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 38 of 59)
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i' the earth?

If in this example, Alexander, this fashion, and earth, be taken
as emphatic, the distinction will be apropriately made by the third.
Should the intonation on these words be in the wider interval of
the fifth or octave, it would imply an eagernes of inquiry, and a
light familiarity of adres, not embraced by the meaning of the
question, nor consistent with the temper of Hamlet's moralizing

It is scarcely necesary to ilustrate the radical skip of the third,
in relation to emphasis. The word victory, in a preceding example,
may be executed on this discrete interval, if the Reader should
think the fifth, there employed, too wide ; for it will exemplify
either case, acording to the degree of energy ascribed to it.

The third, as shown in the sixteenth section, is employed on
the emphatic words of conditional, concessive, and hypothetical

The minor third, together with the rest of the minor scale, is
the esential means of plaintivenes in song ; but it is not to be used
in the system of speaking-intonation, set-forth in this Work ; and
this system regarding it as a fault in speech, we cannot give it a
place, in the history of emphasis.

Of the Emphasis of the Rising Semitone.

I OMIT here, a notice of the tone or second. The Reader must
now be too well acquainted with the character of the diatonic
melody, not to perceve, that the simple rise of a second, having
no atmctive or peculiar expresion, cannot, by pitch alone, be em-
phatic. The more impresive intervals, when not compared among


themselves, are emphatic only by their contrast with the thStive
curent of the second. It is true, a sylable Ls made emphatic by
quantity ; and that quantity in plain and dignified uterance, is
comonly efected by the doubling of the second into the form of a
wave. But the impresivenes is here the result of time, not into-

As the semitone has a peculiar expresion, it can fulfil the con-
dition of emphasis, when laid ujaon a single word in the course of
a diatonic melody. We have an instance of this, in the first line
of Hamlet's soliloquy.

O, that this too, too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew I

These words are prompted by three diferent states of mind. O,
that this solid flesh would melt, is wishful ; this too solid flesh, is
declarative that it cannot change ; and the second too, here taking-
on the degree of an adjective, is plaintive under the repeated
declaration. In these states, Hamlet implores with becoming
seriousnes, that his living frame may be dissolved ; yet by the first
adverb too, repeated more forcibly as an adjective, expreses his
conviction of its imposibility. Under the hard fate of this con-
viction, he repeats the word too, with a pathetic despondency,
which requires and beautifuly sad, receves a slowly extended and
slightly tremulous wave of the semitone.

It rarely liapens however, that this semitonic expresion is found
so insulated : for the plaintivenes which directs a single word,
generaly spreads its efect over the whole phrase or sentence ; con-
stituting the chromatic melody, and thereby destroying the solitary
importance, or proper emphasis of the semitone.

It will then be asked j how emphasis when required, can be
efected in a chromatic melody. It may be by stres in its various
forms ; and by time ; for the semitone is set on sylables of every
quantity. It may likewise be produced by intonation, in the
folowing manner.

When a sylable calls for the emphasis of a wider pitch in a
chromatic melody, it cannot be a simple concrete rise or fall thru
the second, third, fifth, or eighth ; for these movements, by over-
sliding the measure of a semitone, would destroy the plaintivenes,


which by the conditions of the case should be heard. Yet, when
a sylable of the chromatic melody is elevated by a discrete radical
change, from the level of the curent, to a third, fifth, or octave
above it; and when raised, is there utered however rapidly, in the
interval of a semitone, the plaintive or chromatic character will be
preserved ; and as the sylable, by a transfer of the radical pitch, is
advanced to a higher point of the scale, its semitone by the addi-
tional means of this acutenes in position is more forcibly impresed
on the ear, and fuly conforms to the definition of emphasis.

Of the Emphasis of the Downward Concrete.

The downward movement of the voice expreses positivenes and
surprise, and on a single long sylable, forms the feeble cadence.
We are now to consider the maner of employing this concrete, for
the purpose of emphasis, on one or more words, in a curent melody.

