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 8 of 59)
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tonic ; and one enharmonic, formed respectively, by certain subdivisions of
the scale into intervals of different extent. For ilustration however, we will
describe only, what they caled the Intense diatonic, and the Enharmonic.
Supose the Tetrachord to be divided into sixty parts ; and let C, D, E and F
be the places, or degrees, including its three intervals ; 24 to represent the
tone ; 12 the semitone ; and 6 the quarter-tone, caled diesis, or the enharmonic
interval. The Intense-diatonic Tetrachord, which is, when doubled, and
united by a tone, the same we now emplqyj was aranged as folows :

Tone. D Tone. E Semitone.

24 24 12

The Enharmonic tetrachord :

C Ditone. D Diesis. E Diesis. F

48 6 6

Now as 48, the double of 24, make two tones ; and six, the fourth or quarter
of 24, the diesis ; the enharmonic arangement is that of a ditone or major
third and two sucesive quarter-tones.

The Greeks themselves state, that the musical use of this scale was very
dificult ; and in later times was altogether laid aside: neither of which, as
cause or consequence, could have ocured if there had been a natural character
in it; for certainly, a continued tune on a sucesion of its intervals would,
to a modern and natural ear, until fashion should recomend it, be altogether
inefective, or very abominable. Consistently with this view, we shall learn
hereafter, that speech makes no specificaly distinct nor apreciable use of the
quarter-tone: showing how the history of the human voice has in tliis as in
so many other ways, been falsified and confused.

The other four scales seem to have had no more of a natural condition, than


united ; speech making use of them all. The concrete is always
found ; and we shall hereafter learn in what maner the diatonic,
chromatic, and tremulous scales are conected with it.

The term Melody is, in music, aplied to a regulated vocal or to
an instrumental use of the diatonic and chromatic scales. The full
meaning of the term embraces the further relations of time, rj'th-
mus, and pause. I here speak of pitch alone. That efect in music
called melody, is produced by the use of the seven notes of the
scale, in any agreeable order of their possible permutations, either
in a Proximate or Skiping progresion. We shall learn hereafter,
that the Melody of Speech is founded on a like principle of varied
intervals ; yet with peculiarities, arising from a systematic use of
its concrete, discrete, and tremulous movements, and from its not
being afected by the use of what in music is called. Key.

The term Key is aplied to each of the several orders of the
diatonic scale, on musical instruments. And as it apears by the
diagram of the key-board, that the Semitonic divisions of the
whole tones of the scale make twelve placesj from each" of which
a diatonic sucesion may be arangedj so the scale of the piano-forte

the Enharmonic; and this leads to the conclusion, that like ourselves, the
Greeks used the diatonic as the only scale for agreeable melody, and for any
harmony they may have known and practiced.

But why should all the Greek writers have named their other scales, if they
never used them? This we cannot answer: tho we might class the question
with the whole design of their metaphysics, which was to dream, write, and
wrangle about things, never to be used or even comprehended. But laying
aside, for a moment, our prescribed rules for observing, reflecting, and writing,
we will ofer a pasing conjecture and no more, upon it.

Since the ear for music, like the eye for Euclid's circle and square, and tl>o
tongue for wormwood and honey, is the same now, that it was among the
Greeksj we can acount for their being satisfied with their unnatural scales, by
suposingj First ; that a few particular phrases of ritual chants, or of choral
responses^ formed out of the peculiar sucesion of the notes of these scales, on
some early and imperfect instrument^ were so closely conected with the Temple
Service, the Sacrifice, or the Procesion, or with a Popular Obstinacy in some
rude vocal habit, as to reconcile the ear to any odity and disonance. Or,
second ; by suposing, the unnatural melodies or sucesions on these scales, to
be traditions of the canting shouts of barbarian Festivals, originally excited
by some wild religious working on the voicej after its maner of working on
the eye, in making to itself, without a revolting of truth or taste, tho graven
image of its Gods, in every outrageous contortion of the human form. But
these conjectures are apart from the design of this Work.


admits of twelve clifercnt keys ; and these being sulxlividod into
Flat and Sharp Keys, make twenty-four in all ; but these have no
regard to sj^eech. The first note of the sucesion is caled a-s we said
formerly, the key-note. The relationship of this to the other notes
of the scale is such, that a melody will apear unfinished, if its last
sound be not the key-note of the scale, or the octave to itj which
is its nearest concord.

