Imágenes de páginas

The elementary tables of sounds, and words, should be repeatedly practised, in the form of calling, till the student can command a full, clear, ringing, and musical call, or any form of sound which admits this function of the voice.


THE HERALD'S CALL.- Shakspeare.

"Rejoice, you men of Angiers! ring your bells: King John, your king and England's, doth approach ;· Open your gates, and give the victors way!"


"Pure tone 99 is properly the perfection of vocal sound executed by human organs, in the form of music or of speech, in unimpassioned expression. Purity, as a quality of voice in utterance, is, so to speak, the investing property of the sounds in which gentle and moderate emotions are conveyed to the ear. But this quality does not extend beyond the limits of solemnity, on the one hand, or of gaiety and humor, on the other. Its boldest effect is exhibited, as already mentioned, in the mechanical act of calling, which, although sometimes accompanied by intense emotion, is not, by any means, necessarily so attended. The call may be uttered, as among laborers at work, for a merely mechanical purpose of convenience.



But when we advance in the gradations of feeling, and come to the stage of impassioned utterance, and, more particularly, to that in which deep and forcible emotions are combined, mere purity of tone is not adequate to the effect which is to be produced on the ear. the utterance of contemplative repose, nothing beyond pure quality of voice is needed, to give expression to feeling so gentle in its mood. Energy would, in such circumstances, seem violence: it would disturb the quiet of the scene.


Not so when passion rouses or inspires the soul. The intense excitement of feeling then demands that volume and force should predominate in expression. Purity of tone must, indeed, even in such cases, be preserved, to constitute that utterance which, while it assumes an intense energy, still indicates, in the pure quality of the vocal sound, the delight which the soul feels in the consciousness of powerful action. But the properties of voice which, in these circumstances, predominate in the utterance, and fall most impressively on the ear, are volume and energy, combined with ample resonance.

We have a striking example of the species of voice under consideration, in the imagined rallying-shout of Satan to his fallen host, while they lie weltering on the infernal lake, when, - in the colossal image of the poet,- "he called so loud, that all the hollow deep of hell resounded:"

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"Princes! potentates!"

"Awake! arise! or be forever fallen!"

The human voice, here superadding intense emotion to the mere physical act of shouting and calling, becomes, as it were, translated to a sphere of superhuman force and grandeur.

In the "orotund quality" of utterance, volume and purity of tone, to the greatest extent of the one, and the highest perfection of the other, are blended in one vast sphere of sound, expressive of the utmost depth, intensity, and sublimity of emotion, and attended by the fullest resonance of the pharynx and the chest, as well as the larynx.

[ocr errors]

The voice, in the above case, inspired, expanded, and impelled, by the huge conception of the poet's imagination, becomes gigantic in its utterance. The force of the mental associations, imparts the impulsive energy, and their conscious sublimity the "pure tone," of the highest joy. Blend these two properties, and the result is what Dr. Rush has so appropriately termed "orotund " utterance.

The quality of voice to which we now refer, is mentioned by Dr. Rush as the highest perfection of the cultivated utterance of the public speaker. It is also justly regarded by him as the natural language of the highest species of emotion. It characterizes the vivid utterance of children, in their tones of love, and joy, and ecstasy. It belongs to the audible expression of masculine courage, energy, delight, admiration, and to the deliberate language of vengeance, as distinguished from the aspirated and suffocated voice of anger and rage.

In the furious excitement of anger, however, which breathes a fiendish delight in the very consciousness of the destructive passion, the "orotund" will be found to return in the utterance, and predominate even in the scream or yell of the wildest frenzy of excitement.


The property of voice defined by the term orotund," exists, also, in certain physical and mechanical relations of the corporeal organs. Thus, we hear it in the audible functions of yawning, coughing, and laughing; all of which, when forcibly performed, are attended with a sudden and powerful

1 From the Latin phrase "ore rotundo," used by the poet Horace, in allusion to the round and full utterance and flowing eloquence of the Greeks.

expansion of the organic parts, and a ringing fulness, roundness, and smoothness of sound.'

"Orotund" quality may, in one of its forms, (the shout,) be regarded as the maximum of " 'pure tone," united with the most powerful resonance of the pharynx. Like the pure tone, however, it admits of degrees; and we find it existing, according to the greater or less intensity of emotion, in the different forms of "effusive," "expulsive," and "explosive," force. In other cases, it partakes of "aspiration," being rendered "impure," by violence of emotion and force of breath. We proceed to the exemplification of the first of the above gradations.


