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art as well as by the piety of one of its members. In “Sermons on Symbols,” * every one may see how eagerly the religious spirit of one of the most catholicminded, and at the same time least narrow, of our clergymen, avails itself of the aid of parable and symbol in pressing home, almost in the same fashion in which the Church of the Catacombs pressed home, the lessons of Christ. To some extent, we believe this increasing love of symbol in religion to be due to the doubt which makes dogma difficult to the present generation, and which prefers, therefore, vague to explicit religious statements. In symbol there is no bond, and the mind which hesitates at every explicit declaration of creed can always take refuge in those hopeful signs and promises of more perfect beauty which Nature lavishes in such abundance among her richest gifts to men. It is true that she is equally lavish of symbols which are by no means so hopeful, symbols of evil and prophecies of pain and ruin; but even they admit of a use for the purposes of warning and reproach which does not commit him who uses them to any very oppressive creed. Unquestionably it is in part because picture, symbol, and parable, while they can be used to express some of the highest feelings and moral convictions, cannot be used to commit those who use them to any very rigid belief, that they are so popular in our own day. They embody the higher tendencies of religious feeling without embodying any very distinct intellectual conclusions. But another reason why symbolic art is so popular as it is in our modern Churches, is that it is the form in which it is most easy to indicate a belief in that ultimate unity among all the forms of life, natural and supernatural, or, as some prefer to say, human and divine, which is supposed to be the special lesson of science for the present day; in other words, that it is by symbol that it is most easy to illustrate the evolution of good out of evil, and the evolution of higher out of lower forms of life, without committing one's self very deeply to any positive prepositions. The science of the day is not unwilling to recognize a certain spiritual optimism in Nature so long as the fundamental characteristic of Nature, its uniform method, is strictly ad
* Swan Sonnenschein and Co.
hered to ; and hence proceeds what we may call the pantheistic element in the religion of science, the disposition to recognize a divine goal in the system of the world as we see it, on condition that we acknowledge no violent antagonism between good and evil, that, in Pope’s words, all “partial evil” shall be recognized as “universal good.” We ourselves do not believe that this tendency of modern science can be reconciled with Christ's teaching at all. In his teaching, evil and good are opposites, and not different shades of the same reality. But though we hold that this is so, and that no mere naturalism can ever be transmuted into a Christian attitude of mind and heart, undoubtedly there is quite enough of true naturalism in Christ, quite enough of love for the gentle growth and unforced blossoming of Nature, to make the symbolism of Nature a most effective and pathetic medium in which to express a large number of the divine lessons which the Good Shepherd taught. Natural science, it is true, will never resolve the free will of man into a mere unfolding of Nature. It will always attempt this; it will always be pantheistic in its drift, because, deriving its methods from a region in which free will does not exist, and inevitable evolution is everything, it cannot explain that of which in this region there is not even a germ. But none the less, so long as there is a real transition from what is dead to what is living, from what is gross to what is glorious, from what is mean to what is beautiful, in Nature, so long there will be a region in which natural science and religion may move side by side, though a point will always be reached at last at which they tend sharply to diverge. And just at present, when the great task of the day seems to be to reconcile the doctrine of evolution with the revelation of God to man, and to discern the unity of Nature, so far as Nature is really one, the symbolic treatment of the religious life is the treatment of it which has most charms for the man of science, and which is most likely to reconcile him to at least a considerable element in the Christian faith. For example, in the little book of “Sermons on Symbols” of which we have spoken, Mr. Chapman says boldly that “it is by our falls that we rise to higher levels than we ever knew,”—a doctrine which is no doubt true of seeming falls, of failures which were not really moral falls, because we were not really any worse after we fell than we were before we fell. But it is pure naturalism, pure repudiation of the fact of freedom and the reality of sin, if it be meant, as such a doctrine often is meant, though not by Mr. Chapman, to suggest that men are really the better for their sins, and that their sins are nothing but errors in disguise. We believe, then, that though the increasing love of symbolism in religion is natural and healthy, yet that a great part of its immediate popularity is due to the
naturalistic tendency which yearns to find an absolute unity in Nature, human and divine, and to resolve all the transformations, moral and otherwise, through which the human mind passes, into mere growths evolved from the great source of life by the ordinary laws of the creative spirit. That is not Christianity, but a Pantheism at issue with Christianity. Still, there is enough in Christianity that is of a piece with Nature to make naturalism useful up to a certain point, though beyond that point it is misleading. --Spectator.