It is a condition in music, that a melody formed of the varied
permutations of the notes of any one key, shall not employ the
constituent notes of another. In the vertical diagram, there is the
first order, with its key-note at number one ; and a second with its
key-note at five. To form this second order we divided the tone
between the eleventh and twelfth pointsj to obtain the second
semitone of the diatonic scale; and it apears that all the notes are
comon to the tioo orders, except the seventh of the second, marked
eleven in the diagram. A melody or tune begun on the first order,
canot employ that eleventh, and be agreable to the ear, except with
a design to leave the first order, and afterwards to carry on the
tune altogether by the order of the second. This transition from
one order to another is called Modulation, or Changing the key.
It is employed in vocal and instrumental music, but is not apli-
cable to speech.

The term Intonation signifies the act of performing the move-
ments of pitch on any interval of the several scales, whether in
speech, in song, or in instrumental use. It therefore regards, only
the changes of sound between acutenes and gravity. Intonation
is said to be corect or true, when the discrete steps, or concrete
slides over the intended interval are made with exactnes. True
intonation in speech means further^ the just use of its intervals,
for denoting the states of mind in thot and pasion. Deviation
from this precision is called, singing, or playing, and it may be
hereafter. Speaking out of tune.*

* Instead of the term Intonation, which embraces in music, the doctrine of
intervals, and their exact execution j the words Inflection and Modulation have
been used by writers, to exprcs only a general and obscure perception of some
variation of pitch, in the speaking voice. So entirely have thoy seemed to
overlook the analogy between the scale of music, and of speech, that the Eng-
lish term Intonation, which has been used in the former art, at least a cen-
tury, to denote the precise recognition of intervalsj is not, with this meaning


The term Chdence in music, means, a consumation of the desire
for a full close in the melody, by the resting of its last sound in
the key-note. It will be shown hereafter, that the cadence or
close of speech is efected in a diferent maner.

I have here tried to prepare the Reader for all that relates to
the science and nomenclature of music, in the folowing description
of speech. When a full knowledge of the modes, forms, and uses
of the voice will have become familiar, by general instruction and
practice, the Art of Speaking will seem to ofer less dificulty, by
having an admited system and nomenclature of its own. Now,
we are obliged to study another art, to make an Art of it.

In whatever way a pupil may learn or be taught to recognize
and to execute the intervals of the scale, let me here again call
his atention to the necesity of making himself familiar with a per-
ception of the concrete and discrete movementj when formed not
only on simple vowel sounds, but on sylables, the comon ground
of intonation in speech. Let the pupil then, on any sylable capa-
ble of prolongation, rise concretely, from the first degree of the
scale, to the octave ; and from this, imediately return concretely to
the first degree, while the efect of the extent of the rising octave
remains upon the ear. In like maner, let him ascend and de-
scend thru the concrete fifth, third, second, and semitone.

For acquiring familiarity with the discrete intervals of speech,
the intonation should be performed by means of two sylables.
Taking the word gaily, let the pupil begin at the first degree of
the scale, with gai, and by a skip, strike the octave with ly: then,
in imediate return, while memory of the interval serves him, take
gai at the octave, and descend to the first, on ly. In a similar
maner, let the voice be exercised on the discrete fifth, third, second,
and semitone.

Facility in executing the concrete semitonic movement of speech,

to be found, as fai* as I can learn, in any of the numberless books on elocu-
tion, published within this period. Mr. Sheridan incidentaly employs this
term ; but with no reference to intervals and their expresion, and only in the
indefinite meaning of the phrasoj ' tones of the voice.' Baily restriots intona-
tion soley to music. Dr. Johnson limits it to the 'act of thundering.' In
ajilicution to speech, it is at hi%i Jinding itstvay into Dictionaries. I need not
say, how often, the description of speech, foundi^d on the identity of its inter-
vals with those of music, will hereafter require the use of this term.