The wider downward concrete is a very comon form of emphatic
distinction, and exerts a powerful atraction over the ear. It can-
not however, be used in sentences of thoro interogative intonation;
nor is it, in its simple forms employed in the chromatic melody.
When necesary in this later case, for denoting surprise or posi-
tivenes, it may be introduced as a constituent of the unequal wave;
for the rise of a semitone as the first constituent, will preserve the
plaintivenes ; and a subsequent continuation downward on the
eighth, or fifth, or third, will join to this plaintivenes, the required
emphasis of the faling concrete.

When we had ocasion in its proper place, to speak of the descent
of the voice both by concrete and by radical pitchj that descent
was repre^nted, as taking place, only from the line of the curent
melody. It is now necesary to describe the particular maner of its
movement in emphasis. In the twenty-second section, a notation
is given of the folowing line.

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

In that notation, one of its emphatic sylables is marked with a


downward fifth ; tlie concrete apearing on the staff, with its radical
the whole extent of that interval above the curent melody. I
then merely pointed out the peculiarity; not Avishing, in that view
of the downward concrete, to anticipate the history of its aplica-
tion to the especial subject of the present section.

Should the word is, in the above line, be utered as a feeble
cadence, by the descent of a third from the line of the curent
melody, as if it were the close of a sentence, it would not have
the impresive efect, required by the meaning. It cannot then, be
a simple descent of the voice from the line of a curent melody,
which gives an emphatic character to this downward movement.

The full efect of the concrete, in this case, is produced by com-
encing its radical, on a line of pitch above the curent melody, and
descending to that line or below it, acording to the force of ex-
presion. The hight at which the outset or radical of the descend-
ing concrete is to be taken, depends on the degree of positivenes
or surprise, designed in the emphasis. That the expresive efect
of the downward concrete precedes from its afinity in form Avith
the cadence, I will not asert. There seems however, to be some-
thing like an ultimate afirmation implied in a very positive em-
phasise as if it meant, this afirmation is beyond doubt, then let the
subject here be closed.

It may perhaps be askedj why the downward vanish, emphat-
icaly used in the curent melody, does not produce the efect of a
cadence, and interupt the continuous thot or expresion of discourse.
Let it be recolectedj the feeblest form of the cadence consists in
the concrete descent by the third ; consequently the downward
emphasis can at most, amount but to this feeble form. Again, the
proper cadence is continued downward from the line of the curent
melody ; whereas the empliatic downward concrete, begins on a
degree of the scale above the line of the melwly, and does not
always descend below it. •>'

And further : speech has two means for convoying the mental
states of thot and jntsion. One, by a convontioiml language, which
to the ear, can describe them all. Tlie other, by the various Mcxles
and forms of the voice, that instinctively expres many of these
mental states, when engrafted on words. A s})oken cadence is
denoted, both by the vocal sign, in its three descending radicals,


with the final faling concrete ; and by language describing the
meaning of the words that terminate the sentence ; for the into-
nation of the cadence, together with the meaning and structure of
the phrase, and the pause, always marks the close. Consequently,
an emphatic downward vanish in the course of the melody, can
never be confounded with its termination.

The downward emphasis by discrete radical pitch, has the same
character as the downward concrete^ and is employed for a skip on
an imutable sylable.

The cause of a dowuAvard emphasis taking its radical pitch, so
far above the line of the curent melody, must be obvious on con-
sidering, that by a descent merely from the line of that curent,
the octave, the fifth, and perhaps the third would in some cases
be inaudiblej and always too feeble for the demands of these
impresive downward intervals.

Of the Emphasis of the Downward Octave.

After what has been said generaly of the downward emphasis,
it is scarcely necesary to state, that the octave on a long sylable
gives the strongest degree of this species of emphasis. The word
hell, in the folowing lines, requires the octave.

So frown'd the mighty combatants, that Hell
Grew darker at their frown.

This is taken from that fine picture of threatful hostility between
Satan and Death, in the second book of Paradise Lost. And who-
ever would give this part with a forcible and somewhat dramatic
efect, will find it dificult to bring out the full meaning of the poet,
except by the above directed intonation. The meaning, if we may
interpret it, is not to represent simply, without marking its degree,
an increase of darknes produced by the figurative gloom of the
brows of the combatants. Such a picture would be too tame and


trite for this dreadful edge of batle. Tlie thot becomes worthy
of the ociision, M'hen tlie frowns are said to be able to blacken the
deep darknes even of Hell. It is not to our purpose to remark
here, that a strong downward emphasis on darker, completes the
expresive meaning of the Poet.

