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 36 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 36 of 59)
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plosion of d into an would produce the coalescence bad dangels, or
ba-dangels. But as the arangement of elements is a casual thing,
it must hapen that the same word will ocur in discourse, both with
and without a preceding abrupt element ; and besides, the comon
exertion of force does not require the coalescence. These circum-
stances will prevent the effect of the junction becoming familiar
to the ear, and pasing for a proper and constant character of the
Avord. A forcible pronunciation acording to this methotl, will
therefore sometimes create confusion in the perception of words ;
and lead in most instances, to that momentary hesitation on the
part of an audience, which prevents a ready comprehension of oral
discourse. Let the phrase 7nusic sweet art, be pronounced in this
manner, and the combination will present an image both ludicrous
and contradictory.

' If what has been said, on the means for efecting distinct articu-
lation, by a full and clearly formed radical stres, is strictly apliod;
the designed purpose of this junction of tonic with abrupt elements
may be acomplished without interfering with the perception of a
clear outline in the boundary of words ; for this demarkation is
riecesary for distinct and dignified uterance, in the thotful purpose
of an exalted elocution.

In the rapid energy of coloquial speech, and of the pasionate
haste of emphatic discourse, this coalescence of the elements is
more liable to ocur ; nor in these instances can it always be avoided.



OJ the GtUural Vibration.

In our section on the -mechanism of the voice, it was said that
the retraction of the root of the tongue, together with a closure of
the pharynx, produces a contact of the sides of tlie vocal canal
above the glotis, and gives a harsh vibration^ from the gush of air
thru the straitened pasage. This peculiar sound may be made on
both tonic and subtonic elements ; nor is their articulation much
afected, by union with this Grating noise. I have caled this func-
tion the Gutural Vibration, on acount of its aparent formal cause.

This gutural function is practicable on all the intervals of the
scale ; and it adds to their respective characters, its own peculiar
expresion. This expresion consists in the strongest degree of con-
tempt, disgust, aversion, or execration ; and these states are most
strongly marked on the intonation of the waves.

When the gutural vibration is given with an exploded radical
stres, it makes the speaker himself feel, in its disruption, that the
efect must spread widely around him ; and by this combined per-
cusive influence must, with the fulest power of expresion, break
thru the ear, and so to speak, into the very heart of an audience.

Having thus described the peculiar forijis and degrees of Vo-
cality. Time, Force, Abruptnes, and Pitch, and having shown the
aplication of force to the diferent parts of the concrete^ we are now
prepared to consider their various uses on single words and sylables,
comprehended under the terms Acent, and Emphasis. This detail
will form respectively the subjects of the two folowing sections.



Of Acent.

Agent is defined in philology to bej the Distinguishing of one
sylable of a word from others, by the aplication of greater vocal
force upon it. This is a true, but limited acount of acentj for it
will be found that the acentual characteristic consists in a sylable
being brought under the special notice of the ear. This may be
done by force ; but it may be likewise efected with other audible

In a mature language, no word utcred singly, except as an elip-
tical proposition, conveys any inteligible relationship or meaning.
Acent, as we use the term, is an atribute only of individual words,
and cannot therefore embrace what is properly caled expresion.
When a word, either from force or other cause, denotes a remark-
able meaning, it constitutes what is called Emphasis.

If we have here acurately stated the diference between acent
and emphasisj Acent may be described in general terms, to be the
fixed, but inthotive, and inexpresive distinction between the sylables
of a word ; and forming in every word of more than one, that
esential and striking feature, by which thut or pasion is, when re-
quired, cmphaticaly conveyed. This simple audible-prominence
of acent may be efected by radical stresj the loud concretej and a
longer quantity on the noted sylable.

And First. Radical stres is the apropriate acent of imutable
sylables. The word iterated has four short sylables, with the acent
on the first. Its brevity not admitting the distinction of a pro-
longed quantity, or even of the loud concrete, the acent must be
made by a suden burst of the Radical, into a momentary stres.
The acent may be readily transfercd to each of the other sylables,
by giving the necesary degree of radical abruptncs respectively to

Second. Sylables of suficicnt length to render the radical and
vanishing movement conizable, admit of acentual distinction by
the Loud concrete. In the word PacUngton, the three sylables


are of moderate length, and about equal. As the first has quan-
tity suficient to prevent the necesity of adopting the explosive
radical stres, its high acentual relief can be brought outj and
readily transfered to each of the others, by the loud concrete alone.
Sylables adapted to the loud concrete may receve at the same time,
an adition of the radical stres ; the former however being adequate
to the inexpresive purpose of acent, radical abruptnes is unecesary.