Ls to be atained hy plaintively repeating the interjection ah, both
ascending and descending, between the seventh and eighth degrees
of the diatonic scale.

Tiie pupil will acquire a ready coniand over the tremulous into-
nation, by practicing the characterLstic tremor of this scale, on the
semitone with a plaintive expression, and with laughter, or exulta-
tion, on the other intervals.

By frequent practice of these several intonations on single syl-
ables, the voice will be prepared for the precise use of intervals,
in the sylabic sucesions of speech.

The preceding explanations have been extended rather beyond
what is absolutely neccsary, for comprehending the proper science
of Analytic Elocution, now to be first set-forth. The function of
Key and of Modulation in music, has been described with some
care, altho speech is not constructed upon the principles of either.
It may not however, be uninteresting to some inquirers, to know
wherein the diferenccs of the cases consist.

The term Elocution is aplied thruout this Work to signify the
vocal Representation of thot and pasion ; and properly includes
ever}'^ form of corect Reading, and of Public, and Colo(|uial
Speech. And yet we shall, by license, often aply the terms
Reading and Speaking, each as that of Elocution, to designate
the whole of the Art. The Avords Recitation, Delivery, and
Declamation, as well as those designating public Places, and Pro-
fesions, are not here technicaly, if at all, employed in reference to
vocal character. Styles of elocution may difer, within the rule
for justly denoting pasion and th5t ; and this rule should direct
alike the style of the Advocate, the Witnes, and the Judge ; of the
Pulpit, the Stage and the Senate ; of the Stump-orator ; and of
the varial voices of conversation. Had there been a more abun-
dant and precise knowledge, of hoiv language shud be sj)oken,
there wud have l)een much less said of the Person and the Place.

If I should employ the term Reading-aloud, it Mill not be in
contradistinction to ocular perusal. To read, as a term of Elocu-
tion, always means to read-aloud. I may however use the term
Silent Reading, to signify, not ocular pcrusalj but the future
mental reading of a notation on the staff of speech ; in like man-
ner as the notes of music are silently read on the staff of song.


by the vocalist, and composer ; for I shall hereafter show, that a
knowledge of the constituents and principles of scientific speech,
is as atainablej and an aplication of them, as practicable and easyj
as in the case of scientific music. I adopt from the old Elocu-
tionist, the term ' Reading- well,' and preserve it, as a memorial of
the style even of his school, having generaly been so bad, that it
became necesary to distinguish an ocasional individual from the
herd, by his acomplishment in Reading- well.

I feel how perplexing it is, I was about to say, it is imposible
by description alone, to render the separate parts of a science, so
well divided in method yet so closely related in detail, as that of
music, clearly inteligible. If what has been said, will enable the
Reader to perceve the system and particulars of the Four Scales,
and to execute them, he will not have much difficulty in pursuing
our further history of a new and beautiful Physical Science of
the Human Voice.


Of the Radical and Vanishing movement of the voice; and its
dif event forms in Speech, Song, and Recitative.

We have been wiling to beleve, on faith alone, that Nature is
wise in the ordination of speech. Let us now show by our works
of analysis, in what maner, and with what a perfection of economy,
that canot surpas itself, she manages the simple constituents of the
voice, in the production of their unbounded combinations.*

* As I profes, in this Work, to draw the history of the human voice, alto-
gether from observation by the ear, and experiment with the tongue, it will be
convenient, and even necesaryj from the constant reference to the combined
agencies that make up the system of speech j to have some brief term to desig-
nate what we supose to be the directive principle, or general agent over these
subordinate and perceptible agencies. I have therefore in the text, adopted an
abstract sign for ail these agencies, and their cfectsj in the word Nature ; a
word often taken in eror, and in vain, but not yet obsolete. This Term, this
Naturej I use every where, and always with the same meaning wlien person-
ified, as the representative of an al-.suflcient, and ever-present sj-stcm of causes ;
whicli in the broad wisdom of its ordination, and universal cont.i3tency of its



