete semitone is employed for variety, in the
curent of a chromatic melody. It is also aplied to the firet and
second constituents of a chromatic cadence ; the radical descent of
this cadence being by the skip of a whole tone ; and the downward
vanish on the last or closing constituent, being thru the space of
that same second or tone.

In terminating the history of the downward intervals, one can-
not avoid pausing for a moment, in admiration at the simple forms
of the few, well-adjusted, and significant signs, discoverable in the
endles intermingling and suposed complexity, of the constituents
employed for vocal expresion. Nor can the prophetic eye of
science and taste well survey these eficient and manageable signs,
without reaching to some foreknowledge of that Systematic Art of
Speech, which at some distant day, must be raised upon the new

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 28 of 59)