As the Thoro stres may sometimes be aplied on a moderately
short sylable, it might be asigned, as one of the means of acent ;
but it is scarcely to be distinguished from the radical stres and from
the loud concrete, on these short quantitiesj and therefore does not
here deserve a separate consideration.

Third. When the time or quantity of one sylable excedes the
time of another, that quantity, acording to our definition, may
give an atractive or acentual distinction; and even unassisted
by loudness or abruptnes, sometimes necesarily asumes it. The
word victory, pronounced with the usual degree of radical stres
on the first sylable, and the second subsequently prolonged, as if
writen vic-toe-ry, has the impresive distinctionj which in this case
may be caled the Temporal acentj postponed to that second, if
utered with comparative feeblenes, and with all posible omision of
abruptnes. Words which consist of sylables of equal time, such
as needful, empire, farewell, sincere, and amen, easily undergo a
change of acent to either sylable, by a slight adition to its length.
The word heaven, pronounced as one sylable, heavn, has the acent
in its long quantity : divided into two sylables of equal time, as in
heav-en, the place of the acent is doubtful, or the word may be
said to have two equal acents.

These are the three means for acentual distinction ; acent being
the prominent and fixed feature that identifies a word, independ-
ently of any peculiar meaning or expresion. And as they are
suficient to give importance to sylables, without denoting at the
same time thot or pasion, which Ls the purpose of emphasisj we
may perceve the line of separation between these functions. It is
true, emphasis cannot exist without acent, for the emphatic is
always the acented sylable; and the expresive power of intona-
tion, time, and stres must give the emphatic sylable that atractive
influence which constitutes the esential agency of acent.


I have pointed out only the radical stresj the thoro conditionaly
on shorter quantitiesj and the loud concretej as the causes of acent,
derived from force ; for the median, the vanishing, and the com-
pound, are more coraonly used as the means of exprcsion: and
in the plain j)ronunciation of a single word, surely no one does
employ these last named forms of stres.

Notwithstanding all the kinds of acent here enumerated, are
represented independently of pitch, still they are necesarily aplied
on one or other of its intervals. In plain narative or description,
the radical stres, and loud concrete, and perhaps the thoro stres,
are joined Avith the tone ; and the temporal acent, when not unduly
prolonged, may take-on the direct and inverted wave of the same
interval. For this gives dignity to uterance by means of its delib-
erate movement, without conveying any peculiar expresion incom-
patible with the simple purpose of acent. This remark does not
refer to acent on single words, which has no character either of
dignity or of expression.

The use of the three kinds of acent, being in a considerable
degree governed by the time of sylables, it is desirable to know
the circumstances which render them severally aplicablej make
them easily changeablej and give them a predominant and con-
troling influence.

Sylables, with regard to their time, were aranged under three
clases. The Imutable, Mutable, and Indefinite. Radical stres is
the means for distinguishing imutable sylables. The loud concrete
may be given to the mutable ; as they have suficient length for
the display of force, without the necesity of an abrupt explosion.
Indefinite sylables admit of the atractive distinction of the temporal
acent ; and yet they are sometimes pronounced equaly short with
the imutable. Thus lo in loquacUy, and h, as an emphatic inter-
jection, exemplify the extremes of duration. Hence, tiio radical
stres may sometimes be used on an indefinite sylable, in its shortest
time ; as it is in the acent of the words, idlcncs and ordcrhj.

Some words, consisting of a long and a short sylable, alow the
acents of stres and quantity readily to exchange with each other.
In the noun perfume, the length of the last sylable yields to the
stres, with a slight extension of quantity, on tiie first : in the verb
perfume, the stres as easily gives way to the temporal acent on fume.