When tlie Ictcr a, as heard in the ^vor(l flay, is pronounced
simply as an alphabetic element, without intensity or emotion,
and as if it were a continuation, not a close of uterance, two dip-
thonji^al sounds are heard continuously sucesive. The first has the
nominal sound of this leter, and isues with a certain degree of ful-
nes. The last is the element e, as heard in eve, gradualy diminish-
ing to an atenuated close. During the pronunciation, the voice
rises continuously by the concrete movement of a tone or second ;
the begining of a, and the termination of e, being severaly the
inferior and superior extremes of that tone. The character of this
concrete rise is visibly represented in the first of the following
diagrams. A curvature of lines seeming to aford a more graceful
analogy to the ])eculiar efect of the vocal concrete, it Avill thru this
Work apear as in the second.

If the above description of the concrete shud not, from its deli-
cate structure, and momentary duration, be at once recognized, I
here give a further explanation of it.

That the sound denoted by the letter a, utered concretely, has
the dipthongal character, will be obvious on deliberately drawing
out the single element, as a question of great surprise. For in this
case, its comencement is what I have caled the nominal aj and its
termination in e, at a high pitch, is no less distinguishable.

By the same use of earnest intcrogation, the fulnes, or greater
volume of sound upon a, and the diminishing close in e, will l)C
obvious to an atentive ear. Nor is it improbablcj the feeblenes
of this last constituent of a, in ordinary pronunciation, is at least
one cause, why the dipthongal structure of this element has never,
far as I know, been perceved, or described.

efectfi, is the bright and unchanging example of truth, and right, and good-
nes, and beauty; and worthy of unceasing study and imitationj for begining,
without dehisive hopes, the intelcctual, tlic political, the moral, and esthetic
refinement of man.


That a, utered simply as the head of the alphabet, without re-
markable expresion, and as a continuation, not a close of speechj
does ascend by the concrete interval of a tone, will be manifest
to the Reader, in his ability to intonate the diatonic scale. For
let him ascend disci-etely, on the alternate use of a and e, prolong-
ing each as a note, and making a slight pause between them. This
will render him familiar with the relationship of the two elements,
when heard on the extremes of a tone : as ilusti'ated in the follow-
ing diagram ; where from line to line is one degree, or a tone of


the scale ; where the oval figures with their attenuated rising ter-
minations, represent respectively the level or protracted note, with
its final, faint, and rapid concrete isue in e ; and where the diferent
sizes of the subscribed leters may show the proportional duration
and volume of voice, in the diferent parts of each impulse of

Then let him ascend the scale, by a kind of union of the con-
crete and discrete progresions, or begining with a, slightly pro-
longed, and proceding to e, in the second place, without breaking
the continuity of sound ; and thence after slightly prolonging e,
pasing concretely to a, in the third place, as ilustrated in the fol-
lowing diagram ; where full notes are conected by slender concretes.
This practice will make him familiar with the efect of a concrete
rise thru a tone, when the uper extreme is remarkable, by the
stres and prolongation it receves at the second place of the scale.

A E-


Suposing the concrete interval of a tone to be distingulsliable,
when utered with a full voliime of sound on the two extremes a
and e, or M'itli what may be caled a double stres or stres on the
two extremes of the concrete^ it may be proved in the folowing
maner, that the simple uterancc of a in day, pases . thru the same
interval. Let the a and e be repeatedly pronounced with this
double stres, united by the weaker concrete, till the efect of tlie
interval Ls for the moment impresed upon the ear. Then let the
stres on e be gradualy diminished in the repetition ; as ilustrated
by the scries of symbols in the folowing diagram. The audible

A E A — e A — e A-e A-e A.e A^

efect of the last of the series, even with a total cesation of the uper
stres, will in intonation, so resemble, yet faintly, the double stres
on the first, that the cases will be admited as identical. The tone
being then plainly conizable as the first interval of the scale, when
both extremes receve the stresj so in returning to the simple pro-
nunciation of a, by gradualy diminishing the stres at its uper ex-
tremity, the perception of this interval will be kept up during the
progress of the change. In the above experiment we have, to suit
the order of our history, begun with the limited interval of a tone ;
but for proof of the concrete function, it will be more obvious when
made on the expresive interval of the fifth or octave.

