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 7 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 7 of 59)
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a mewing sound, if I may so call it, is heard. This mewing is
caused by the gradual change from gravity to acutenes, thru the
gradual shortening of the string : and as it rises by a sucesion of
uninterupted momentary changes, each continuous or concreted,
as it were, in its increments of time and of motion, I shall call it
Concrete sound. This movement of pitch, on the violin, is termed
a Slide. ^

The Reader may himself exemplify this concrete sound, by
utering the single sylable aye, as if he were asking a question
with the expresion of earnest surprise, yet rather deliberately ;
begining at the lowest, and ending at the highest limit of his
voice. The gradual rising-movement in this case is continuous
or concrete : yet as the voice, and any other tunable sound may
be continued in one uninterupted movement upon the same line
of pitch, without rising or falingj it is to be remarked that the
term Concrete is in this esay aplied only to an uninterupted
movement in a rising, and in afaling direction.

Now, the sounds of what is called the Scale, in Music, do not
rise in a conected or concrete movement. They are made, by
drawing the bow, only while the finger is held stationary at cer-
tain sucesive places on the string : showing an interuption of the
continuous u])ward slide. These places are seven in number ;
their distances from each other being determined under a natural
law, and rcnderolies
to those of the downward course, under a reverse movement of the
gra(hial slide, and of the interupted sound, on the strinj^.

The variations of pitch on most musical instruments are discrete.
The violin and its species derive much of their expresive power,
from beino; susceptible of the concrete movement; and it is one of
the great sources, as will be shown hereafter, of Expresion m the
human voice.

The several places at which we supose the sounds to be made in
the discrete progresion, are numericaly designated in the diagram,
and are caled the Places, Points, or Degrees of the scale. Any
two degrees are, by relative position, called Proximate, when they
are next to each other ; and Remote, when they include more than
proximate degrees between them.

The distance between any two points in the scale, either proxi-
mate or remote, is caled an Interval. A musical interval was by
the Greeks, defined to be a ' quantitj^ of a certain kind, terminated
by a graver and an acuter sound.' But for particular aplication
to speech, it is necesar}' to regard that quantity as either continu-
ous sound, or imaginary space; and to consider the efect of the
transit of the voice from one degree of the scale to another, as
constituting an interv'al, whether the voice is concretely heard, or
discretely omited between them. The intervals in their proximate:
order, are mea.sured as follows :*

The interval, or the quantity of concrete voice, either heard, or
omited, between the first and the second places,, numbered in the
diagram, is called a Tone.'f

atoly with each other: whereas Number is the discrete quantity ; the distinct.,
sucesion of its constituent units being altogether diferent from the above
described continuity.

The most familiar ilustration of these terms, aplied to the two kinds of
quantity in musical sound, is furnished by the form of a lader, the side rails
representing the concrete, and thfl rrvunds the discrete.

* The well-informed Reader shjould. regard this general view of the scale,
and the manor of its ilustration, %vitb a th(!>lfulnes of my design. I omit the
theoretic distinction of greater and leser tone, of diatonic and chromatic semi-
tone, and of the nuijor and minor scale, together with other particulars,, both
melodinl and harmoniC;} with an intention to notice only what is- preparatory
to the description of speech.

f The Header must bear in mind, that the word tune in tliis ELjay, desig-


That between the second and third is likewise a tone.

That between the third and fourth, which apears in the diagram
as lialf the space of a tone, is called a Semitone.

The interval between the fourth and fifth, fifth and sixth, sixth
and seventh, is each a tone ; and lastly, that between the seventh,
and the eighth or first of the next series, a semitone.

The intervals between the degrees of the scale, either proximate
or remote, are designated numericaly ; the extreme degrees being in-
clusively counted. From the second to the third, or from the sixth
to the seventh, is the interval of a second or tone ; from the second
to the sixth, or from the fourth to the eighth, is the interval of a
fifth. And so of the rest; the numerical name of any interval being
the same, when taken in an upward, or in a downward direction.

The several discrete sounds of the scale are here named acording
to their ordinal number ; yet the first, relatively to its rising series,
is generaly called the Key-note. Consequently, in two or more
series of scales, the eighth sound, or Octave as it is called, of the
preceding is always the key-note of the suceding scale ; as in the
vertical diagram, the sound at the eighth place is the octave of
the first series, and the key-note of the second.

