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248. Force considers sounds with respect to their degrees of loudness or softness: those sounds are called loud, which are made with greater respiratory and vocal effort than the ordinary tones of conversation; and those are called soft, which are made with less.
249. The following musical notation may be employed to express the principal degrees of Force :—
ppp. as soft as possible. pp. very soft.
mp. middlingly soft.
m. middle tone.
mf. middlingly loud.
ff. very loud.
fff. as loud as possible.
250. No direction can be given for the regular employment of these various degrees: their use is dependent on the meaning of the words spoken the situation of the supposed speaker-the relative positions and distances of the speaker and auditor-and, principally, on taste and judgment.
251. With the exception of the forzanda, or abrupt stress on a word or syllable, the degrees of Force are principally employed upon clauses or sentences.
252. The reader is referred to previous directions for the management of the voice (page 21). He is again reminded that he can never speak naturally on an unnatural key. In public addresses, even in the largest edifice, he ought not to depart from that tone of voice which is usual to him, but simply add to it any necessary degree of force to make it audible. It is extremely difficult to change the pitch of a discourse from high to low, although the reverse may be done with facility. Every sentence should be commenced and concluded on the NATURAL TONE of voice, strengthened to any audibility that circumstances may require.
253. Time treats of sounds with respect to their various degrees of rapidity or slowness. The following notation may be employed to express the principal varieties:
adagio, very slow. andante, middle degree. allegro, quick.
presto, very quick.
staccato, successive, sharp, distinct tones. sostenuto, successive tones blended.
retard, slackening the time.
accelerando, quickening the time.
254. Solemn discourse requires a very slow movement (adagio). Simple narrative, a medium rate of utterance (andante). Animated description, as well as all language expressive of quick or sudden passion, a rapid rate of utterance (allegro or presto), varying with the intensity of the emotion. Clauses or sentences which are very emphatic should be pronounced in small and distinct emphatic portions (staccato-sec. 231). Clauses or sentences which convey a flow of uniform meaning should have a uniform flow of sound (sost). Passages
introductory to those which are slow or rapid, should be gradually introduced with the proper degrees of Time (retard and accel.)
255. No reader should endeavour to speak more rapidly than an intelligent person, well informed on the subject, and prepared to communicate his thoughts, could compose the subject of discourse. Note. That division of Time which treats of Rhetorical Punctuation has been considered in a previous page.-Sections 115-128, page 37.
TIME OF POETRY.
256. In addition to the above varieties of Time, there is, in Poetry, and in harmonious Prose, another variety, dependent on rhythmical structure. It is caused by an alternation of strong and weak efforts of voice, occurring at regular intervals, and distinguishing this species of composition from ordinary prose. Not only do the prosodial names for the various measures of Verse convey no just idea of its structure, but the accentuation of the English language does not permit the division of its metres into long and short syllables. All English verse is constructed, and must be pronounced, with a regular succession and alternation of HEAVY and LIGHT syllables, in dissyllabic or trisyllabic measures. The sense always determines the accented syllable, and no light syllable should be made heavy merely for the sake of euphony. The principle of this rhythmical admeasurement may be thus explained.
257. No heavy sounds can successively follow each other without a slight intervening pause, the time of which might serve as the basis of another syllable;* thus
An unaccented syllable might be inserted without adding to the time of the measure, and without requiring, in consecutive utterance, any intervening pause; thus
Or two unaccented syllables may be inserted, so that they occupy only the time of one; thus
258. The natural order of verse, and of its harmonious pronunciation, is from pulsation to remission-that is, from heavy to light. Every bar must be commenced with a heavy syllable; and two heavy syllables cannot be contained in one measure.
Immortal | Nature | lifts her | changeful | form
*The heavy syllable is marked thus (A); the light (...), or when two light syllables occur (...). The bar-measurer is denoted by a vertical line, thus (), and is used to separate the various bars. An omitted heavy syllable is marked thus (); an omitted light syllable thus ( o ).
256. Common measure () consists of one portion of sound beginthat is, of one accented followed by an
ning heavy and ending light unaccented syllable; thus
257. Triple measure () consists of one heavy followed by two light syllables; thus
The princes applaud with a furious joy
A O O
And the king seized a flambeau with zeal to destroy
A .... Δ Oo
258. Variety is introduced by blending Common with Triple Measures, and by introducing Imperfect Measures. In the last, pauses must make up the time which the full measure requires;* for pause is as much an element of rhythm as sound. Rhythm in music never stops; but regulated pause is an essential part of it. Did not the uniformity of sound that is heard in rhyme determine the line, the ear should not, by the judicious reader, discover its periodic termination.
