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Grave and Impressive Thought.
("Pure tone": "Moderate" force: "Unimpassioned radical" and moderate "median stress.")
"Now comes the autumn of life, — the season of the sere and yellow leaf.' The suppleness and mobility of the limbs diminish; the senses are less acute; and the impressions of external objects are less remarked. The fibres of the body grow more rigid; the emotions of the mind are more calm and uniform; the eye loses its lustrous keeness of expression. The mind no longer roams abroad with its original excursiveness the power of imagination is, in great degree, lost. Experience has robbed external objects of their illusiveness: the thoughts come home: it is the age of reflection. It is the period in which we receive the just tribute of veneration and confidence from our fellow-men, if we have so lived as to deserve it, and are entitled to the respect and confidence of the younger part of mankind, in exact proportion to the manner in which our own youth has been spent, and our maturity improved."
Grave, Authoritative Manner.
("Expulsive orotund: ""Declamatory" force: Firm "median stress.")
Cato, [in reply to Cæsar's message through Decius.]
Restore the commonwealth to liberty,
Very Low" Pitch.
This designation applies to the notes of those emotions which are of the deepest character, and which are accordingly associated with the deepest utterance. These are, chiefly, the following: deep solemnity, awe, amazement, horror, despair, melancholy, and deep grief.
The exceedingly "low pitch" of these and similar states of feeling, is one of those universal facts which necessarily become laws of vocal expression, and, consequently indispensable rules of elocution. Any passage strongly marked by the language of one of these emotions, becomes utterly inexpressive without its appropriate deep notes. Yet this fault is one of the most prevalent in reading, especially with youth. That absence of deep and powerful emotion of an expressive character and active tendency, which usually characterizes the habits of the student's life, often leaves a great deficiency in this element of vocal effect, even in individuals who habitually drop into the fault of a slackness of organic action which causes too low a pitch in serious or in grave style. The " very low" pitch is not a mere accidental or mechanical result it requires the aid of the will, and a special exertion of organ, to produce it.
This lowest form of pitch is one of the most impressive means of powerful natural effect, in the utterance of all · deep and impressive emotions. The pervading and absorbing effect of awe, amazement, horror, or any similar feeling, can never be produced without low pitch and deep successive notes; and the depth and reality of such emotions are always in proportion to the depth of voice with which they are uttered. The grandest descriptions in the Paradise Lost, and the profoundest meditations in the Night Thoughts, become trivial in their effect on the ear, when read with the ineffectual expression inseparable from the pitch of ordinary conversation or discourse.
The vocal deficiency which limits the range of expression to the middle and higher notes of the scale, is not, by any means, the unavoidable and necessary fault of organization, as it is so generally supposed to be. Habit is in this, as in so many other things, the cause of defect. There is truth, no doubt, in the remark so often made in defence of a high
and feeble voice, that it is natural to the individual, or that it is difficult for some readers to attain to depth of voice without incurring a false and forced style of utterance. But, in most cases, it is habit, not organization, that has made certain notes natural or unnatural, in other words, familiar to the ear, or the reverse. The neglect of the lower notes of the scale, and, consequently, of the organic action by which they are produced, may render a deeptoned utterance less easy than it would otherwise be. But most teachers of elocution are, from day to day, witnesses to the fact, that students, from the neglect of muscular action, and from all the other enfeebling causes involved in sedentary habits and intellectual application, sometimes commence a course of practice, with a high-pitched, thin, and feminine voice, which seems at first incapable of expressing a grave or manly sentiment, and, in some instances, appears to forbid the individual from ever attempting the utterance of a solemn thought, lest his treble tone should make the effect ridiculous; but that a few weeks' practice of vocal exercise on bass notes and deep emotions, as imbodied in rightly selected exercises, often enables such readers to acquire a round and deep-toned utterance, adequate to the fullest effects of impressive eloquence.
The exercise of singing bass, if cultivated as an habitual practice, has a great effect in imparting command of deeptoned expression, in reading and speaking. Reading and reciting passages from Milton and from Young, and particularly from the Book of Psalms, or from hymns of a deeply solemn character, are exercises of great value for securing the command of the lower notes of the voice.
The practice of the following examples should be accompanied by copious exercises on the elements, and on words selected for the purpose. These exercises should be repeated till the student can, at any moment, strike the appropriate note of awe or solemnity with as much certainty as the vocalist can execute any note of the scale.
EXAMPLES OF VERY LOW PITCH.
Deep Solemnity, Sublimity, and Awe.
("Effusive and Expulsive orotund "
"It must be so:
"Subdued and Sup
· Plato, thou reasonest well!
Else, whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
Or whence this secret dread, and inward horror,
'Tis the Divinity that stirs within us :
Eternity! - thou pleasing, dreadful thought!
Through what new scenes and changes must we pass !
'Awe, Dismay, and Despair.
("Aspirated pectoral Quality":"Suppressed" force: "Median stress.")
"At dead of night,
All that they touch, or taste, or breathe, is Death!"
Amazement and Horror.
("Aspirated pectoral Quality": "Impassioned" force: "Thorough stress.")
"What means that ruinous roar? — why fail
Precipitating domes, and towns, and towers, -
One common grave;
("Effusive orotund "
"Impassioned" force: "Vanishing stress.")
"War, famine, pest, volcano, storm, and fire, Intestine broils, Oppression, with her heart Wrapped up in triple brass, besiege mankind. God's image, disinherited of day,
Here, plunged in mines, forgets a sun was made:
On hopeless multitudes remorseless seize
("Effusive expulsive orotund: " "Impassioned" and "subdued" force: "Vanishing" and "median stress.")
"In every varied posture, place, and hour,