ページの画像
PDF
ePub

the purposes of study and practice, the following general principles and suggestions may prove helpful.

a. In the expression of earnestness and strong conviction, of heroic and martial moods, of emotions, of wonder, awe Vand reverence, and deep solemnity, the utterance is marked by firm, strong strokes of the voice on the accented vowels. As speech becomes fraught with feeling it naturally increases in intensity, but not necessarily in loudness. This quiet, impressive style is exemplified in the utterance of the best speakers of our time. Loudness, rant, and forced declamation are not highly effective with listeners who know the difference between clear and earnest expression and pretentious noise. The sane and convincing speaker does not shout at the top of his voice, “Come, let us reason together!” Nor does he bawl out his reasoning or bellow his sentiments. The dignity, beauty, and power of the closing sentences from Webster's Reply to Hayne are best expressed, not by loudness, but by the sustained, firm, vibrant tone consistent with their elevated thought and deep feeling.

While the Union lasts, we have high, exciting, gratifying prospects spread out before us, for us and our children. Beyond that I seek not to penetrate the veil.

God grant that, in my day, at least, that curtain may not rise! God grant, that on my vision never may

be opened what lies behind! When my eyes shall be turned to behold, for the last time, the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious Union ; on States dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood! Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather behold the gorgeous ensign of the republic, now known and honored throughout the earth, still full highwadvanced, its arms and trophies streaming in their original lustre, not a stripe erased or polluted, nor a single star obscured bearing for its motto no such miserable interrogatory as What is all this worth ? nor those other words of delusion and folly, “Liberty first, and Union afterwards” – but everywhere, spread all over in characters of

living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment, dear to every true American heart - Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable.

6. In voicing the gentler emotions and sentiments of 2. tenderness, love, resignation, peace, tranquillity, and enjoyment of the beautiful, the tone is naturally quiet, not weak or lifeless, but at once subdued and intense.1

I know not what the future hath

Of marvel or surprise,
Assured alone that life and death

His mercy-anderlies.

I know not where His islands lift

I know not where His islands

; I only know I cannot drift Beyond His love and care.

Whittier: The Eternal Goodness.

c. Ordinary conversation and quiet discussion, and, indeed, all grave and thoughtful speech in which the emotions exert no great influence, are characterized by a moderate degree of vocal force. In such reading and speaking, the chief purpose of which is to give information and communicate ideas, one should be careful to avoid two prevalent faults. One is a lax, careless, repressed utterance which renders speech indistinct and listening difficult; the other is undue loudness of voice, as if all listeners were deaf and must be shouted at. A well-modulated voice is a mark of

1 It is difficult to make clear in writing the distinction between quiet, intense tones, and weak ones. But every one recognizes the difference between the soft, ardent voice of a loving mother in speaking to her child, and the flat, lifeless tone of the inefficient salesman who has been discharged and is serving his last day behind the counter and does not care whether he makes sales or not. Both may speak with the same degree of loudness, yet the tone of one pleases and attracts, the other repels; one is vibrant with emotional energy, the other is the result of mere physical effort sufficient to make the sound.

to any

refinement, self-control, and regard for others. The considerate person neither roars like a lion nor aggravates his voice as “ 't were any nightingale,” but speaks with volume sufficient to make his words easily audible. The golden rule applies as well in conversation and common reading as

other action affecting others. Read the following quotation, using a moderate degree of volume and making speech conversational, clear, and agreeable to the ear.

Certain physiologists are now telling us that the poetic praise of wine is based upon a mistake. Alcohol, they say, is not a stimulant but a depressant. It does not stimulate the imagination so much as it depresses the critical faculty so that dullness may easily pass for wit. An idea will occur to a sober man as being rather bright, but before he has time to express it he sees that it is not so. Under the inhibition of good sense he holds his tongue and saves his reputation. But in convivial company the inhibition is removed. Everybody says whatever is uppermost in his mind. The mice play, not because they are more lively than before, but only because the cat is away.