SPEECH AND SONG.
BY SIR MORELL MACKENZIE.
IN dealing with the two great forms of vocal utterance, it will be most convenient to take them in their historical, or at any rate their logical, order. Whatever “native woodnotes wild” our hypothetical half-human ancestor may have “warbled ” by way of love-ditties before he taught himself to speak, there is no doubt that singing as an art is a later development than articulate speech, without which, indeed, song would be like a body without a soul. I will, therefore, treat of speech first ; and it will clear the ground if I begin with a definition. Physiologically, speech is the power of modifying vocal sound by breaking it up into distinct elements, and moulding it, if I may say so, into different forms. Speech, in this sense, is the universal faculty of which the various languages by means of which men hold converse with each other are the particular manifestations. Speech is the abstract genus, language the concrete species.
I am happy to say it does not fall within the scope of my present purpose to discuss the origin of language, a mysterious problem, on which the human brain has exercised itself so much and to so little purpose, that some years ago, I believe, the French Academy declined to receive any further communications on the subject. The origin of the voice is a different matter. The vocal function is primarily a means of expression. I see no reason
for disagreeing with Darwin, when he says that “the primeval use and means of development of the voice” was as an instrument of sexual attraction. The progenitors of man, both male and female, are supposed to have made every effort to charm each other by vocal melody, or what they considered to be such, and by constant practice with that object the vocal organs became developed. Darwin seems inclined to believe that, as women have sweeter voices than men, they were the first to acquire musical powers in order to attract the other sex, by which I suppose he means that the feminine voice owes its greater sweetness to more persevering culture for purposes of flirtation. I do not know whether the ladies of the present day will own this soft impeachment, or whether they will be flattered by the suggestion that their remote ancestresses lived in a perpetual Leap Year of courtship. Other emotions, however, besides the master passion of love had to be expressed; joy, anger, fear, and pain had all to find utterance, and the nervous centres excited by these various stimuli threw the whole muscular system into violent contractions, which in the case of the muscles moving the chest and the vocal cords naturally produced sound—that is to say, voice. These movements, at first accidental and purposeless, in time became inseparably associated with the emotional state giving rise to them, so as to coincide with it, and thus serve as an index or expression thereof. From this to the voluntary emission of vocal sounds is an easy step, and it is probable enough that the character of those sounds was primarily due to the “imitation and modification of different natural sounds, the voices of other animals and man's own instinctive cries.” + The mechanism of the voice is extremely simple in its general principles, though highly complex in its details. Fortunately a knowledge of the latter is not required for the comprehension of the main facts relative to the production of the voice, and I shall not further allude to them here. Vocal sound is produced solely in the larynx, an elementary fact which must be thoroughly grasped, as many absurd notions are current even among people who should know better, such as that the voice may be produced at the back of the nose, in the stomach, and elsewhere. The larynx is a musical instrument of very complex structure, partaking both of the reed and the string type, the former, however, distinctly predominating. It is essentially a small chamber with cartilagiuous walls, which is divided into an upper and a lower compartment by a sort of sliding floor, or double valve, formed by the two vocal cords. In breathing this valve opens, its two lateral halves gliding wide apart from each other, so as to allow a broad column of air to pass through : in speaking or singing, on the other hand, the valve is closed, but for a narrow rift along its middle. Through this small chink the air escaping from the lungs is forced out gradually in a thin stream, which is compressed, so to speak, between the edges of the cords, that form the opening technically called the “glottis,” through which it passes. The arrangement is typical of the economical workmanship of Nature. The widest possible entrance is prepared for the air which is taken into the lungs, as the freest ventilation of their whole mucous surface is necessary. When the air has been fully utilized for that purpose, it is, if need be, put to a new use on its way out for the production of voice, and in that case it is carefully husbanded and allowed to escape in severely regulated measure, every particle of it being made to render its exact
* “Descent of Man, 2d ed., 1882, p. 87.