The above forcible intonation is produced by the concrete pitch
of the downward octave : and as the downward concrete emphasis
always comences at a higher pitch than that of the curent melody,
so with the downward emphasis on imutable sylables, the change
of radical pitch is likewise from an asumed point above the curent
melody. This may be ilustrated by the folowing example from
the second book of Milton.

Far less abhor'd than these
Vex'cT Scylla, bathing in the sea that parts
Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore.

Others may please themselves, with their own vocal expresion
of this first line ; I can satisfy my ear, only by a concrete rising
octave denoting an exagerated surprise, on Jar ; then a descent by
the radical pitch of an octave, to less, for the emphatic expresion
of the degree of abhorence, on that comparative word, by return-
ing to the level of the radical of far, in the line of the curent
melody. It is not the place, but I may remark, that ab is to be
raised an octave by radical pitch ; and hor'd returned by a doAm-
ward concrete, of that same interval; thereby completing the
forcible expresion, by a faling and a rising discrete skip, on less
and ab, between a rising and a faling concrete, on far and hor'd.

A similar intonation is aproj^riate to the line that folows in the
text of the poem.

Nor uglier folow the night-hag.

Here, nor rises by a concrete octave ; iig descends discretely by
that same interval ; li, from the expresion not being so strong its
in the preceding, may either rise by the discrete third, or fifth,
and then descend by its concrete, on er to the level of nor, in the
curent melody; or ^/tr, si u red as it wore into one syluble, may
receve the direct wave of one of tliese intervals.


In these examples, nothing is said of the stres, or aspiration,
necesary for the full vocal display of their expresion. We here
regard only the downward movement.

If it may be askedj why this emphasis of do^-nward radical
pitch has not the effect of a cadencial close ; it may be answered j
it has in a degree ; but it is still an imperfect one, and not suficient
for a full termination of discourse. For the descent is from a point
asumed above the curent line, and its downward reach is to about
the level of that line ; whereas the true and final cadence is made
by a descent of two radicals below the curent melody. Add to
this, the cause asigned in a preceding pa'ge, why the emphasis of
the downward concrete is not liable to be confounded with the
cadence ; as like it, the downward discrete emphasis is readily dis-
tinguishable from the cadence, by the words, and meaning, and
pause, that denote the proper close.

Of the Emphasis of the Dovmward Fifth.

The similarity of this interval to the octave, the diference con-
sisting in degree only, renders it unecesary to do more, than quote
a phrase in which the less energetic emphasis of the downward
fifth may be employed. The word loell, in the folowing lines,
from that brief and beautiful adress to the City of London, at
the close of the third book of Cowper's Task, may receve the
emphatic downward concrete of the fifth.

Ten righteous would have saved a city once,
And thou hast many righteous. Well for thee,
That salt preserves thee ; more corupted else,
And therefore more obnoxious at this hour,
Than Sodom in her day had power to be.
For whom God heard his Abraham plead in vain.

The radical change of the downward fifth may be made on the
word subject, in the folowing lines, from the first act of Julius


Ckesar. In the second scene, Cassias after exciting Brutus to a
proud declaration of his love of honor, continuesj

I know that virtue to be in you, Brutus,
As well as I do know your outward favor.
Well, honor is the subject of my story.

If this is alowed to be the emphatic word, the meaning here
conveyed, that honor is positively, the very mater he desires to
speak of, must be expresed by a downward intonation on the word
subject. But the acented sylable of this word is too short to bear
the prolonged and slower concrete. The effect is therefore to be
acomplished with a discrete descent, by assuming the first sylable
sub, at a fifth above the current melody, and returning to the line
of that melody, on ject, with the radical skip of a fifth. Some
other form of emphasis on this word may, in a n^aner, mark a
kind of aposition in the terms, honor and subject ; yet to an ear of
discriminative taste, perhaps n'one will give so striking a picture
of the identity, as the intonation, here proposed.