Crothers: A Community of Humorists. d. Spirited, happy, and playful thoughts and moods, and light, rapid action are usually expressed with light (not weak) strokes of the voice. This will be evident if such lines as follow are read aloud with spirit.

There's a dance of leaves in that aspen bower,
There's a titter of winds in that beechen tree,
There's a smile on the fruit, and a smile on the flower,
And a laugh from the brook that runs to the sea.

Bryant: The Gladness of Nature.

A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match.

Browning: Meeting at Night. e. When one speaks under conditions of intense excitement or in moments of triumph or strenuous action, or to

persons a long way off, the voice is sometimes used to the
full measure of its power. In the interpretation of literature
all degrees of vocal energy are required, and, while the
voice is seldom taxed to its full capacity, the reader and
speaker should have command of power when it is needed.1
Try the appended illustrations a good many times, taking
and holding a full breath and uttering the words with
clear, strong tones, and increasing the volume a little with
each repetition.
Hurrah! hurrah! a single field hath turned the chance of war!
Hurrah! hurrah! for Ivry and King Henry of Navarre !

Macaulay: The Battle of Ivry.

“Come back, come back, Horatius !

Loud cried the Fathers all;
“ Back, Lartius ! back, Herminius!
Back, ere the ruin fall!”

Macaulay: Horatius at the Bridge.

[ocr errors]

2. Duration. The term “duration” refers to the time y given to the utterance of vowel sounds, and chiefly those vowels which receive some degree of accent. It is obvious that the length of time given to the vowels, together with pauses, determines the general rate of utterance of a passage.

a, Thoughts of profound significance, which inspire wonder or awe or reverence and stir feeling strongly and deeply, tend to prolong the sounding of the vowels. Note how the dignity and strength of thought and feeling of the passage quoted below are expressed by firm and measured utter

[ocr errors]

ance:

1 Practice for vocal power helps to strengthen the breathing and gives vol-' ume, fullness, and roundness to tone, but such exercise should be carefully done and should not be too long continued, else more harm than good may result and the voice be seriously impaired. Yelling at a football game can hardly be commended as a vocal exercise.

For tho' the Giant Ages heave the hill
And break the shore, and evermore
Make and break, and work their will,
Tho' world on world in myriad myriads roll
Round us, each with different powers,
And other forms of life than ours,
What know we greater than the soul ?

On God and Godlike men we build our trust. Tennyson : Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington. 6. In reading or speaking thoughts of a grave or serious nature, the appeal of which is, however, rather to the understanding than the emotions, the tones are neither greatly prolonged nor shortened, but are of medium or average duration. This is true of most reading done for information, and the common reading of magazine articles, stories, and the like.1

Read aloud the following paragraph of common prose with special care to give the vowels their due quantity, or amount of time, without drawling them on the one hand, or, on the other, clipping them so short as to make them indistinct, or eliding them altogether.

One of the most striking passages in modern literature is the paragraph in Mr. Spencer's First Principles, in which he describes the rhythm of motion. Motion, he says, though it seems to be continuous and steady, is in fact pulsating, undulatory, rhythmic. There is everywhere intermittent action and rest. The flag blown by the breeze floats out in undulations; then the branches oscil

1 In this kind of reading there is a strong tendency to attain speed at the expense of distinctness, pleasant variety, and natural expressiveness. No more important problem presents itself in the study of reading aloud than that of common, everyday reading. The ability and habit of reading distinctly, pleasantly, and well whatever comes into one's hand is a rare accomplishment, yet one which a little care and practice will bring. Let it be remembered that the purpose of reading aloud is to communicate ideas, not to get over a certain number of words a minute. No prizes are offered for speed in reading aloud. Even though the subject matter is of casual interest only, there is no excuse for careless, blurred, mumbled, jumbled, or monotonous reading, which taxes the listener and renders listening difficult. Anything that is worth reading at all is at least worth reading distinctly and clearly.

« 前へ次へ »