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INTRODUCTORY EXERCISES FOR THE VOICE.
Good Reading or Recitation implies the power of Modulation. Modulation is the art of regulating the voice. It implies—
I. Inflection, that is, moving the voice from a higher note
to a lower, and from a lower to a higher. II. Monotone, that is, sustaining the voice at the same
III. Emphasis, that is, laying force or stress upon particular
words. IV. Tone, that is, giving the voice greater or less compass,
more or less expression. V. Time, that is, reading with slower or more rapid utter
ance. VI. Pause, that is, stopping the voice at certain places for a
longer or shorter interval.
Unless the pupil can command his voice to a certain extent in these different ways, he cannot be expected to read effectively.
I. INFLECTION. Inflection is the name applied to the slides which the voice makes in going from a lower key to a higher, and from a higher to a lower. Some pupils distinguish these slides without any difficulty; with others considerable practice is necessary to enable them to do so. In the following table of
exercises, the voice rises at the first colunan, and falls at the second. The corresponding marks are given.
Reald. . Shall I si't ?
No, 'Sir. Is it true?
Perfectly true. Was he right?
Very much so'.
Does he write correctly or incorrec'tly?
Rules for inflection are only, in a few cases, to be regarded as absolute. Individual taste and judgment must decide, in general, where the voice is to rise or fall. Some of the leading canons may be noticed.
1. Let the voice fall at the semicolon and colon, but more decidedly at the end of a sentence.
II. Raise the voice (1.) between subject and predicate; (2.) between subordinate and principal sentences ; (3.) between the parts of an antithesis or contrast ; (4.) at the end of an interrogative sentence beginning with a verb ; (5.) at exclamations and echoes ; (6.) on the last of a series of words or subordinate sentences when it precedes the main statement, but on the second-last when it follows the main state. ment.
ΙΙ. ΜΟΝΟΤΟΝΕ. The pupil should next practise the sustaining of the voice at the same note. In some parts of the country, children read almost entirely upon the falling inflection; in other places the rising prevails. In the following exercises, let the voice be sustained throughout each sentence, falling only at the end.
EXERCISES. (1.) He who is self existent, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent, is likewise infinitely holy, just, and good. (2.) When we cast our eye over the broad sea, and look at the country on the other side, we see nothing but the blue land stretching obscurely over the distant horizon. (3.) Were he ever so benighted or forgetful of his high calling, there is always hope in a man that actually and earnestly works. (4.) The lofty vessel, as it retires from the coast, shrinks into littleness, and at last disappears in the form of a small speck on the verge of the horizon. (5.) I shall never forget the delightful sensation with which I exchanged the dark, smoky, smothering atmosphere of the Highland hut, in which we aad passed the night so uncomfortably, for the refreshing fragrance of the morning air.
As a general rule, sustain the voice at the comma, allowing, of course, for the exceptions referred to under Infection.
The Monotone is peculiar to poetry, and is very effective in sublime and solemn passages. We think the following reads better with the Monotone than with Inflection :
“ Of man's first disobedience and the fruit
Rose out of chaos.” Let the pupils be accustomed to repeat the Lord's Prayer, and other solemn passages, in the Monotone.
III. EMPHASIS. This element in Modulation is often absolutely necessary to bring out the sense of a statement,
EXERCISES. Place emphasis on the word in italics in each of the following sentences :
Did you give him that book ?
I gave him that book. Emphasis implies opposition. When I say, “They will come,” the emphatic will is given in opposition to the statement or opinion that they will not come. It follows, therefore, that words opposed to other words expressed or understuod, should be pronounced with emphasis.
IV. TONE. The regulation of the tone of the voice in reading or recitation is as difficult as it is important. Some passages require a low tone of voice; others a high tone. In many sentences the voice should be soft at the commencement, and swell gradually towards the conclusion. Then there are all the varieties of tone necessary to express the different shades of passion and emotion. A few of the simpler exercises are all that we purpose to give here.
The village smithy stands;
With large and sinewy hands;
Are strong as iron bands.