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A PRACTICAL AND PHILOSOPHICAL TREATISE ON
VOCAL CULTURE, EMPHASIS AND GESTURE,
TOGETHER WITH HINTS FOR THE COMPOSITION OF ORATIONS AND
SELECTIONS FOR DECLAMATION AND READING.
DESIGNED AS A TEXT BOOK FOR SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES, AND FOR PUBLIC
SPEAKERS AND READERS WHO ARE OBLIGED TO STUDY
WITHOUT AN INSTRUCTOR.
By GEORGE L. RAYMOND, L.H.D.,
FORMERLY PROFESSOR OF ORATORY AND ÆSTHETIC CRITICISM, AND SUBSEQUENTLY OS
GENESIS OF ART FORM,” ETC.
FULLY REVISED WITH IMPORTANT ADDITIONS AFTER THE
G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS
1. This book has been prepared to supply a want felt by the authoz while giving instruction in his own classes, and felt, as he believes, by many overworked teachers who often, without making a specialty of elocution, desire to give efficient instruction in it, yet have no manual at hand enabling them to do this, without a great expenditure of time and trouble. It is intended to present, in concise and comprehensive form, some new material, the results of the author's own experience in teaching; but over and beyond this to be a compend, amply illustrated, of the best that has been published or taught on the subject of which it treats with each department of the art so described that its methods shall be distinctly apprehended, so explained that the principles underlying their use shall be easily understood, and so few that they can be readily applied.
2. In many of its features, Oratory resembles music. A man can no more declaim well who has not passed the point where he is obliged to exhaust his mental energy in calculating how to modulate his voice in his inflections, or to move his hands in his gestures, than he can sing or play well while his attention is constantly turning from his theme in order to think how he shall form his notes in his throat, or use his fingers upon his instrument. Such things as these, before his performance can be easy, natural, expressive and effective, must be done automatically, as a result of persistent practice. So in Oratory. Certain things must be done automatically; and that they may be done thus, and at the same time correctly, the student must begin by practicing according to methods very accurately described to him. This fact is a sufficient excuse for the minute and full directions contained in this book,—those, for instance, referring to the methods of using the lungs and throat, of starting and ending inflections, of moving and holding the arms and hands in the gestures, etc. It is thought that they will be found to be of exceptional value, not only to students of elocution, but also to teachers; and though it is not supposed that they can take the place of competent oral instruction, especially with those just entering
upon the study, yet they will fail of their object if they do not prove to be just what are needed by clergymen and other public speakers who, for any reason, are unable to obtain the services of an instructor.
3. But besides describing the elements of the art, and how to acquire facility in using them, a manual of this sort must direct the student when and where to use them. Elocution, like music, must deal with the great subject of expression. And here the important matter is to ground the principles presented not on the letter of passages but on their spirit; not on the phraseology but on the mind's attitude toward the phraseology, upon one's judgment of the thought that it contains, upon his motive in using it, and upon the degree of energy or kind of feeling which it awakens in him. In proportion as these requirements are met by the directions that are given him, a man may speak according to rule and yet maintain his individuality and freedom. His knowledge of the art of elocution will be merely a knowledge of the art of expressing, and of impressing on others, his own meanings, motives and feelings, He will be a master and not a slave of the rules that he follows.
4. Once more: any number of rules all of which must be applied with as little forethought as in speaking, must be few; otherwise the mind will be so burdened in trying to recall them that it will not be able to act readily in using them. Great pains bave been taken in this book, by means of classifications and diagrams, to reduce the general principles that need to be emphasized to a minimum ; but at the same time to make each of these so comprehensive that all of them together shall include a treatment of the whole subject.
5. On this point, - in trying to devise how the art may be taught and mastered with the least possible waste of time and labor, the author has expended no little thought. It is impossible to refer here to all the “short-cuts” that this book recommends. But as an aid to teachers who have not yet matured their courses of instruction, some suggestions based on his own experience and methods may not prove unacceptable.
6. With a class as a whole, it seems best to begin by teaching something about emphasis and gesture. The least experienced student can understand why these subjects need to be studied; but, as a rule, it is only after he has been led, through studying them, to realize the deficiencies in his own voice that he is prepared to devote him. self to vocal culture proper with the persistency that it demands. As an introduction to the general study, therefore, the author would recommend - and not only to teachers assigning lessons from this book, but also to those who are studying without a teacher — the use. of $ 201. The statements which will be found there, and which the instructor may easily explain and illustrate to his pupils, present in compact form about all the qualities of expression that successful oratory, however characteristic of individuals, universally possesses, and, by consequence, about all that it is safe to teach to a class as a whole. Aside from what this section contains, most of the instruction in emphasis must be given to individuals in private; otherwise some of the students, imagining themselves to be deficient in directions where they are not so, may be led to exaggerate excellencies that they have by nature, or to cultivate artificiality in a vain attempt to avoid supposed faults.
7. In addition to learning these general principles underlying emphasis, it is well also for the student, at the very beginning of his course, to be made acquainted with the meaning of the different gestures (S$ 172–175) each of which he should also be shown exactly how to make.
8. It is after this preliminary work that we come to our first real difficulty. In teaching any branch that partakes of the nature of art, it is not enough to explain how and why certain things should be done. The instructor or the pupil has to see to it that they are done. In other words, the pupil must drill himself or be drilled until it becomes a habit with him to do them instinctively, or until he gains such control of himself as to be able to do them voluntarily.
9. In attaining this end there seems to be no course so efficient as to assign, as a lesson, a marked passage (that in $ 209 has been used with satisfactory results, and there are twenty-five others among the SELECTIONS for DECLAMATION) and have pupils declaim it in private as many times as may be necessary in order to render their performance satisfactory. Out of a class numbering sixty or seventy, all but one or two, on their first appearance, will need to be corrected on every line ; but after the third or fourth attempt hardly one will have failed to acquire all that the exercise is designed to teach.
10. After this, when able to make at will the different kinds of inflections, etc., it is well to have students read passages illustrative