If there shud be a doubt, as to the extent of the concrete inter-
val, let stres be aplied at its sumit. When the interval is a tone,
the two stresed sounds will form the first two notes of the diatonic
scale ; for with a little experience, the course of this scale can always
be recognized, in the execution of its first and second djegrees.

The simple dipthongal sound of a, Mithout the sumit-stres, djoes.
then, as we have ilustrated it, pass thru the concrete interval of a
tone or second ; the movement being divided between the sounds
of a and c, the first gliding into the ktst. But as the distinction
here refers to the extent of the interval traversed, to its upward


direction, and to its concrete progresj it is necesary to uter the
literal element, without the least expresion ; for if it be with
plaintivenes, surprise, or interogation j or as a positive comand, the
concrete will be some other interval than the tone ; this tone or
second, being the maner of utering simple thot, exclusively of the
excitement pasion.

The peculiar structure of the concrete movement led to the di-
vision of it by terms, into two parts ; and the use of these terms,
for explanatory purposes in the folowing history, will show their

I have caled the first part of the concrete, or that of a, in the
above instance, the Radical movement ; since, with a full begining
or opening, the subsequent and diminishing portion of the concrete
procedes from it as from a base or root.

I have called the last part, or that of e, in the example, the
Vanishing movement, from its becoming gradualy weaker as it
rises, and finaly dying away in the uper extreme of the tone.

It must strike the Reader, that the above terms can have only a
general reference to the two extremes of the concretej for the
gradual change of the radical into the vanish prevents our asign-
ing an exact point of distinction between them.

When a single vowel sound, capable of prolongation, is utered
with propriety and smoothnes, and without vocal expresion, it
comences full and somewhat abruptly, and gradualy decreases in
its upward movement, until it becomes inaudible ; having the in-
crements of time and rise, and the decrements of fulnes, equably
progresive. Or, suposing a gradual diminution of fulnes, in the
gradual rise thru a tone to be efccted in a given timej one half or
smaler fraction of that rise and diminution will be efected in one
half or smaler fraction of that time. Let us call this form of the
radical and vanishing movement, the Equable Concrete.

The varied forms of the vocal function in Song and Recitative,
may ilustrate the character of this equability in the intonation of

The long-dra^vn voice of one continued pitch, licard in song
and recitative, is produced in two ways.

First; by giving a greater proportion of time and volume to
one continuous and level line of sound, in the radical place ; and


by subsequently rising concretely, lightly, and rapidly, tliru the
superior portion of the interval. Let us call this, the Protracted

Second ; by rising concretely, lightly, and rapidly thru the in-
ferior portion of the interval, and then prolonging the voice with
greater volume, on a level line at the highest point of the vanish.
Let us call this, the Protracted Vanish.

Thus far, intonation exhibits three modifications of the radical
and vanishing movement : The Equable Concrete of speech ; the
Protracted Radical, and the Protracted Vanish, both of which
are used in song and recitative. AYe shall learn, as we procede,
the various relationships of the concrete to all the simple and
compounded intervals, to the alphabetic elements, to time, and to

I have spoken of the radical and vanishing movement through
a tone, to explain by that interval, the formation of the concrete
rise, and its threefold division. In taking a wider survey of the
subject, we learuj the radical and vanish is made on every other

Ascending concretely, from the seventh to the eighth degree
of the scale, by a and e, in the maner of the diagram on the
ninety-first page ; that is, by laying a stres on the two extremes
of this intervalj the voice has a plaintive character, very diferent
from that of the tone, or interval between the first and second.
The interval from the seventh to the eighth place of the diatonic
scale, is a semitone. This plaintive concrete therefore, when aten-
uated, and made equable by gradualy diminishing the stres at its
uper extreme, shown in the sucesive symbols of that diagramj is
the radical and vanishing or equable concrete movement of a

Again, in ascending concretely upon a and e, from the first to
the third place of the scale, with a stres on e, in that third place,
the efect of this continuous movement difers from that of the
tone, and the semitone ; for it resembles a mo

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 8 of 59)