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aspiring Hotspur, with a variation in the fourth line to low pitch for effect :
By heavens ! methinks it were an easy leap,
Low PITCH. This is requisite for the proper expression of deep-seated feel. ing; it is the tone of grief-brooding thought—very solemn reflection-melancholy-hate-remorse—and also, in its softest and deepest forms, of love and veneration. Take the following illustrations :
Now o'er the one-half world
Oh! now for ever,
Farewell! Othello's occupation's gone ! Among the other points on which it is important to be on your guard with your voice there is also this -never commence with the highest pitch of your voice. Many readers and speakers do so with the idea that it is needful to make themselves heard. This, however, is a grave mistake. One of the earliest pieces of advice on this point with which we became acquainted well
expresses the rule by which speakers should seek to be go verned :
When most impressed, be self-possessed. By this process you will see that you will be able to make the best use of your voice, and in no way mar its natural power or pliability ; whereas, if you begin at the highest pitch, how will it be possible to rise or fall with the necessity of the subject you have in hand ? It is much easier also to increase or raise the pitch of the voice than to lower it. It is a very good rule to look round the room in which you have to speak, and fix your eye upon some one in the farthest point, and then seek so to speak to him without raising your voice above the natural pitch. If needful, you may use extra force or loudness to make yourself heard, but do this without raising your voice to its highest pitch. By adopting this plan you will save yourself from any unnatural strain, and so prevent yourself from weakening or distressing your voice-or, what is worse, bringing on hoarseness, which means, in the long run, weakness and inability of
Many speakers and readers make great mistakes in attempting to regulate the pitch of their voice by that of some favourite speaker or reader. This must be guarded against, as the only safe rule is that which is suggested by the character and quality of each person's own voice. In this, as in singing, the standard must of necessity vary with each person. Each voice is its own index in pitch. The ability to control the pitch of the voice is one of the greatest accomplishments of elocution, and more public speakers and readers fail from inability to control the pitch of their voice than from any other cause.
Without the power to readily accommodate or change the voice to the key demanded by the emotion, or the subject, there can be no really impressive or natural speaking or reading. Speaking on this point, Blair says, “Nothing can be more ahsurd than to imagine that as soon as one mounts a pulpit, or rises to address a public assembly, he is instantly to lay aside his natural voice, and to assume
a new and studied tone, and a cadence altogether foreign to his natural manner. Walker also advises : “It ought to be a first principle with all public speakers and readers, rather to begin under the common level of their voice than above it. The attention of an audience at the commencement of a lecture or oration makes the softest accents of a speaker audible, at the same time that it affords a happy occasion for introducing a variety of voice, without which every address must soon tire.” It will, we think, be readily seen from these illustrations how much of the power of a reader or speaker depends upon the change and variation of the pitch of his voice. Consequently, the greater the facility with which he can make his transitions from pitch to pitch, the greater will be his probability of producing a good effect upon an audience, For it will soon be discovered by every thoughtful reader that in many of the best selections, especially those which may be called dramatic, there must of necessity be many very rapid transitions from high to low pitch, which will call forth the exercise of every variety of tone to ensure complete success. All this abundantly proves the importance of realising that it is possible to train the voice by care and practice to a high condition of power and usefulness.
2. BE CAREFUL TO ADAPT THE TONE OF YOUR VOICE to the various subjects, so as to make them harmonise. It must be self-evident to any thoughtful person that the tone of the voice must be altogether different during the delivery of a humorous piece like
One Biddy Brown, a country dame,
As 'tis by many told,
For she had caught a cold, when contrasted with a pathetic piece like that commencing with
We watched her breathing through the night,
Her breathing soft and low,
Kept heaving to and fro;
Quick ! man the lifeboat! See yon bark
That drives before the blast:
And the storm comes thick and fast.
Can human power, in such an hour,
Avert the doom that's o'er her ?
The lifeboat! Man the lifeboat!
And here it is needful also to add a word of caution.
Guard carefully against dropping into the song style of the schoolboy, especially when you are reading poetry. One has wisely said that the voice “can speak as gently as the lute," or “like the sweet south wind upon a bed of violets,” or shrilly as a trumpet; it can tune the silver sweet note of love, and the iron throat of war.” Such being the case, it will be seen that there is ample scope for the cultivation of its varied tones, and in this way to avoid a monotonous and forceless style, and also secure a pleasing, varied, but natural and unaffected tone of voice, which will be appropriate to the subject and the emotions and feelings which need to be excited or expressed. Another hint here may also be valuable. Cultivate the habit of opening your mouth well. This is essential if you wish your words to come out freely. Do not either speak through your teeth or through your nose. A nasal twang is always offensive, and is sure to be a hindrance in the
successful effort, while to mumble, or, as it is called, to "eat your words,” will also limit your power. If nature has blessed you with a good voice, be thankful for it and use it well. But remember, at the same time, a good voice can be greatly improved hy cultivation. This is always admitted to be the case by singers. Is it not equally true of readers or speakers ? By giving proper attention to the cultivation and management of the voice, a person who could not make himself heard distinctly, without difficulty or pain, by 500 persons, may be able, with comparative ease and comfort, to interest, edify, and please a thousand. Surely if this can be done it is worth an effort to attain it. It is related that the celebrated Mr. Fox, when asked on one occasion the secret of his success, replied that “he formed the resolution of speaking, ill or well, once every night. During five whole sessions,” he added, “ I spoke every night except one, and I only regret that I did not speak on that night too."
It is by such practice that effectiveness alone is secured. Self-reliance, readiness of expression, ease of manner, and the charm of the voice itself will never accomplish what is desired, without downright, hard, persevering PRACTICE.
3. On INFLECTIONS. — These consist of changes in the pitch of the voice, either upward or downward, and vary in degree according to the sentiments uttered. They are principally classified as the upward or rising, and the downward or falling, and they are manifested by the bending or sliding of the voice up or down, and in so doing marking the accent. The following will illustrate the
Must I observe you ?
All this ?-Aye, and more. No element is more important in utterance in giving signifi. cance to words than inflection. It is frequently absolutely needful to make the words intelligible. Indeed, it is the proper management of these that alone prevents monotony on the one hand, or chanting sing-song on the other. Besides these, we have frequently cases occurring where the rising is followed by the falling, or the falling followed with the rising combined. Indeed, in many instances, they will be found to vary in many