Of all the means by which one acented sylable of a single word
is embossed upon the ear, if I may so speak, in higher relief than
others, the most comon is that of the temporal impresion. In
English words the acented sylable is generaly the longest ; and
the exces of length alonej without radical abruptnes, or an increase
of force on the whole concrete, above the neighboring sylablesj is
suficient to answer the purposes of acentual distinction. The
majority of writers, without suficient examination, have resolved
all acents into exces of force.

Inasmuch as the radical is the principal form of stres for short
sylables ; and as the loud concrete may be aplied on all but the
imutable, it may be inquired, whether stres, or quantity has the
greater influence in pronunciation, by its controling or excluding
power. In most words, this predominant influence is readily
changeable; as in Albano, Cordova, Ontario, comemoration, and
purlieu ; the acent, of whatever kind, being in these instances as
easily practicable on one sylable as on another. But in words
with the arangement, and the habitual pronunciation, of beguile,
indeed, delay, and revenge, the temporal acent cannot be de-
prived of its supremacy, by a radical stres on the first sylable,
except by an efort in exploding the firet, and abreviating the last.
For it is sometimes necesary to reduce the quantity of one sylable,
that the radical stres may take the lead on another. The acent
of the word Emanuel, lies in the extended time of the second
sylable. Scarcely any degree of abruptnes can transfer the acent
to E, while man retains its quantity. When this is shortened,
the first sylable E, may, under a strong radical stres, be made
the leading acent ; but the word will hardly be recognized in the

In regarding the subject of acent, it ought to be borne in mind
that a diference in the vocality of the elementary sounds, may in
some cases, be mistaken for a diference in stres ; for to many an
ear, ee-\, and a-le might seem to be surpased by ou-v and a-we.
\ If there is that predominance, then vocality may sometimes be a
■ cause of acent, or may asist its influence.

The elements have diferent degrees of susceptibility, in receving
the acent. The tonics more easily and conspicuously take-on each
of its three forms. The abrupt elements are heard in the vanish-


ing stres, and asist the radical explosion on the tonics; yet are
utterly incapable of the loud concrete, and the temporal acent.
The subtonics with little or no power, under the radical stres,
fulfil all the purposes of quantity ; the atonies, tho heard in the
emphatic vocule, never, in proper and unafected speech, receve
acentual distinction.

The impresive agency of acent upon the ear, is fixed in the
pronunciation of the English language, on one or two sylables of
all words, with more than one. It is an abundant source of va-
riety in speech ; forms in part, the measure of our versification ;
and when skilfuly disposed, by the adjustment of a delicate ear,
produces with the asistance of quantity and pause, the varied
rythmic measure of prose.

Some gramarians and rhetoricians, with whom the inteligent
Mr. Sheridan is to be ranked, have set-forth a rule, that when the
acent fals on a consonant, the sylable is short ; and long when on
a vowel. At school, I did not regard this great prosodial princi-
ple : now, I perceve it has no foundation. For if acent is vari-
ously produced by radical stres, the loud concrete, and by quantity^
a distinction of literal place cannot make the suposed diference.
The abrupt stres will always be made on a tonic, (or vowel,) not-
withstanding the sylable may be opened on a preceding subtonic,
or an abrupt element. The loud concrete must be aplied on all
the elements without distinction ; and an acentual imprcsion by
quantity must consist of the united time of tonics and subtonics^
when the sylable is constructed with these diferent elements. All
this however, is only a denial of the trutli of the rule, on the
ground of our own history of acent. Let us hear how the rule
agrees with the fact of pronunciation. In the word ac-tion, the
abrupt stres is on the vowel (tonic) a ; for c (k) in this case, liav-
ing no body of sound, is but the ocluded termination of oj yet the
sylable is short; and in re-venge, the acent or the greatest im-
presion on the ear, is from the quantity of the subtonics (conso-
nants) n, and z/ij and yet the sylable is long. Language is full
of like examples ; and from the ilustration they furnish, we may
learn that the time of sylables beat's no fi^ved relation to stres, nor
to other means of acentual agency. The })revalent eror on this
subject must be ascribed to the general cause of all erors ; a want


of observation at first, and the asumption of notions, to prevent
observation ever after, by those who adopt them.

