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 9 of 59)
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treme, is the radical and vanishing or equable concrete movement
of a third.


By a proces analogous to that just proposed, for distinguishing
the interval of a third, we may ascertain the concrete movement
of a fifth, and of an octave ; for these, with stres at their uper
extremes, have earnest interogative expresions. Then diminishing
the stress, directed in the former cases, we have respectively, the
equable radical and vanishing movements of \he fifth and octave.

In this manner, the ear perceves in their varied characters, the
several vocal movements of an equable Rising radical and vanish-
ing semitone, of a tone or second, of a major third, a fifth, and
an octave. These intervals have their proper significations in
the expresion of speech, and ^vill be particularly noticed hereafter.

The above description represents the Concrete rise of the several

The Discrete scale is likewise used in speech ; and its skiping
intervals are, perhaps, as readily distinguishable as the gliding
interv^als of the concrete. When therefore we are able to ascend
the discrete steps of the diatonic scale, in proximate sucesion, and
to recognize its wider intervals, we have only to mark, by some
vowel-sound, the first and second, and the seventh and eighth
degrees of the scale, to form respectively the discrete rising tone
or second, and the semitone. In like maner by skiping the other
intervals, we shall. have a discrete rising third, fifth, and octave.

Let us consider another condition of the radical and vanish.
We have viewed the concrete of the voice only in its rising pro-
gres. There is a similar glide in a downward direction respectively
thru all the intervals of the scale. In this downward form of
the concrete, we take the scale numericaly, as in its upward course ;
the like number of degrees constituting intervals of the same
name, in each direction. For this descending progres, music em-
ploys the terms, a second, third, fifth, and octave, below ; whereas,
for the intonations of sj^eech, I shall generaly use \\\(i adjective-
term downward, or descending, or faling, to denote this direction
on the scale. Refering then to our former experiments, if the bow
be drawn while the finger is moving continuously, from tlie eighth
place on the string to any distance downward, it will produce a
concrete descending sound. In this way, the faling concrete will
have the described properties of the rising radical and vanisli, with
this diference onlyj the radical, if it may now be so caled, is here


at the sumit of the interval, while the vanish eqnably diminishes
to its lower extreme. To render the extent of a doNvnward inter-
val }»orcoptiblo, let the stres be aplied to the extremity of its de-
scending vanish, and then in repetition gradualy diminished, as
ilustrated by the diagram, on the ninety-first page, when taken
in an inverted position, from right to left. Thus exemplified, the
movement from a, at the eighth degree of the scale, to e, in the
seventh, will give the downward equable-concrete semitone ; from
the second to the first, the downward-equable-^one / and in this
maner, a descent from the third, fifth, and eighth degree, respec-
tively to the first, will give the downward radical and vanishing or
equable-concrete third, fifth, and octave.

The downward movement is likewise made in the discrete pro-
gresion. This may be readily heard on the Piano, and other in-
struments with a scale of fixed degreesj by striking in sucesion,
the extreme notes of the required interval ; and in the voice, by a
unison-imitation of these instrumental sounds, upon vowels or
sylablesj thereby exemplifying a downward discrete octave, fifth,
third, second, and semitone.

He who is acquainted with the musical scale, but has not yet
considered it with reference to speech, may ascertain the upward
coTirse of the tone and of the semitone, on a vowel, by comparing
their efects respectively with those of the first and last interval of
the rising scale. In like maner, he may know the downward
course of the semitone and of the tone, by comparing them respec-
tively with the first and the last interval of the descending scale.
Every one knows a plaintive expresion in speech ; it is easy there-
fore to recognize a semitone. And perhaps there is not too much
confidence in aserting, that before the atentive and competent
Reader has finished this essay, he will have no more dificulty in
discriminating every other important interval of the rising and
the faling scale.

I say nothing here of a concrete radical and vanishing fowih,
sixth, and seventh ; nor of wider ranges than tlie octave ; nor of
the discrete movement over these intervals; not that the voice in
an upward and a downward course does not use them, but that a
reference to the third, fifth, and octave, is suficiently precise for
the purpose of our history.