equivalent in force to work the vocal millwheel. When the air is driven from the lungs up the windpipe it strikes against the under surface of the floor or double valve formed by the vocal cords, which are firmly stretched to receive the shock, forces them apart to a greater or less extent, and, in rushing out between them, throws them into vibration. The vibration of the vocal cords makes the column of air itself vibrate, and the vibration is communicated to the air in the upper part of the throat, the nose, and mouth, from which finally it issues as sound. The vocal cords are the “reeds” of the vocal instrument, and as, owing to the extraordinary number and intricate arrangement of their muscular fibres, they can change their length and shape and thickness in an almost infinite variety of ways, they are equal in effect to many different reeds. If the vocal cords cannot move so as to bring their edges almost into contact, or if there is any substance between them which prevents them from coming together, the voice is destroyed; if there is anything (such as a growth) in or on one of them, its vibration is more or less checked, and hoarseness is the consequence. The primary sound generated in the larynx is modified by the shape, size, and density of the parts through which the vibrating column of air has to pass before it issues from the “barrier of the teeth.” These “resonators” include the part of the larynx above the vocal cords, with the little sounding board, the epiglottis, covering it; the **. part of the throat or pharynx, the nasal passages with certain echoing caves in the bones of the skull which communicate there with ; and the mouth, with the soft palate and uvula, tongue, cheeks, teeth, and lips. It is to these resonators, as well as to the size and shape of the larynx itself—and those parts, like the features of the face, are never exactly similar in any two individuals—that the distinctive quality, or timbre, of the voice is due. Timbre is the physiognomy of the voice by which the speaker can be recognized even when unseen. Just as the face may be lit up with joy, darkened with sorrow, or distorted with passion, so may the voice be altered by strong mental emotion. This is due to the influence of the mind on the nervous system, which controls every part of the body; if it be stimulated, increased action will be excited ; if disordered by shock, feeble irregular movements will be produced, the limbs will shake, and the voice tremble. From the effect of peculiarities of physical conformation on the voice it will be readily understood that timbre may be, in some degree, a national or racial peculiarity. There are also certain physical types which correspond to particular timbres of the voice. I have noticed this particularly in persons of like complexion even when different in race. Thus, a certain sharp metallic clearness of articulation is often found in individuals of ruddy complexion, light yellow hair, and hard blue eyes, while rich mellow tones, with a tendency to portamento in ordinary speech, are often associated with black hair and florid face. A remarkable point is that the same voice may be altogether different in timbre in singing from what it is in speaking. The difference is probably due to the fact that in singing the resonators are, instinctively, or as the result of training, managed in a more artistically effective manner than in ordinary speech. Speech differs from song as walking does from dancing ; speech may be called the prose, song the poetry of vocal sound. Mr. Herbert Spencer has defined song as “emotional speech,” but this term might with greater justice be used to designate the hystero-epileptic oratory which threatens to become acclimatized in this sober island, or even to the exchange of amenities between two angry cabmen. It would be more accurate to call song “musical speech,” using the word “musical" in its strict sense as signifying sound with definite variations of tone and regularity of time. But, just as there may be “songs without words,” so there may be speech without voice, as in whispering. Sound, as we have already seen, is produced in the larynx, but alticulation, or the transformation of meaningless sound into speech, is performed in the mouth ; in speaking, therefore, the two parts work together, the larynx sending out a stream of sound, and the mouth, by means of the tongue, cheeks, palate, teeth, and lips, breaking it up into variously formed jets or words. In other words, the larynx supplies the raw material of sound which the mouth manufactures into speech. Time, which is an essential element of song, is altogether disregarded in speech,
while the intervals of tone are so irregular as to defy notation, and are filled up with a number of intermediate sounds instead of being sharply defined. The voice glides about at its own sweet will in speaking, obeying no rule whatever, while in song it springs or drops from one tone to the next over strictly measured gaps. In singing, short syllables are lengthened out and cease in fact to be short, and (except in certain kinds of dramatic singing and in recitative) the accent naturally falls on the vowels and not on the consonants. In speaking, only the lower third of the voice is employed as a rule, while in singing the greatest effect is generally produced, except in the case of contraltos and basses, by the use of the upper and middle notes. In speech the range of tone, even in the most excitable persons, hardly ever exceeds half an octave ; in singing the average compass is two octaves. Singing tends to preserve purity of language, the rules which govern the utterance of every note also affecting the articulate element combined with it, and keeping the words cast in fixed