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PRINCIPLES OF ELOCUTION.
The art of Reading and Speaking with expressive distinctness, constitutes what is now generally called ELOCUTION.
The Student should endeavour to acquire separate and consentaneous fower over the various processes concerned with
I. THE MANAGEMENT OF THE BREATH.
1.—THE MANAGEMENT OF THE BREATH. 1. For vocal purposes, the lungs must receive a volume of air greater than that for vital necessities: the inspirations must be full, regular, and noiseless; the expirations even, soft, and non-exhaustive. All speech is formed by emission of breath.
2. Let the chest be kept well raised, and, without effort, the breath will enter the lungs silently and instantaneously. The inhalation may take place either through the nostrils or through the mouth.
3. At long pauses, and whenever the lungs can be slowly filled, breathe through the nostrils, not necessarily by closing the mouth, but by applying the tongue to the palate. Short rapid inspirations are best made through the mouth.
4. Every pause, however slight, should be occupied in replenishing the lungs; and, as the ordinary marks of punctuation are not founded on any healthful principle, coinciding with the requirements of vital respiration or vocal expression, a different system (of Rhetorical Punctuation) must be adopted.
5. The expiratory processes should be regulated not so much by the descent or inward pressure of the thorax or walls of the chest, as by the ascent and upward pressure of the diaphragm or base of the chest.
6. The speaker should never allow himself to be “out of breath.” The chest should never press inward on the lungs, but be kept well raised throughout the longest utterance, or the most vigorous declamation ; and the lungs should be well supplied with air, even at the close of a sentence.
7. Power over the processes of expiration is greatly promoted by reading or speaking in a loud whisper; by declamation in the open air, by the sea side, or while walking up an ascent, &c., &c.
II.-VOCALITY, OR THE PRODUCTION OF VOICE. 8. VOCALITY considers the production of pure tone, and variety of expression by the voice.
9. A properly disciplined voice should possess the power of forming Three Series of Vocal Sounds; namely, the Natural Voice, the Orotund Vo.ce, the Falsetto Voice. These different Voices are, however, all produced in the glottis, by vibrations caused by the passage of expired air.
10. The Voice is modified by increased or diminished aspiration—by the expansion, vibrations, and position of the chest—by directing the sound into the nasal passages, or into the integuments of the skull; on the palate, or through the mouth. The greater or less opening of the aperture of the glottis—the greater or less tension of its vibrating edges—the greater or less elevation of the larynx,—all produce new varieties of acuteness or gravity in the Voice.
11. A husky tone results from relaxation of the glottis ; a guttural tone from contraction of the fauces; a dental tone from too close a position of the teeth ; a labial tone from obstructive or overhanging lips.
12. LOUDNESS of voice depends on the issue of an increased quantity of breath. FORCE depends on the resistance given to the breath as it passes from the lungs. HEIGHT OF TONE is the result of elevation and consequent contraction of the vocal apparatus ; DEPTH OF TONE, of its dilatation and abasement. DRAWLING is reading or speaking with insufficient force and prolonged time.
RULES FOR MANAGING AND IMPROVING THE VOICE.
13. Always endeavour to read and speak in a natural tone. When the ordinary amount of voice is insufficient, extend that tone by giving it a force and volume proportioned either to the place to be filled, or to the distance of the persons addressed : but at all times preserve the usual key of the natural tone. Passages requiring peculiar power should be delivered in that fuller expiratory resonant voice known as the Orotund. The Falsetto voice may be occasionally employed to give relief, or artistically to tone sound in making it." an echo to the sense.
14. Chiefly cultivate the low tones, and endeavour to extend and improve the Natural Voice. For this purpose, read frequently aloud, in a low, strong key, passages which require a firm and dignified enunciation ; and gradually proceed to the most spirited and impassioned exercises. But remember that force is not a proper substitute for feeling. Bodily, gymnastic, and calisthenic exercises are of great advantage. Everything that tends to the improvement of the health has a correspondent influence on the voice.
15. Holding the breath-that is, preventing all wasteful expiration during the prolonged utterance of the vowel sounds—improves the clearness of the voice.
16. Intensity of voice is best attained by practising the coup de la glotte. This exercise consists in taking a full inspiration—firmly closing the glottis—and then suddenly expelling the confined air with instantaneous, loud, clear, variously-modulated sound. In this practice, endeavour not to raise the pitch, but increase the power. Loudness is not intensity.
17. Dialogistic and conversational passages are best adapted to destroy monotony or mannerism, and to facilitate an easy, natural use of the vocal organs.
18. Any undue stress on the glottis itself should be avoided : in fact, the organs should be kept as passive as possible, all the exertion being made by the muscles of the diaphragm in forcibly acting upwards on the lungs. The effort required in energetic delivery is thus thrown on those portions of the frame that are able to bear it, and not on its weakest and most delicate membranes. The organs of the throat should never be forced in the production of voice ; but, on the contrary, should be so managed that the soft, tender fibres forming the vocal chords, as well as the equally delicate structures of the soft palate and throat, may become more elastic, and be at liberty to express every variety of sentiment and feeling.
19. The frequent practice of declamation is highly serviceable. To maintain a harmony between all parts of the muscular system, endeavour to accompany energetic utterance by energetic action. The passions affect the body as well as the mind.
20. Avoid all excesses. Avoid vocal exercise at that period of youth when the voice is breaking. Do not practise immediately after meals, or when hoarse. There is no occasion to avoid the usual food, or, in moderation, its accompaniments. But “be temperate in all things.” After injury or fatigue, silence is the best restorative; but, on the principle of exertion of the muscles, and passiveness of the lungs and glottis, no danger is likely to arise even from violent exercise.
21. The speaker must remember that his objects are three-fold, without all of which eminence cannot be attained: first, to be heard ; secondly, to be understood ; thirdly, to be felt. The voice is best displayed by the fulness and clearness of
THE VOWEL SOUNDS. 22. In the English Language, as at present spoken, there are Thirteen Vowel Sounds, which naturally proceed in the following order :
III.- ARTICULATION AND ITS ORGANS. 23. Articulation is the correct formation, by the organs of speech, of certain approaches or contacts which add to VOCALITY literal and verbal UTTERANCE.
24. Distinct articulation depends on the clear enunciation of certain elements generally called Consonants. There are Four Modes of organic contact or approach, namely: by the Lips—the Upper Teeth and Lower Lip—the tip of the Tongue and back of the Teeth, or fore part of the Hard Palate—the back of the Tongue and Soft Palate.
25. All articulations may be divided into Three Classes: first, those which are produced with breath alone (atonics), named here WHISPERED OF BREATH CONSONANTS ; secondly, those in which voice is heard (sub-tonics), named VOCALIZED or VOICE CONSONANTS, and in some cases having the clear vocality of the vowels (tonics); thirdly, when the breath, obstructed in the mouth, is directed through the nostrils, forming the NASAL CONSONANTS.
GENERAL REMARKS ON ARTICULATION. 26. The process of speech is threefold :First, to breathe ; secondly, to vocalize ; thirdly, to articulate.
27. Every articulation consists of two parts, a close position and an opening action. Final articulations are not completed till the organs are separated.
28. Distinct and graceful utterance requires a downward action of the lower jaw. In other words, an opening of the mouth should precede consonant formation, and accompany vowel utterance.
29. During the pauses in speech, the processes of vocal action should be thus regulated :
First Position- A slight separation of the lips and teeth, accompanied
by inhalation of breath.