Besides the above-described forms of the concrete and discrete
movements, both in an upward and downward direction, there is a
continuous course of the rising into the faling concretej and re-
versely, a continuity of the faling into the rising. This form of
the radical and vanish will be particularly noticed hereafter under
the name of the Wave. We will call it Direct, when the first
interval ascends, and the second descends; Inverted, when this
order of the intervals is reversed ; Equal, when the rising and the
faling are in extent the same ; and Unequal, when diferent. It is
called Single, when two intervals only are joined : Double, when
another is subjoined to the second of the single form : and Con-
tinued, when the number of flexures excede the double. The
wave is made on all the intervals of the scale ; and its diferent
forms may be variously united with each other. It may be double-
direct, unequal direct, double-unequal, and in short, its intervals
may be in all posible combinations.

I have not yet finished the preparatory explanations. The
simple radical and vanish may, in its rise and its fall, receve a
Fulnes or Force, or acentual stres, under the six folowing forms.
First. The radical of the equable movement, as previously shown,
is distinguished from the rest of the concrete, by its initial stres.
Second. While the proportion of radical to vanish remains unal-
tered, the whole equable concrete may be magnified by unusual
force. Third. The voice may be sweled, on a concrete, or on a
wave, to an impresive fulnes, at the midle of its course. Fourth.
There may be an unusual stres at each extremity of the concrete.
Fifth. AVhile the radical Ls reduced in fulnes, the vanisliing ex-
tremity may have a forcible termination. Sixth. The concrete or
the wave may have the fidnes and force of the radical thruout its
whole extent. As tliere will be frequent ocasions to discriminate
between these acentual conditions of the radical and vanish, and
its equable structure, I shall employ the phrase Simple Concrete,
to distinguish the later from its variations by force or fulness, at
its several points or on the whole of its course.

I have in the j)resent and the preceding section taken a general
survey of the five modes of Vocality, Time, Force, Abruptnes,
and Pit(;h j preparatory to a detail of their respective forms, varie-
ties, and degrees, in denoting the states and purposes of tlie mind ;


and shall hereafter make a division of these states and purposes,
into that of plain unexcited Thot, and that of the expresive de-
grees of Pasion ; particularly describing the vocal sign apropriate
to each.

The folowing diagrams may ilustrate the various foregoing de-
scriptions. Tiic spaces and linos denote places of pitch ; the prox-
imate sucesion of line and space being that of a second or tone.
These lines and spaces difer from the staf of the musical system ;
the later being founded on the diatonic scale, denotes in certain
places, the interval of a semitone ; whereas the lines and spaces
for the notation of speech signify always, the sucesion of a tone,
except otherwise specified. The full black symbols on these lines
and spaces, with their isuing and tapering apendages of various
extent, represent the oj>ening fulnes, direction, and diminution of
the radical and vanishing movement. The distances between the
radicals of the concrete seconds, thirds, fifths, and octaves, severaly
represent the discrete intervals. Time is represented as in music :
the open elipse signifying the longest ; the small head and stem,
with its two hooks to denote the duration of the vanish, being in
this case, the sixteenth part of the open elipse. Except for the
protracted radical, and vanish, the notation of Time will not be
here employed. A use of the measurable relations of Time, \vith
the proportional value of its symbols, is indispensable to the me-
lodial rythmus, and to the concerted harmonies of music. Speech
being a solo of intonation, and requiring no conformity in time with
other voices J the use of Quantity on sucesive sylables, is left to the
thot or pasion which directs the apropriate utterance.

These diagrams represent three of the five modes of the voiccj
Pitch, Abruptnes, and Time. Vocality has never, to my knowl-
edge, had a symbol cither in music or speech : yet there is no
cause why it mit not and shud not, when remarkable in its difer-
ences, be so represented. Force is vaguely indicated by the usual
gramatical marks for acent and emphasis, and by italic type.
Should this analysis and system be ever generaly adopted ; and
the purposes of speech require itj apropriate symbols for Vo-
cality, Force, and Time, may without much dificulty be conectcd
with the forms of the equable concrete, and the wave.