Oj the Emphasis of the Dotvnward Third,

The downward Third expreses a more moderate degree of the
state of mind, conveyed by the octave, and fifth. In the folowing
reply of Hamlet, the word Queen does not seem to require a
stronger emphatic distinction, than that of a faling third.

Queen. Have you forgot me ?

Hayn. No, by the rood, not so:

You are tlie Queen, your husband's brother's wife.

Here we may again notice the striking diferenee above reforetl
to, of the downward third, when employed as a cadence, and as
cmpha.sis. In the former case, if the word Queen should deswnd
concretely, from the line of the curcnt mohxly to a third below
it, the sentence might seem to be terminatwl at that point by the


feeble cadence. In the later, when this word skips to a third
above the curent line, and then descends concretely to that line, in
the maner of emphasis, it does not even with a subsequent pause,
produce a close, but rather implies a continuation of the sentence.
The emphasis of the downward radical change of the third,
may be made by a transition from tlud to too, in the folowing

Cassius. They shouted thrice ; what was the last cry for ?
Casca. Why, for that too.

Of these last words that is to be taken a third above the line of
the curent melody ; and too, at the level of its line.

It was said formerly^ the prepared cadence is produced by the
radical descent of a third below the curent melody, on a short
sylable, or by a descending concrete third, on a long one, preceding
the triad. Still this descent alone is not terminative. For after
descending by this discrete third, the last sylable does not neces-
arily end with the down^vard tone required at a close ; and it will
be recolected, that even this downward discrete skip of a third was
caled a false cadence, from its not having the satisfactory efect
of a period ; and in the concrete preparation for the cadence, the
descent of the third can be, at most, only a feeble cadence. Con-
sider further^ the structure and meaning of the phraseology have
a share of influence, in denoting the end of a sentence. This
downward radical skip of the prepared cadence, has in part the
meaning of emphasis, by forcibly impresing on the ear the most
complete termination of discourse.*

The doA\Tiward Second, whether concrete or discrete, being a
constituent of the diatonic melody, has no emphatic power. It
gives variety to the curent, by ocasionaly taking the place of the
rising interval ; and by its concrete on the last constituent of a
faling tritone, makes the triad of the cadence.

* Let not the Eeader, on this hint, unecesarily multiply terms, and call
this the Emphatic cadence, or the Cadencial emphasis.

422 E^rPHASis OF the wave.

The downward Semitone lias peculiarity, suficient for a strong
emphatic distinction : but I am not aware of its being ever intro-
duced alone, into the diatonic melody ; and in the chromatic, it
serves only the purpose of variety, similar to that of the down-
ward second in the diatonic curent.

Of the Emphasis of the Wave.

The junction of oposite concretes gives both by its quantity
and interval emphatic distinction to sylables and words.

If a history of the voice should be writen, from the practice of
the mass of readers, and not from cultivated and rare examples of
excelence, it would be necesary to add a Melody of the Wave to
that of the diatonic and chromatic; as many, and some of the
world's great readers and actors too, aply the intonation of wider
waves, to every long and emphatic sylable. This, to say the least
of it as a fault, gives the impresive efect of the wave to a whole
sentence, and prevents its employment as the means of emphasis
on a single word.

The wave, acording to its form, expreses admiration, surprise,
inquiry, mirthful wonder, sneer and scorn ; and is emphaticaly
used on long quantities, embracing these states of mind.

The dignified diatonic melody is made by the wave of the
second ; and this is only a method of ading the gravity of its last
constituent, the downward second, to the lighter efect of the pre-
vious ascent of that interval ; and of ])roducing at the same time
the length of sylable, so escntial to solemn uttu'anoe, witlu)ut the
risk of faling into the protracted note of song. But the wave of
the second never performs the part of emjiluisis, by its intonation
alone. Waves of wider intervals, to give time and dignity to
utcrance, double the concrete of which they are respectively com-
posed, and have besides, a striking peculiarity when used for
em])hatic distinction, in the diatonic melody.