forms—a stereotype of sound, if I may venture the metaphor. Speech, on the other hand, like hand-writing, is always changing. As Max Müller says: “A struggle for life is constantly going on among the words and grammatical forms in each language. The better, the shorter, the easier forms are constantly gaining the upper hand, and they owe their success to their own inherent virtue.” ” Thus speech not only tends to split language into dialects, but each dialect is being continually, though imperceptibly, modified, not only in construction but in pronunciation. The pronunciation of an Englishman of Chaucer's day would be unintelligible to us, while that of one of Shakespeare's contemporaries would be as strange to our ears as the accent of an Aberdeen fishwife is to the average Cockney. If the speaking voice has a distinctly sing-song character—that is to say, if it proceeds by musical intervals—the result is as grotesque as it would be to talk in blank verse, or, as Sir Toby Belch says, “to go to church in a galliard and come home in a coranto.” On the other hand, the speaking voice becomes most sympathetic in its quality when it approaches the singing voice, the musical character, however, being concealed by the variety of its inflections. It is important that in speaking a musical note should never be recognized; the effect is as unpleasant to our ears as an accidental hexameter in a sentence of prose was to the ancients. Wide as the difference is between speech and song, the great gulf fixed be. tween them is partly filled up by intermediate modes of using the voice which partake of the nature of both. Thus there is the measured utterance of declamation, which may be so rhythmical in time and varied in tone as to be almost song. On the other hand, the recitativo of the opera approaches speech. Various intermediate forms between speech and song may be heard in the ordinary speech of certain races, notably in Italians, Welshmen, and the inhabitants of certain parts of Scotland and England. The Puritans, as is well known, uttered their formal and affected diction in a peculiar nasal tone; and the term “cant,” though properly belonging to their sing-song delivery, came to be applied to the sentiments expressed by it. Many of the ancient orators, to judge from the description left us by Cicero and Quintilian, would seem to have sung their speeches, the style of declamation being, in fact, expressly termed cantus obscurior. As they generally spoke in the open air, and to vast audiences, this artificial mode of delivery may have been necessary in order to make the voice reach further than if they had spoken in a more natural way. C. Gracchus used to have a musician behind him while he spoke, to give him the note from time to time with a musical instrument called a tonarion. A similar plan might, with much advantage to the “general ear,” be adopted by certain modern orators, the crescendo of whose enthusiasm expresses itself in increasing intensity of shrillness. Those who have not given much attention to the subject are apt to think of speaking, as Dogberry did of reading and writing, that it “comes by nature”—that it is, in fact, an instinctive act, which no more needs cultivation for its right performance than eating or sleeping. This is a great mistake. Speaking, even of that slipshod kind which is mostly used in ordinary conversation, is an art, and as such has to be learned, often with much labor. The complicated muscular actions,
* Nature, January 6, 1870.
the nice nervous adjustments, the combination of these into one harmonious effort directed to a particular end, and, finally, the mastery of all these movements till they can be produced automatically without a direct and continuous exercise of will-power, form a complex process which takes years to learn, and which, by many, is even then very imperfectly acquired. Good speaking is a higher development of the art, which bears the same relation to speech as ordinarily heard that the horsemanship of an Archer or a Cannon bears to the performance of a costermonger's boy on the paternal donkev.
% man who speaks well not only makes himself intelligible to his hearers without difficulty to them, but with a minimum of effort on his own part. If the voice is properly used the throat hardly ever sufers, but wrong production is a fertile source of discomfort and even disease in that region. It should be clearly understood that public speaking, in addition to its intellectual aspects, is a physical performance wheh requires “wind ” and “muscle” and the perfect management of one’s bodily resources, like any other athletic feat. To attempt to speak in public without previous training is like trying to climb the Matterhorn without preparation, and is just as certain to end in failure if not disaster.
It is hardly an exaggeration to say that the training of the voice should begin almost in the cradle. I do not, of course, mean that a baby should be taught to squall according to rule, or that the prattle of children should be made a laborious task. But I wish to insist on the importance of surrounding the child, as soon as it begins to lisp, with persons who speak well. “All languages,” as old Roger Ascham says, “both learned and mother tongues, are begotten and gotten solely by imitation. For as ye use to hear so ye learn to speak; if you hear no other ye speak not yourself ; and whom ye only hear of them ye only learn.” Quintilian says: “Before all . . . let the nurses speak properly. The boy will hear them first, and will try to shape his words by imitating them.” This applies chiefly to pronunciation and the correct use of words; but much might also be done for the right management of the voice if every child could grow up among people who