Mr. Walker has given a theory of acent ; making it dependent
on the rising and faling inflection, as indefinitely described by
him. If the preceding history of intonation is true, and if it has
been clearly comprehended, the Reader must conclude, that acent
can have no fixed relationship to a rise of the voice, or to its de-
scent; for it is efected with every esential characteristic, under
either of these oposite movements j their junction into the wavej
and under all the changeable phrases of melody.

Much has been said by authors, on the aplication of acent. But
with the sole means of the Tongue and the Ear, yet with scholastic
authority all around me, I began this history of the voice, with a
resolution to speak from Nature ; and not after men, too blind or
too proud to consult Her ever-open, and Revealing Book of Speech.


Of Emphasis,

Emphasis is defined to be a stres of voice on one or more words
of a sentence, thereby to forcibly impres the hearer with their
peculiarity of meaning. Most writers, without seeming to consider
the subject of much importance, indefinitely atribute to emphasis,
a characteristic * tone;' and Mr. Walker beleved he specified this
function under all its conditions, in his general, and vague acount
of the upward and downward inflection.

But authority aside ; let us try to do something to the purpose,
by observing and recording.

It was stated, that Acent is the fixed, but inthotive and inex-
presive distinction of sylables, by quantity and stres ; alike both
in place and character, whether the words are pronounced singly
from the columns of a vocabulary, or conectedly in the series of


Emphasis is either the thotlve or expresive, yet only the ocasional
distinction of a svlable, and thereby of the whole word, or of
several sucesive words, by one or more of the various forms and
degrees of Time, Vocalit}^, Force, Abruptnes, and Pitch.

As this notable function represents the various states of mind,
it is aplied ocasionaly on the curent of discourse ; but it may be
employed on solitary interjections, and on one or two words, form-
ing an eliptical sentence. It will apear hereafter, that emphasis
is no more than a generic term, including s|>ecifications of the use
of every mode of the voice, for enforcing thot and pasion.

The stated means of quantity and stres which constitute Acent,
being included among the enumerated causes of Emphatic distinc-
tion, it might be infered, that in these particulars, acent and em-
phasis cannot difer from each other. Quantity, radical stres, and
the loud concrete, are* the same in both cases ; but their purpose
and power in the later, invest them with the atractive influence
of thot or expresion.

For a detailed acount of the particular ocasians requiring em-
phasis when restricted to the means of stres, the Reader is refered
to libraries. They contain rhetorical, and critical works, seting-
forth this part of elocution, with comprehensivencs, perspicuity
and taste. It is our aim, to point-out and to measure the vocal
means of this important function.

Emphasis produces its efect upon the ear, by means of the vo-
cality, force, time, and abruptnes of voice, and the varied intervals
of intonation. The particular enumeration of thase means will
be given under the folowing heads.

Of the Emphasis of VocaUty.

The difercnt forms of the mode of Vocality were enumerated
in the ninth section. They are variously, thotivc or cxprcsivo,
and some of them strongly afect the cnir. IJcsidcs their use in the
general curent of speech, they may be ocasionaly aplied as em-


phasis on single words. I do not say, we are to include under this
head, those questionable cases of what may be caled, the Pho-
nology of Style, in which sound is said to be ' an echo to the sense.'
The Reader may, on this point, consult Mr. Sheridan, and other
writers^ and judge for himself, how far any individual sound of
the alphabetic elements, may be considered as vocality, and aplied
as emphasis. The folowing line from Milton's Lycidas, is said to
be an example of this kind of expresion.

Their lean and flashy songs,
Grate on their seranel pipes of wretched straw.

If the r, here repeated, be roughened by vibration of the tongue,
it may be supposed to represent vocaly the harshnes of the Shep-
herd's pipe ; but to me, the expresion, if expresion at all, would
be lost in its afectation. And generaly, when cases of this kind
do not consist in a resemblance of the sound of the word to the
sound signified, or in an influence of the thot or expresion on the
sound, they are often a false or a puerile figure of speech.*

The gutural vibration as a vocality, is expresive of scorn and
execration. The falsete may be emphatic, in the scream of teror.

Of the Emphasis of Force.