The sucesion of the seven sounds of any one series, to which the
octave is usualy aded, is called the Natural or Diatonic Scale. It
consists of five tones and two semitones ; the latter being the in-
tervals between its third and fourth, and its seventh and eighth
degrees. The scale then contains these several kinds of intervals j
a semitone ; a second, or whole tone ; a third ; fourth ; fifth ;
sixth ; seventh ; and octave.

nates only a certain interval of pitch; tho comon language aplics it alike to
pitch, vocality, force and time; as in the phrases 'high and low tones of the
voice,' ' musical, rustic and silver tones;' ' an emphatic or loud tone ;' and a
'deliberate, quick and drav/ling tone.' Even music, with all its scientific
'precision, is not free from slight confusion on this point. For while it em-
ploys the word tone, for that interval to which we restrict its use, it also desig-
nates vocality, in the terms, ' tone of the flute,' and of other instruments, and
the ' pure tone' of the vocalist. The French word timbre, corcsponding to
вАҐ our vocality, and sometimes aplied to the voice, would, in comon English
ipronunciation, soon get into downright ship timber. Let us not be ' frightened
at the sound ourselves have made,' but call this mode of the voice, by the
plain English term vocality ; tho timid rccolccting, it comes from a word used
by Cicero and Quinctillian.


By the diagi-ani, the interval between the second and fourth
degrees is numeriealy a third, yet contains but one tone and a
semitone ; whereas, from the conservation of the scale, that be-
tween the first and third degrees, still numeriealy the interval of
a tiiird, contains two whole tones. From this difcrence in con-
stituency, and extent, the former is caled a Elinor Third, and the
later a Major Third. But the minor third never being used in
corect S})eech, the term Third will in this Work, except where
the minor is specified, always refer to the major interval.

Plaving described the construction of the Musical Scale, I here
advise the Reader, who may not be a musician, and who may be
ignorant of the efect of the sounds of that scalej to ask, from some
qualified master, an audible example of its upward and downward
progresion, and of its several intervals. This the teacher will
give, under that practical exercise on the scale, caled in the lan-
guage of vocal science, Solfaing. Let the Reader studiously imi-
tate this exemplification, and comit it to memory. If destitute of
what is caled a musical ear, let him not think himself unable to
discriminate those intervals, which he has now learned to be a part
of music. In comunities where the cultivation of this art is gen-
eral, these things are all learned, by thousands who, Avith their
natural ear, would never have caut the simplest phrase of a popular
song. And surely there is no one, into whose hands this book will
ever fall, who can posibly avoid perceving the several diferences
of meaning, or expresion, in the speaking voicej when he is
adressed in the language of narative, surprise, complaint, authority,
or interogation. Now these various expresive efects are perceptible
to him, and acurately so, only as concrete or discrete movements
of the voice thru certain apropriate intervals of the scale. His
ear therefore does realy recognize these movementsj these intervals
of the speaking scale. I only give to his mental perception and
his tongue, their musical method and names.

When an instructor canot be met with, the use of a well-tuned
Piano-Forte may asist those who have no acquaintance with the
scale. On the key-board of this instrument there is a front row
of white keys, as they are called, and a rear row of black ones.
A representation of their forms ^md pasitions, is given in the fol-
owing diagram ; where a portion of the Greai Scale; or its its



whole extent is caled, the Compas of the instniraentj is shown ;
the white keys being numbered above, in continuation as far as
twenty-one ; and below, in a repeated series of seven.

1 2 r! 4 5 fi 7 K 9 10 11*1-2 V^ 14 l.". Ifi 17 IS 19 20 21

llllllllllllllll II

12 3 4 5 6 7.1 2 3 4 5 6 7.1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Any one of the series of seven white keys, of which there are
three in the diagram^ Avhen struck sucesively ascending from left
to right, gives the seven discrete rising sounds of the diatonic scale.
The black keys are set between the white ones, to divide the whole
tones into semitones. Hence, the black keys are wanting at the
semitonic intervals of the scale, where their purpose canot apply.
This omision visibly separates the black keys alternately into pairs
and triplets.

With the foregoing explanation, the Reader can have no dificulty
in finding a diatonic series on the white keys of a Piano-Forte ; the
key-note or begining of the series always being next below the pair
of black keys. Let him then, on that series which suits the pitch
of his speaking voice, uter one of the vowels or any of its sylabic
* combinations, in unison with the instrumental sounds, both in their
proximate sucesion of a tone, and in the wider transitions between
remote degrees of the scale j till the whole is familiar to his ear,
and at the call of memory. It is true, the Piano-Forte can show
him only the discrete movements of pitch. When these are coni-
zable, and under comand, the concrete may readily be measural by

The level, or protracted sound at any of the places of the dis-
crete scale, is called a Note. This term notey is to be carefuly dis-
tinguished from that of Tone, which as before stated, signifies not
a level line of sound, but a rising or faling interval of yiitch ; and
in this csay, is aplied, either to the concrete transit of the voice
between any two adjoining degrees, except those bounding a semi-


tone, or to the amount of space between such degrees, when the
transit is discrete.