259. Frequently, on important words, the heavy and light percussion of voice may take place on one syllable; the time of the simple sound being, as it were, extended, and distinguished by a connected swell and fall; as
When, in poetry, the accurate conveyance of sense to an auditor requires rhetorical punctuation, the pauses must occupy the full time of the regular measure; that is, every heavy syllable must be followed, on the same impulse of voice, by a light syllable, or the time of one; and every light syllable must be preceded by a heavy syllable, or a pause must make up the time of the omitted syllable.
260. The number of measures in a line, either caused by sound or pause, is immaterial, so that the TIME of each is regularly preserved.* The prosodial mode of scanning reduces all poetry to the same humdrum canter; whereas, the accentual mode constantly varies with, and accommodates itself to, the sense in every structure of verse, and is a certain mode of attaining a musical and expressive pronunciation. Based on the natural principle of pulsation and remission, which regulates all physical motion and action, it is applicable to all speech; "and although it stops the finger of the foot-counting pedant, it satisfies the ear of the intelligent philosopher."
261. By attention too to this accentual structure of verse, the monstrosities of prosody are removed, and language restored to its natural order and proper proportions. False accents, elisions, and contractions of words may thus be avoided, and each syllable have its distinct proportionate musical sound. Such words as th' Eternal, for the Eternal; dang'rous, for dangerous; t'inspect, for to inspect; and all those crabbed expedients to which prosodians resort, must, by this inartificial process, disappear. For instance, the prosodial scanning of the following lines runs thus
Fălse él | Ŏquence | like the | prismāt | ĭc glāss | Its gaudy cōl | ŏŭrs sprēāds | Ŏn év | 'rý plāce | According to rhythmical accentuation, the lines should be thus measured_
Or the line, as printed in the various editions of Milton
By pray'r❘ th' offen | děd Dē | ĭtỹ | ť ǎppease |
Which should be pronounced as if marked thus—
By prayer the offended | Deity
*Pauses and Emphasis may indefinitely increase the number, but should never destroy the relative proportions, of the cadences.
Such is a brief outline of the principles of Vocal Delivery: the Second Part is appropriated to Gesture and Motion.
Speech and Action are merely mechanical, unless the mind imparts its vivifying spirit to both. The uniformity of rules is incompatible with the language of the passions: their expression, in combination with articulative distinctness, is the height of oratory. "Inflexion is merely the outline of Eloquence. Feeling and Passion fill up the picture; and to these alone must be attributed that variety which adorns and renders speech impressive."* The briefest practical direction in our treatises on Elocution is "BE IN EARNEST;" but feeling is so apt to be obscured either by habitual neglect of expression, or by frigid conventionality, that the direction should be thus modified"APPEAR TO BE IN EARNEST.
EXPRESSIVE MANAGEMENT OF THE BODY.
PRINCIPLES OF GESTURE:-ATTITUDE AND MOTION.
"Let every one strive to become acquainted with his own abilities; and, in order to form his action, let him less consult precept than his natural disposition."-QUINTILIAN.
1. GESTURE is the art of expressing Mental Emotions by the action or disposition of the Body. It has been justly called the language of Nature, to distinguish it from the arbitrary and more limited language of Speech.
Gesture, in connexion with Speech, may be considered with respect to Grace, Expression, Time, Frequency, Uniformity, Transition, and Accompaniment.
2. GRACE OF GESTURE has, for its constituent parts, simplicity, smoothness, and variety. Grace does not consist in attitude, but in motion; in the changing from one position to another in the free and untrammelled movements of the limbs, added to general symmetry and harmony. The most awkward person may produce expressive action; but rigidity of muscle-bodily infirmity or defect-restraint of body or mind, will completely destroy graceful motion. Grace, according to Hogarth,† consists in moving the limbs according to a curved line which he has denominated the Line of Beauty. The opposite of Grace is Rigidity, which is always exhibited in straight lines.
3. Grace in action is to be acquired by keeping the body, its limbs and muscles, in a state of upright ease and freedom: the MIND must be equally untrammelled; for any restraint on it, whether arising from uncertainty, bashfulness, or timidity, is prejudicial to freedom. 4. Grace is also seen in variety of motion; for the eye is as much offended with a sameness in position, as the ear with an unvaried note in speech; but Rest is as necessary as Action to beget variety. Plain space constitutes much of beauty in form; and Cessation of Movement is an agreeable contrast to Gesture. The frequency of
* Practical Elocutionist, by Professor Bell, London, p. 26.
+Analysis of Beauty.