This designation is applied to that species of utterance in which the voice is not sent forth from the organs by any obvious voluntary expulsion, but is rather suffered to effuse itself from the mouth into the surrounding air. It resembles the insensible and unconscious act of tranquil breathing, as contrasted with the effort of panting. But though perfectly gentle in its formation, and passing but little beyond the limits of merely "pure tone," it still obviously extends beyond that form of voice, and assumes a somewhat different character. "Pure tone," in its "effusive" form, is executed principally by the full expansion of the chest, a large inhalation, but a very gentle and limited expiration; whilst "effusive orotund" gives a very free egress to the breath, and, by its larger volume of sound, and greater emissive force, uses more breath, in the production of sound. "Effusive pure tone" is obtained chiefly by skilful withholding of the breath, and using the larynx so gently and so skilfully, that every particle of air passing through it, is converted into sound. "Effusive orotund" demands a wider opening of the organs, and a freer and firmer use of them, so as to produce a bolder and rounder tone. It resembles, however, in its style, the "effusive" function of " pure tone," in its gentle and sustained swell of utterance, as contrasted with the "expulsive" and "explosive" forms of the "orotund."

1 For a more minute description of "orotund" quality, we refer to the work of Dr. Rush.

The modes of feeling or emotion which are expressed by "effusive orotund voice," are pathos,-when mingled with grandeur and sublimity,—and solemnity and reverence, when expressed in similar circumstances. -Pathos, divested of grandeur, subsides into "pure tone," merely. The same `result takes place in the utterance of solemnity, if unaccompanied by sublimity. But reverence, always implying grandeur or elevation in its source, is uniformly uttered by the "orotund" voice, though from the tranquillity, and the partial awe, with which it is attended, its force does not go beyond the "effusive" form,- —as may be observed in the appropriate tone of adoration, uttered in the exercise of devotion.

Analysis thus shows us the value of the "orotund," as imparting dignity of effect to utterance, even in its gentler moods. It teaches us, moreover, the inefficacy or the inappropriateness of all utterance which, in giving forth the language of noble and inspiring emotion, falls short of "orotund" quality, and reduces the style of voice to that of ordinary or common-place topics. Gray's Elegy, for example, if read without "orotund," becomes feeble and trite, in its style; Milton's Paradise Lost, if so read, becomes dry and flat; and the language of devotion, uttered in the same defective style, in prayer, or in psalms and hymns, becomes irreverent in its effect.

The mode of securing the advantages of "orotund" utterance, is, in the first place, to give up the whole soul to the feeling of what is read or spoken in the language of grave and sublime emotion. The mere superficial impression of a sentiment, is not adequate to the effects of genuine and inspiring expression. The reader or speaker must be so deeply imbued with the spirit of what he utters, that his heart overflows with it, and thus inspires and attunes his organs to the full vividness of expressive action. The ample and noble effect of "orotund" utterance, can never be acquired through the clearest apprehension of a sentiment by the understanding merely the heart must swell with the feeling; and the stream of emotion must gush over the whole man. Nor is it sufficient that the reader's feeling be commensurate with the mere personal impression of a sentiment : genuine expression demands such a surplus, as it were, of emotion that it is sufficient to overflow the reader's own being, and impel and carry on with it the sympathies of his audience. The reader must himself feel the inspiration of number enkindling his personal emotion, and elevating and expanding his being, for the full outpouring of expression.

But few readers seem fully to feel the difference between the quiet and passive state in which we sit and give up our imagination to be impressed by the language of an author, and the communicative and active energy requisite to stamp even such an impression on the minds of others. In the former case, we are but involuntary, or, at

the most, consentaneous recipients: in the latter, we are the positive and voluntary creators of effect.

The deep and full feeling of an author's sentiment, then, is the natural preliminary to expressive effect and consequent "orotund." But, from the imperfections of early culture, attention is, in most cases, demanded, at the same time, to the state and functions of the


The effect of "effusive orotund," on the voice, is identical in its quality with the soft, but round and deep tone of a prolonged yawn, - a form of voice which comes, obviously, from the peculiarly wide and free position of the organs in that act. Hence arises the suggestion to repeat voluntarily the effort of loud and prolonged yawning, and watch its peculiar effect on the sound of the voice, and repeat and prolong the sound in the form of the yawn, till it can be executed at pleasure.

"Effusive orotund" is, in one view, nothing else than "pure tone" rendered intense and ample in volume, by vigorous emission of breath, and by laryngial quality, or the full deep ringing effect of a free use of the larynx, and an ample expansion of the pharynx. The same position and movements of the organs, therefore, are used in the one, as in the other.

The larynx operates in both with the consentaneous enlargement of the pharynx, the elevation of the veil of the palate, and the exactly balanced use of the nasal passage, a style in which it is neither too much compressed, nor too widely opened, but exerted in the mode required to produce what musicians term "head tone."

The cultivation of vocal music, in the form of singing bass, is one of the most effectual means of securing the property of "effusive orotund" utterance, in reading and speaking. The following, and similar examples, together with the tabular elements, should be attentively and repeatedly practised, till the full, clear, deep and perfect resonance of the "orotund" quality of voice, is perfectly at command.

I. Examples of "Effusive Orotund."

1. Pathos and Gloom, or Melancholy mingled with Grandeur.1

From Gray's Elegy.

"The curfew tolls, -the knell of parting day;

The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea;

1 Pathetic, tranquil, and solemn emotions, always pass from "pure tone" to "orotund quality," when force or sublimity, in any degree, marks the language in which these emotions are uttered.

« AnteriorContinuar »