Empliatic words of scorn in dignified discourse are denoted by


the vanishing stres, or by aspiration, joined with either the simple
rise or fall of a wider concrete, or with the direct or inverted form
of its single wave. For there is a degree of levity and familiarity
in the double wave, unsuitable to dignity of style.

In considering the emphasis of the wave, it is not my intention
to ilustrate all its forms. If the Reader calls to mind our history
of this expresive sign, he may be able to do it for himself: and
the varieties of the wave are so numerous as to prevent an entire
description of them. I shall name a few of their forms.

Oj the Emphasis of the Equal-single-direct Wave
of the Octave.

The Equal-single-direct wave of the octave actively expreses
admiration and surprise ; and when hightened by aspiration, the
vanishing stress, or gutural grating, has the aditional meaning of
sneer and scorn. There is a diference in the efect of this sign on
a low and on a higher pitch. In the latter case, it has more of
the character of railery, or mirthful coment than of wonder, posi-
tivenes, or admiration.

It was saidj the wave of the octave, restricted to the lower
range of pitch, might be used in grave discourse. Under this
view, the first sylable of the folowing well-known line, from
Hamlet, might receve the emphasis of this expresive intonation.

Angels and ministers of grace defend us !

This sentence embraces astonishment, and the purpose of in-
vocation. The positivenes of the later requu'es the downward
movement; astonishment, M'hich in this case, impKes something
of inquiry or doubt, asumes the upward. But the invocation
apears to be the engrosing interest ; and for their respective ex-
presion, the sylable. An should have the intonation of the direct
wave ; for this, by its rising interval gives the doubtful astonish-


ment, and by its subsequent fall, the final and more powerful
impresion of the invocation.

In the folowing notation of this exclamatory sentence, I have
set the direct wave of the octave on the first sylable An, which by
its indefinite quantity, beautifully receves it. On grace an em-
phatic radical skip is made to a fifth above the curent melody, with
a subsequent rapid concrete of the downward fifth ; for the time
of this word will not bear the slow concrete of that interval. The
other sylables have, in the diagram, the concrete, and the radical
pitch of a tone ; and the Triad of the cadence, with a downward
concrete to each constituent : yet for a full expresion of the state
of mind they may take-on, and perhaps, do require a radical trans-
fer to the uper line, with a rapid concrete of some wider faling
intervals, as we described this form of intonation, in the seven-
teenth section; thereby to contribute their positive, but fainter
influence, to that of the two emphatic words ; the whole, with the
exception of the rise on the first sylable, being ex^iresive of the
earnestnes of the invocation.*


n —



min — is — ters of grace

de — fend us !



^ ^ ^ \ ^




T ^ T ^

T 1 •

"^ 1

* I may here refer to the gesture, apropriate to this exclamatory wave. In
suposing the Enacting of this exclamation, I see the arms each in horor tosed
up alike 'on end,' with palm and finger broadly spread-out in jirotectivc
repulsion. The practice of the Stage, after more than two hundred years'
close study of the Part, does not acord with this view of it. What intona-
tion is given to An, by great popular Actors, I have never, on closely listen-
ing, been able to trace: their belief, that such intonation cannot be taught,
has kept t/icm from hearing enuf, to tell us. This sylable together with the
whole lino is, on the apcarance of the Gliost, so sudenly shot-out, that the
report is in-and-out of hearing in a moment. Astonishment and Invocation,
on instinctive vocal interjections, are goneraly if not always, made on long
quantity: and we see how admirably the word (inr/fls is used by the Poet, to
give ' smoothnes to the torent' of c.vclamatiun on its emphatic sylable. But
the Actor's violence and hury soem to be directed by anger and impatience,
enforced in the vehement trick of striking oil" Itis bonot. If the bonct is to
drop by the agitation of horor, let the true personating of horor throw it off,


When the single-equal wave of the octave is inverted, the em-
phasis has the character of interogation, from the ascent of the
last constituent.

Oj the Emphasis of the Equal-single-direct Wave of the Fifth.

This form of the wave caries a less degree of afirmation, and
surprise, than that of the octave; as in the folowing example,
from the contest between Satan and Death.

And breath 'st defiance here and scorn,
"Where I reign king ? and to enrage the more,

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 38 of 59)