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LESSON LIX

All sounds are either tones or noises; that is they are either musical and pleasant, or rough and harsh. Tones, or musical sounds, will travel a long way; noises shatter and soon fall to pieces. If you rose above a fair-ground in an aeroplane, the noise and clatter, which drowned out the music, would die away as you rose higher, and the pure musical tones of the violin would still be heard long after the noises had faded into silence.

When you enter a large hall and someone is speaking, the first thing you notice about his voice is whether it can be heard easily; whether it has what is called “carrying power” or “penetrating power.” This does not depend wholly upon force or loudness of voice, any more than throwing a ball to a certain spot depends merely on the force used. Of course, you must use some force, but it takes also the skill that comes from long practice. The speaker must know how to aim his tones, and reach this or that person as he desires; not by sweeping his words out fiercely, but rather by thinking of the exact spot where he wants to drop them gently. Byron W. King says very suggestively: “The proper sensation when making the best tones for speaking, is that of drawing the sound into the throat—not of forcing out, as is the prevailing theory. The proper sensation is as swallowing. Do not try to throw the voice to a certain point or person; rather try to draw it from that point to you.”

This penetrating, or carrying power, or reach of voice, depends largely (1) on how musical your words are; on whether you have by persistent practice formed the habit of making every vowel a pure tone,—clear, open, resonant, bell-like (not breathy, nor nasal, nor throaty, nor snipped off before it is fully formed); and (2) on how accurately, and distinctly, and delicately you articulate the consonants. (See exercises 31 and 38.)

Sound fully and purely the vowel sounds in Tennyson's epitaph on Sir John Franklin who was lost in the Arctic regions while searching for the North Pole.

Not here! The white north has his bones;
And thou, heroic sailor soul,

Art passing on o, happier voyage now,
Toward no earthly pole.

and these that Shakespeare put into the mouth of Cassius:

Age, thou art shamed!
Rome, thou hast lost the breed of noble bloods!
When went there by an age, since the great flood,
But it was famed with more than with one man!

By careful observation you may notice that every tone has three properties, (which you can think of apart, though they are in fact all fused together). 1. Force, or loudness, or pressure. 2. Pitch, higher or lower on the musical scale. 3. Quality, or tone-color, or texture of tone. The voice may vary through a very wide range, depending in actual use, of course, upon the meaning and feelings of the speaker. A word should be said even in an elementary textbook, about the melodies of speech. These are not so noticeable as the melodies of song, because in singing we hold the tones a definite time at each interval of pitch, while speaking, the notes are not held, but are allowed to vanish. So while song is a series of tones, speech is a series of vanishes. But if while you are speaking, you hold a tone here and there, that is, prohong it till you notice the pitch instead of letting it vanish, you will notice that in ordinary free conversation there is a very wide interval between the highest and lowest pitch used, often more than an octave. When excited, or embarassed, the intervals are closer and sometimes become almost a monotone. One of the secrets of effective speaking, pleasant to the audience and easy for the speaker, is to use these wide conversational melodies all the time, whether you are talking to an audience of three or three hundred. If you do not constantly test yourself by saying the sentences as if to one or two hearers, you are likely to “roll it off” in a so-called oratorical tone, which swings up and down with as little variation as a merry-go-round.

LESSON LX

It will perhaps be helpful to consider the matter of Criticism. Some people confuse criticism with censure, but a critic is not merely censorious, when he judges. He appreciates the good as much as he rejects the bad. Criticism should always be constructive. Its purpose is to help people towards improvement, and it is impossible to help people without encouraging them. For criticising one's own work, and observing the speaking of others, a chart or outline is convenient. It helps to keep in mind the whole field, when otherwise some important parts of it might be overlooked. I. General Impression. 1. The speaker's personality— Can he be heard easily? Does he command your respect, or is he selfconscious, conceited, woodeny, weak? Does he win your liking? Natural or affected? 2. His interest in his subject— Has he mastered it, or is his knowledge shallow? Is he so interested in his subject as to forget himSelf? 3. Has he pleasure in meeting his hearers? Is he hearty? or cold and half indifferent? II. Mastery of His Instrument. Feet Attitudes—free? expressive? consistent? Gesticulation—unobtrusive? significant? Voice—Strong? clear and resonant? well aimed? Distinct articulation? Pure, or nasal? hard and throaty? muffled? lip-lazy? high pitch? too loud? thin? Has he conversational melodies? III. His Interpretation. Does he group well? or crowd his words raggedly? Does he subordinate lesser things to the main thought? Do his inflections show accurate thought? Is his thinking alive while speaking? or memorized and rattled Off?

Does he speak with feeling, or as if it was all multi-
plication table?

Does he enter into varied emotions?
Is his emotion genuine?
Is his expression of emotion delicate, or “laid on
with a trowel?” -

Does he use enough force or pressure? too much?

. Does he “bull-doze” the hearers?

SOME PRIVATE SUGGESTIONS

Be in Earnest, have a clear conception of your subject, dwell on it in private till it kindles your imagination deeply and stirs your feeling. Do not speak till you have a strong desire to make your hearers see it and feel it as you do. Dr. Nehemiah Boynton says the three essential elements of speech are Point, Picture, Passion. Similar qualities have been suggested in Proving, Painting, Persuading. Keep the mouth shut, and breathe through the nose. Do not be afraid of fresh air. Use plenty of cold water on the throat morning and night; drink plenty of cold water night and morning. Do not suck a lemon before speaking, the acid will cut the phlegm, but it puckers the mucous lining of the pharynx. Do not cough; inhale and moisten the throat with saliva. Never use sprays or atomizers in nose and throat. Sore Throat. Follicular Pharyngitis (sometimes called clergymen's sore throat) is not caused by catching cold, but by wrong use of the voice. The neck muscles which should be relaxed, are contracted and thus compress the pharynx and strain the larynx. The speaker first notices a dryness of the pharynx, then perhaps huskiness and a slight coughing. Later the mucous lining may have follicles or even small ulcers. Do not swab the throat or take cough drops, but consult a skilful physician, though he cannot cure your bad method of speaking. As soon as the congestion is relieved, practice the voice building exercises (numbers 5 to 20). Nasality. The sounds “m,” “n,” and “ng” should go through the nose, other sounds should not. Hold the nose and say words in which “m,” “n,” and “ng” do not occur; if there is no nasality the sound will be clear and correct. In speakers afflicted with this unpleasant habit, the soft palate and uvula falls down upon the back of the tongue. To overcome nasal utterance, Warman says: strengthen the “pillars” supporting the soft palate, by holding the nose and practising short sentences with no sounds of “m,” “n,” or “ng.” Aim the tone at the far corner of the room.

Art thou ready. Take the boy.

Go, false fugitive, arise, away!

How precious are thy thoughts O Lord! and Seiler advises: Pronounce open vowels like “ah” and “Oh,” with the consonants that are formed farthest forward in the mouth.

(See especially exercises 33, 36, and 38.) Bell says: Sound the consonants “mb” without separating the lips, as in pronouncing the word “ember.” The change from “m” to “b” is nothing more than the covering of the nasal aperture by the soft palate; and the change from “b” to “m,” without separating the lips, as in the word “submit,” is merely the uncovering of the nasal aperture.

All these suggestions are excellent. Persons subject to Catarrh will find it more difficult to overcome nasality than those with healthy organs. But these exercises will Overcome it, and perhaps cure the catarrh. Stammering. Breathe deeply and quietly. Be calm and

unhurried. Have each thought vividly in mind before beginning the sentence. If your tongue balks on a word, do not try to force it, but express the thought in other words. Practice especially exercises 5 to 20, and 30 to 33.

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