I have not given symbols for the concrete and discrete minor
third, and semitone, since their representation on the staff may be
easily made.

o 03 Eh


^ 2

t- !> t^

I — ^ 1 1 — ^ 1 ^


C3 >


.5 > o •■-

«< ►* CC (^


^ J - ;s

U .t:

S S ^ s

ft ^

P .s



Forms of acentual fulnes or stres on the Concrete.



In the above notation, there is no meaning in the curve of the
vanish, except on tlic wavesj nor in the circular enlargement of


tlie radical. In this, as formerly remarked, the eye oidy was
consulted ; yet I cannot say, the engraver has, in all cases, done
justice to the drawing furnished.*

I have here described, under its various forms, an imj)ortant
and delicate function of speech. There is a peculiarity in the
human voice which has never been copied by instrumental con-
trivances. The sounds of the horn, flute, and musical-glass, may
severaly equal and even surpas in vocality a long-drawn and level
vocal note: still there is something wanting, that distinguishes
their intonation from that of speech. It is the want of the equa-
ble gliding, the lesening volume, and the soft extinction of the
yet inimitable radical and vanishing movement.

And further ; the simple uterance of the radical and vanish
seems to be an instinctiv^e and uncontrolable function of the voice :
for to my observation, even the very shortest vocal impulse on a
voAvel or sylable, is not, so to speak, a mere point of sound with-
out dimensions, but is necesarily made upward or downward by
some, however rapid movement. This remark is true of the voices
of many sub-animals. Does it aply to all ? and even to comon
mechanical noises?

In the course of this esay, I shall endeavor to obviate the efect
of that repetition of its nomenclature, which the purpose of ex-
planation and the newnes of the subject mit rcquircj by the use
of various abreviated but equivalent terms. The Concrete func-
tion will, according to the general or specific purpose in its use,

* On first observing the peculiar character of the radical and vanish ; when
my atcntion was sometimes misled by hasty conclusions, and wliile doubtfuly
experimenting on the form of melodyj I drew, partly after the putern of a
musical note, the symbol of the concrete as it still remains. And see, how
that deceitful thing the mind with its resemblances, as we are prone to use
them, should be watched. Upon the first draft of the ilustrations, the grace-
ful lines of a Greek scrol seemed analogous to the delicate impresion of the
vocal vanish ; and the form then given to the symbol subsequently so influ-
enced my perception, that perhaps I am not yet quite free from tiio tliOt that
induced it. Altho aware from the first, that the figurative rejjroscntation of
the radical and vanish should be by the outline of a spire, still the wcdge-liko
symbol, espccialy if set obliquely on the staft", apeared too awkward a i)icture
of this mastery no, this mistres-principle of tho voice.

I here offer an apology for my departure from corectncs in the iliistration.
If I have comittcd a fault I much regret it; ajid thereupon write tliis note, to
prevent a false impresion on the mind of the Header.


be variously caled the radical and vanishing movement ; the con-
crete movement, progresion, interval, or pitch ; or simply the
radical and vanish, or the concrete ; or the radical and vanishing
concrete tone, semitone, third, fifth, and octave. The Discrete
function will be caled the discrete movement, progresion, change,
skip, or pitch ; or the radical movement, change, progresion, skip,
or pitch ; or the discrete tone, semitone, third, fifth, and octave.
Each of the above phrases may have the specification of rise or
fall, upward or downward, ascent or descent, according to the re-
quired purpose, or to any desirable variation of terms. Shud
the direction of the concrete, or of the radical not be specified
or implied, the term is used for either rise or fall. As a general
designation of the extent of intervals and wavesj all greater than
those of the semitone and second will be called wider, to form
a better rythmus than wide, in qualifying those terms of intona-

Let the Reader then not be alarmed at the variety of these
terms. At present he need only regard them for future reference,
if he should hereafter find it necesary. When he requires them,
he will perhaps perceve, they are phrases conected so necesarily
with the subject, that he himself might have made them. Indeed,
a future wide companionship in the knowledge of speech, may have
a shorter and more convenient nomenclature of its own.