As the term tone is used for the interval of a second, under tlie
two conditions of concrete and discrete j)itch, so are the terms of
other intervals included between remote degrees ; for the voice may
move concretely thru these intervals, or notes may be made at
their bounding degrees, with the omision of the concrete. Let
us call the former of tliese conditions. Concrete Intervals, and the
latter, Disei'de Intervals: one being, figuratively, a rising or faling
stream of voice, the other a voiceles space.

The Jirst, third, and fifth notes- of the diatonic scale, to which the
octave, as a concording repetition of the first is usualy aded, difer
from the other notes in being more agreeable to the ear when heard
in combination, and in imediate sucesion. The degrees in this
order, are also more readily 'hit' by an inexperienced voice, in an
endeavor to execute the several discrete intervals of the scale : and
that simple instrument the Jews-harp, and some species of the
Horn more readily yield these sucesive notes, under the faltering
atempts of a learner. When therefore the pupil takes his leson
on the scale, let him familiarize his ear to the sucesion of its first,
third, fifth and octave notes ; omiting the intermediate degrees.
Frequent reference will be made hereafter, to his perceptions on
this point.

I give a representation of the maner in which musicians set
their symbols for the diatonic sounds, on that linear Table caled
the Staff. The staff consists of five horizontal and paralel lines,
having four spaces between them. Each space and line represents
a degree of the scale ; so that from one space or line to the next
line or space, is a second ; and these degrees are caled conjoint or
proximate. When the discrete movement is over a wider interval

than a second, it is caled a SJcip ; and the degrees are said to be
Remote. The sucesion of the scale is here marked by disks, rising


from the lowest line to the highest space of the staff; the intervals
of the semitones being designated by a brace.

I have thus described the continuous or Concrete movement of
sound ; and its discrete or interupted progresion on the diatonic

As there are but two semitones in the scale, it is necesary, for
the accomodation of instruments with fixed keys, to subdivide the
whole tones. The manner of the subdivision is here described.*

In any series of seven notes, as the first marked in the pre-
ceding vertical diagram of the scale, and in that of the white
keys of the key-board, let us asume for this subdivision of whole
tones, the Fifth, as the first or key-note of a new order. This
with its octave, will extend to the place numbered twelve. Six
of its places in their rising order of notes, from five to ten, will
have right positions ; and so far, the intervals of tone and semi-
tone will exhibit the proper sucesions of the diatonic scale. But
the interval between the tenth and eleventh is a semitone, and
that between the eleventh and twelfth a tone ; whereas, by the
rule for constructing the scale, the order should be revei'sed. For
the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth notes marked in the diagrams,
are respectively the sixth, seventh, and eighth of the new order,
asumed from the fifth. When therefore the tone, or interval
from eleven to twelve, is subdivided into two semitones, as shown
by a cross in the vertical diagram, and by a black key below the
star in that of the key-boardj and the transit is then made from
the tenth place, to this point of division^ two semitones, making
one whole tone, are pased over ; the interval from this point of
division to the twelfth is a semitone, and the constituent intervals
of the diatonic scale in this new order, are obtained.

To continue a subdivision of the whole tones of the scale, by

* The Reader having learned above, the form, and places of the semitone,
it is not esential that he should strictly atend to the detailed explanation, in
the two folowing paragraphs ; for most of it is not aplicablo to speech. I say
this, only in reference to his finding it dificult. In leting him know, there is
a sucesion of degrees, called the Semitonic Scale, I describe the maner of its
construction ; for with a knowledge of this, his views of the relations between
Music and Speech will be more extended and precise. Let him then learn it,
if not too troublesomoj being mindful to read the last two sentences of the
second paragraph.


risiuf/ a fifth on the previous order, wocl soon carr}' us beyond tlie
limit of our diagrams. We must observe, that the fifth above a
key-note, liolds the same relative position in a scale, as the fourth
below it. If then, for the key-note of a third order, we take the
fifth above the key-note of the second order, or the fourth below it,
they will be respectively the ninth and the second of the diagrams ;
and these are considered the same, because they each have the
like position of second in the two orders, of the key-board. A
subdivision of the whole tone, between the fifteenth and sixteenth,
on the key-board, if the fifth above is taken, or between the
eighth and ninth if the fourth belowj will, with the subdivision
in the preceding order, give the constituent diatonic intervals of
this third order. And progresively, by taking the fifth above the
key-note of the previous order, or the fourth below itj and using
the previous subdivisions, every place of the scale may become the
first of an order ; and every whole tone may thereby be divided,
as shown by the black keys in the diagram of the key-board.
This division produces a series of semitones. When therefore the
progresion is made by them, the order of degrees is called the
Semitonic, or more comonly the Chromatic Scale.