Under the Time-honored, we cannot call it a Satisfactory Sys-
tem of Elocutionj Force or Stres seems to have been regarded as
the principal, and if we except the vague pretensions of ancient

* Buzz, hiss, and a few others, may be identical in sound with what they
verbaly represent; but let not the Virgilian Scholar, impresed with theryth-
mus of that apologetic maxim, in Roman robbery, of beating down the Proud,
♦ debelare superbos,' be misled into the notion, that the mere sylabic sound of
superb^ is, in itself, an echo, as the poor metaphor calls it, to the thot of mag-
nificence, or grandeur ; for by the transposition of sylables, which cannot
vary the expresive efect of the mere sound, we might have the superb percep-
tion of a Royal Banquet, changed^ if we may make the disenchanting and
unseemly contrast^ to that of the homely table of Poverty, with nothing
besides its Herb Soup and the convenience of a pewter spoon.


Acent and of modern Inflection, as the only means of emphatic
distinction. Our system ascribes to it an influential but not an
overbearing agency among the Modes of the voice. In the first
section, Abruptnes is described as a peculiar function, and altho
aparently a form of Force, is classed as a separate Mode. The
influence however, of its character and ocasion is limited ; for it
has no varied forms, and only a diference in degree. It might
be aranged apart, and termed, the Abrupt-radical stres ; as at the
opening alone of the concrete^ its efect as a peculiar function, and
an independent Mode of speech is recognized. Still as the Radi-
cal stress bears a congenial, or at least a clasified relationship to
the use of force on other parts of the concrete, I have thot, ^vith
this prefatory remarkj the term abrupt stres, even under its claims
to a separate arangement, might here be included within the sub-
ject of Radical Emphasis.

OJ the Radical Emphasis.

When an immutable sylable l^ears the acent, in a Avord remark-
able by meaning, pasion, or antithesisj the audible distinction can
be made only in three ways ; by vocality ; a wide radical change
in the phrase of melody ; and an abrupt enforcement of the radi-
cal stres. The tvvo former will be noticed in their proi)er places.

And with perpetual inroads to alarm, *i

Tho inacesible, his fatal throne ;
"Which, if not victory, is yet revenge.

If the strongly contrasted meaning of the Avortl victory, is not
represented by gutural vibration, by aspiration, or some other
available vocality; or by a change of radical pitch u])ward or i

downward thru the skip of a third, fifth, or octave, the sylable vie
must be raised into importance by means of the abrupt radical
stres: at least no other form can be cfoctive while the sylable is
limited to its usual or conventional quantity.


Let us not pass unoticed the impresive sucesion of sylabic
quantity and pause in this closing line ; a prosaic lythmus, yet
remarkable for the skilful comparison of the rapid time, and
abruptnes of vie, with the long-drawn and gliding voice on venge ;
the rest between the contrasted clauses, gradualy preparing the
ear, for repose on the indefinite quantity of the terminative

It is true, even an imutable sylable may be caried rapidly over
any interval of the scale; still this rapid movement when not
joined with the radical change, is of no emphatic importance.

Altho the radical emphasis is here aloted to imutable sylables,
it may be laid also on those of indefinite time. But these admit-
ing of more agreeable fornxs, derived from quantity and intonation,
they less frequently require the strong explosion of the radical.

This emphasis is the sign of anger, positive afirmation, comand,
and energetic mental states of all kinds. It is also the comon
means of enforcement, whatever the time of the sylable, when
discourse requires a rapid uterance.

Of the Median Emphasis.

The prominent display of the thot or expresion of a word, by
a gradual increase and subsequent diminution of voice, can be
efected only on sylables of indefinite time. It has an importance
equal to that of the radical stres, under a form of greater smooth-
ness, dignity and grace. In the folowing sentence, the word sole
conveys the mental state of warm and serious admiration, which
this emphasis finely expreses.

Wonder not, sov'reign Mistress, if perhaps
Thou canst, who art sole wonder !

Here the median stres might posibly be executed on the simple
rise and fall of the fifth, and octave, when slowly prolonged, yet
it is more frequently, and more efectively made on the wave. In



the present case, the emphatic intonation of tlie word sole is given
on the equal wave of the second or third ; the swell being at the
junction of its two constituents.

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 36 of 59)