Let him however not be discouraged, by his first dificulty in
discriminating the intervals of speech. There was much to per-
plex and to threaten with despair, in the course of observation by
which these intervals were first measured and described. Yet
even these now palpable phenomena were not perccved at a mo-
ment, as perhaps they mit be, under a simple and real education
of the senses and of thot. For the miror of the mind obscured
and distorted in its imagery, by a habitual ocupation with little
else than Fictionj and Argument, too often the provocative of
fictionj is not prei)ared to reflect the realities of nature without
dimnes or delay. The first perceptions by the author of this esay
were full of indistinctness and doubt ; far grciitcr ])crhaps, than
the inteligcnt Reader may experience from the dcscrij)tions in this
section. Yet after three years familiarity with the different inter-
vals of intonation, their various degrees were nmch more percep-


tible to him, than tlie discrimination of colors without direct
comparison ; and quite as distinguisliable by their efect upon the
ear in deliberate uterance, as tlie vocality, time, and force of sylabic


Of the Elementary Sounds of the English Language ; with their
Relations to the Radical and Vanishing Movement.

The term Element is aplied to the most simple form of the
articulate voice ; and is not otherwise used in this Essay. The
element as a sound adresed to the ear, is to be distinguished from
its visible symbol or leter ; which is sometimes specified as an
alphabetic element.

The radical and vanishing concrete, under all its forms, is em-
ployed on a limited number of these elementary sounds, said by
some writers, whom I here follow, to amount in the English lan-
guage, to thirty-five. It seems useles to raise a distracting ques-
tion on the subject of the kind and number of the elements. As
long as the human mind prefers contention, to practical agreement,
there will j>erhaps be refinements and diferences on this point. The
thirty-five here asumed, aford all the distinctions required for the
uses of this Work. And they have been found suficient for prac-
tical purposes, by those who have no time nor fondness for useles
discovery or for dispute.*

* English philologists have, acording to their real or afectod nicety of car,
difered on the subject of the number of the elements in our language. The
diferences refer to the character of the sounds, or to the time, or maner of
pronouncing them. The broad sound of a in all, and of o in occupy have
been enumerated as diferent. If there is a diference, it may consist in the
abrupt uterance of oc, or the sudencs with which the sound breaks from the
organs. A like distinction has been made between o in oor.c, and « in htiW j
where the explosive acent seems to give the perceptible diference to the short
vowel. Now this abruptnes of voice is a generic function, or mode, aplicable
to all vowels, and tbercfore not a ground for specific distinction. It is how-
ever, of little practical consequence, whether cases like these arc decided one
way or the other.


An alphabet should consist of a separate symbol for eveiy ele-
mentary sound. Under this view, the deficiencies, redundancies,
and confusion of the system of alphabetic characters in the Eng-
lish language, prevent the adoption of its common grammatical
subdivisions here.

The sounds of the alphabetic elements are the material, and
their combination into significant words, the formal causes of all
language. It apears to me however, that a clasification, acording
to their uses in other phenomena of speech, besides that of its ar-
ticulation, wud be practicaly useful as well as definitively just. But
as Intonation is an important mode of speech, the arangement of
the elements if practicaly regarded, should have some reference to
it. In the present section therefore, these elements will be de-
scribed and clased, acording to their use in intonation.*

* I set aside, in this place at least, the sacred division into vowels, conso-
nants, mutes and semivowels. The complete history of nature will consist of
a full description of all the interchangeable rehxtionships, not of notions after
the metaphysical maner, but of perceptible things. "We receved the clasifi-
cation of the elements from Greek and Roman gramarians : and their division,
acording to organic causes, into labial, lingual, dental, and nasal, is now
strictly a part of the physiology of speech. But whatever cause, conected with
the vocal habits of another nation, or the etymologies of another tongue,
may have justified the division into vowels and consonants acording to their
definition, it does not exist with us. Without designing to overlook or de-
stroy arangements, truly representing the relationships of these sounds, it is
only intended in this esay to add to their history a division, grounded on their
important functions in intonation. The strictnes of philosophy should not
be so far forgoten, as to sufer the claim of this clasification to be- exclusive.
Let it remain as only a constituent portion, of new and wider prospects, yet
to be opened in the art.

