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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 to any 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. (4). (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,
Bryant: The Gladness of Nature.
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
Browning: Meeting at Night. 19). (When one speaks under conditions of intense excite, ment 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. I 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! hurrab! for Ivry and King Henry of Navarre !
Macaulay: The Battle of Ivry.
“ Come back, come back, Horatius!”
Loud cried the Fathers all;
Macaulay: Horatius at the Bridge. b. 2. Duration. The term “ duration” refers to the time 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. loja. 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 utterance :
1 Practice for vocal power helps to strengthen the breathing and gives volume, 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
On God and Godlike men we build our trust. Tennyson : Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington. 5). 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 oscillate; then the trees begin to sway; everywhere there is action and pause, the rhythm of motion.
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.
Peabody: Mornings in the College Chapel ("The Rhythm of Life"). 3. Animated, joyous, fanciful thoughts and moods, and gay, excited, or rapid action are naturally expressed by short vowel sounds, as illustrated in the subsequent examples.)
Puck. How now, spirit! whither wander you?
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
To dew her orbs upon the green.
Shakespeare: Midsummer Night's Dream, II, i. I sprang to the stirrup, and Joris, and he ; I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three; “Good Speed !” cried the watch, as the gate-bolts undrew ; “ Speed !” echoed the wall to us galloping through ; Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest, And into the midnight we galloped abreast.
Browning: How They Brought the Good News. 63. Stress. The word “stress” is used to indicate the way in which vocal energy is distributed over the vowels, or, in other words, the way the voice strikes them. The greatest vocal force falls, obviously, on accented vowels. But the chief part of this energy is not always expended on the same part of the vowel) For example, we do not say, " I'm sorry," with the same stress we should use in speaking a determined, or defiant, “I won't!” (The emotional import of the words, the speaker's relation to the thought, that is, his interest in and responsiveness to it, his motive in speaking, and his attitude toward those addressed, as well
as the circumstances under which he speaks, determine how
“Forward the light brigade !
Tennyson: Charge of the Light Brigade. Romans, countrymen, and lovers! hear me for my cause, and be silent, that you may hear; believe me for mine honor, and have respect to mine honor, that you may believe ; censure me in your wisdom, and awake your senses, that you may the better judge.
Shakespeare: Julius Cæsar, III, ii. (2) 6. Sometimes, in the expression of exalted emotions, as awe, admiration, wonder, and reverence, the vocal energy is most strongly applied to the middle of the vowel. This stress is called “median," and corresponds to the swell of tone in music. The difference between “ radical” and “ median” stress is obvious in the ardent “Rah! Rah! Rah!” of the college yell, and the long drawn out “Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!” of exultation and triumph.(Occasionally one hears the median stress in boastful, pompous, swaggering
“ of you or any
.”/The “median” stress prevails in many passages of Scripture, and in prose and poetry
1 In apathetic, indifferent reading, where the thought makes little impression on the reader and where he has slight purpose or desire to communicate it clearly or vigorously to others, there is little stress of any kind. When there is no definite purpose in speech there is little purposeful direction of vocal energy. A definite stroke of the voice on the vowels is always perceptible in elear, convincing, and persuasive speech.