It is necesary for the future history of speech, that the sucesion
of discrete sounds should be exhibited under still more reduced
divisions. These consist in a discrete transition over the scale, by
intervals much smaler than a semitone; each point being as it
were, rapidly touched by a momentary and abrupt emision of
voice. This description may be ilustrated by the maner of that
noise in the throat caled gurgling, and by the neighing of a horee.
The analogy here regards princii)ally the momentary duration,
frequency, and abruptnes of sound ; for the gurgling is generaly
made by a quick iteration on one unvarj'ing or level line of pitch.
In the scale now under consideration, each sucesive pulse of sound
is taken at a Minute Discrete-interval above the last, till the series
reaches the octave. We canot tell the precise extent of this minute
interval, nor the number of pulses in given portions of the scale ;
since this function is executed in a maner, and with a ra})idity that
eludes discrimination. Nor is this point material now. My pur-
pose requires it to be known, that the voice may rise and fall, with
short and abrupt iterations, thru the several intervals of pitch, by


discrete steps, less than a semitone. Whether the discrete space
is that fractional part of a tone caled a comma, or some division or
multiple of it, we leave to be determined by other means than that
of the ear alone. Let us then call this species of movement, the
Tremulous Scale.

We have described four kinds of progresion in pitch ; and
in speaking of the concrete, its slide was not caled a scale, since
its unbroken line has no analogy with the interupted steps of a
discrete sucesion ; yet with a full comprehension of its construc-
tion, there can be no objection to its being so called.

The human voice has then Four scales of pitch. The Concrete;
in which, from the outset to the termination of the voice, either in
rismg or faling, there is no apreciable interval, or interuption of

The Diatonic; wherein the discrete transitions are principaly
by whole tones.

The Chromatic ; consisting of a discrete sucesion of semitones :

The Tremulous ; which with its momentary impulses, separated
from each other by very minute intervalsj has never, as far as I
am aware, been employed on musical instruments, in an upward
and a downward progresion ; the tremolo being a tremor on a
straight line of pitch ; and the Trill or Shake being as will be
shown hereafter, a totaly distinct function.

The extent of the speaking voice on any of these four scales,
within the limits of distinct articulation, is caled the Compas of

* There is a musical scale, described by the Greeks, but used only at an
early period, caled the Enharmonic ; which however, has no relation to the
natural system of speech ; yet from the term ' Enharmonic voice,' employed
without explanation by Dionysius Thrax, a Greek grammarian, who lived
shortly before the Christian craj it seems to have been infored, that the spoken
intonation of the Ancients was somehow formed on this scale : and tho Mr.
Steele suffered his observation to be so far overruled* by the vague autliority of
this inference, as to give the diagram of his j)roposed scale with what he calls
an enharmonic di vision j perhaps a short acount of tliis division, may convince

* I have made this word an cxcoptlon to the exclusion of donblo consonants, for tlie division is
here sylubic and properly pronounced over-ruled, not over-uled : and it is tho same witli words of
like construction.


For the purpose of exjjlanation, the scales have been represented
separately ; yet in the practice of the voice they are variously

the Render, as we procede, that it could not have been employed in the proper
intonation of what we shall consider Natural speech.

The Greek musical scale consisted of only three intervals, embraced between
four degrees, as marked by the strings of their instruments, and was therefore
cajed the Tetrachord. The moderns have made their scale an Octachord, or
Octave, by joining two sucesive Greek scales, with a tone between them: for
in our octave, from C to F, and again from G to C, each of the two sets of
four degrees, has the like order of their constituent tones and semitones ; show-
ing that the tetrachord scale is just half of ours. Our music employs but
one proper scale, the diatonic ; for the chromatic is not an independent one,
on which a melody can be made with its semitones alone; but is formed, for
ocasional use, by dividing the whole tonesj that the semitones may be em-
ployed in other places, than the two which are proper to them, in the natural
diatonic sucesion. Neither in music nor in song, do we technicaly recognize
the Concrete and the Tremulous Scales : and it was the same with the Greeks.

The Greek writers describe six diferent scales ; three chromatic ; two dia-

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 7 of 59)