Passing by other asailable points of our imemorial system, the contradis-
tinction of its two leading divisions is a misrepresentation. Had he an ear
who said, and belevedj a consonant cannot be sounded without the help of a
vowel ?

Among the thousand mismanagements of literary instruction, there is at
the outset in the horn-book, a pretence to represent elementary sounds, by
sylables composed of two or more elements, asj Be, Kay, Zed, double U, and
Aitch. These words are used in infancy and thru life, as simple elements in
the proces of synthetic speling. But no eror or oversight of the school shud
ever make us forget the realities of nature.

Any pronouncing dictionary sliows, that consonants alone may form syla-
bles ; and if they have never been apropriated to words which might stand
solitary in a sentence, like the vowels a, i, o, a-/i, and a-ji^c, it is not because


As the number of elementary sounds in the English language
excedes that of tlie literal symbols, and as some of these symbols,
cspeciuly those of the vowels, are made to represent various sounds,
without a rule for discriminationj I propose to suply this want of
precision, by using short words of known pronunciation, contain-
ing the elementary sounds with the leters that represent them,
marked in italics ; which the Reader may exemplify to himself.

Let him begin to utter the word all. The moment the sound of
a is completed, let him pause ; and that initial sound gives one of
the elementary sounds of a. In a like experiment with other in-
itial vowels of selected examples, he will hear the precise sounds
of the other vowel elements. Again, for the consonants. In the
word bee, let him pause after the obscure 'guttural murmur'
of its first sound, and he will hear the element represented by the
letter b.

Or, otherwise : let him, in the instance of both vowel and con-
sonant, prolong unusualy the first element, before joinmg it to the
next ; and the single elementary vowel, and the single elementary
consonant will be respectively heard in that prolongation.

The thirty-five Elements are now to be considered under their
relationships to the radical and vanish. And as the properties of
this function are, prolongation of sound, and variation of con-
crete pitch, with initial force and final feeblcnesj these elements
should be regarded in their varied capacity for the display of these

With this view, our elements of articulation may be aranged
under three general heads.

The first division embraces sounds with the radical and vanish
in its most perfect form. They are twelve in number; and are
heard in the usual sound of the separated italics, in the folowing

^-11, a-rt, a-n, a-le, oiir-r, t-sle, o-ld, ee-1, oo-ze, e-rr, e-nd,
and t-n.

From their being the purest and most manageable means for
intonation, I have called them Tonic sounds.

they cannot be so used ; but because they have not that full and manageable
kind of vocality, which exhibits the quantity, force, and intonation of an
unconected element, with suflcient emphasis and with agreeable efect.


They consist of (liferent sorts of Vocalityj, or of that kind of
voice in which we usualy speak, and here contradistinguished from
whisper or aspiration. They are produced by the joint functions
of the larynx, fauces, and parts of the internal and external mouth.

The tonicsj pronouncing the o broad, as in o-r^ are of a more
tunable voice than the other elements. They are capable of in-
definite prolongation ; admit of the concrete and tremulous rise
and fall, thru all the intervals of pitch ; may be utered more
forcibly than the other elements, as well as with more abruptnes ;
and while these last two characteristics are apropriate to the fulnes
and stres of the radical^ the atenuative prolongation, on their
pure and controlable vocalit}^, is finely acomodated to the vanishing
movement. Universaly, they havej for the purposes of an agreable
intonation j a eidony, briefly so to call it, beyond the other elements.

The second division includes a number of sounds, posesing
variously among themselves, a character similar to that of the
tonics ; but difering in degree. They amount to fourteen ; and
are marked by the sound of the separated italics, in the folowing
words :

5-0 w, c?-are, ^r-ive, u-ile, 2-one, y-e, w-o, th-en, a-z-ure, si-n^r,
Z-ove, m-ay, n-ot, r-ose.

From their inferiority to the tonics, for all the emphatic and
elegant purposes of speech, while they admit of being intonated or
caried concretely thru the intervals of the scale, I have called them
Subtonic sounds.

They all have a vocality ; in some it is combined with aspiration.
B, d, g, ng, I, m, n, r, have an unmixed vocality ; v, z, y, to, th,

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 9 of 59)