Page images


PITCH OF VOICE has reference to its degree of elevation.

Every person, in reading or speaking, assumes a certain pitch, which may be either high or low, according to circumstances, and which has a governing influence on the variations of the voice, above and below it. This degree of elevation is usually called the KEY NOTE.

As an exercise in varying the voice in pitch, the practice of uttering a sentence on the several degrees of elevation, as represented in the following scale, will be found beneficial. First, utter the musical syllables, then the vowel sound, and lastly, the proposed sentence,-ascending and descending,

-8.-do--e-in-me.-Virtue alone survives.

7. si ⚫i in die. Virtue alone survives.
-6.—la—0—0-in-do.-Virtue alone survives.--
5. sol. o in no. Virtue alone survives
-4.-fa -a-in-at.-Virtue alone survives.-
a in ate. Virtue alone survives.
-a-in-far.-Virtue alone survives.
Virtue alone survives.

3. mi
1. do

a in all.

Although the voice is capable of as many variations in speaking, as are marked on the musical scale, yet for all the purposes of ordinary elocution, it will be sufficiently exact if we make but three degrees of variation, viz., the Low, the Middle, and the High.

1. THE LOW PITCH is that which falls below the usual speaking key, and is employed in expressing emotions of sublimity, awe, and reverence.


Silence, how dead! darkness, how profound!
Nor eye, nor list'ning ear, an object finds;
Creation sleeps. 'Tis as the general pulse
Of life stood still, and Nature made a pause,-
An awful pause! prophetic of her end.


2. THE MIDDLE PITCH is that usually employed in common conversation, and in expressing unimpassioned thought and moderate emotion.


1. It was early in a summer morning, when the air was cool, the earth moist, the whole face of the creation fresh and gay, that I lately walked in a beautiful flower garden, and, at once, regaled the senses and indulged the fancy.


"I love to live," said a prattling boy,

As he gayly played with his new-bought toy,

And a merry laugh went echoing forth,

From a bosom filled with joyous mirth.


3. THE HIGH PITCH is that which rises above the usual speaking key, and is used in expressing joyous and elevated feelings.


Higher, higher, EVER HIGHER, —
Let the watchword be "ASPIRE!"
Noble Christian youth;
Whatsoe'er be God's behest,
Try to do that duty best,

In the strength of Truth.



QUANTITY is two-fold ;-consisting in FULLNESS or VOLUME of sound, as soft or loud; and in TIME, as slow or quick. The former has reference to STRESS; the latter, to MOVEMENT.

The degrees of variation in quantity are numerous, varying from a slight, soft whisper to a vehement shout. But for all practical purposes, they may be considered as three, the same as in pitch ;-the soft, the middle, and the loud.

For exercise in quantity, let the pupil read any sentence, as,

"Beauty is a fading flower,"

first in a slight, soft tone, and then repeat it, gradually increasing in quantity to the full extent of the voice. Also, let him read it first very slowly, and then repeat it gradually increasing the movement. In doing this, he should be careful not to vary the pitch.

In like manner, let him repeat any vowel sound, or all of them, and also inversely. Thus:

REMARK.-Quantity is often mistaken for Pitch. But it should be borne in mind that quantity has reference to loudness or volume of sound, and pitch to the elevation or depression of a tone. The difference may be distinguished by the slight and heavy strokes on a bell:—both of which produce sounds alike in pitch; but they differ in quantity or loudness, in proportion as the strokes are light or heavy.


from a

1. SOFT, OR SUBDUED TONES, are those which range whisper to a complete vocality, and are used to express fear, caution, secrecy, solemnity, and all tender emotions.

[blocks in formation]

2. A MIDDLE TONE, or medium loudness of voice, is employed in reading narrative, descriptive, or didactic sentences.


I love my country's pine-clad hills,
Her thousand bright and gushing rills,
Her sunshine and her storms;
Her rough and rugged rocks that rear
Their hoary heads high in the air,

In wild fantastic forms.

3. A LOUD TONE, or fullness and stress of voice is used in expressing violent passions and vehement emotions.




STAND! the ground's your own, my braves,—

Will ye give it up to slaves?

Will ye look for greener graves?
Hope ye mercy still?

What's the mercy despots feel?
Hear it in that battle-peal,-

Read it on yon bristling steel,—

Ask it-ye who will!


"HOLD!" Tyranny cries; but their resolute breath
Sends back the reply: "INDEPENDENCE or DEATH!"


QUALITY has reference to the kind of sound uttered.

Two sounds may be alike in quantity and pitch, yet differ in quality. The sounds produced on the clarinet and flute, may agree in pitch and quantity, yet be unlike in quality. The same is true in regard to the tones of the voice of two individuals. This difference is occasioned mainly by the different positions of the vocal organs.

The qualities of voice mostly used in reading or speaking, and which should receive the highest degree of culture, are the Pure Tone, the Orotund, the Aspirated, and the Guttural.


1. THE PURE TONE is a clear, smooth, sonorous flow of sound, usually accompanied with the middle pitch of voice, and is adapted to express emotions of joy, cheerfulness, love, and tranquillity.


Hail! beauteous stranger of the wood,
Attendant on the spring,

Now heaven repairs thy vernal seat,

And woods thy welcome sing.

2. THE OROTUND is a full, deep, round, and pure tone of voice, peculiarly adapted in expressing sublime and pathetic



It thunders! Sons of dust, in reverence bow!
Ancient of Days! Thou speakest from above:
Almighty! trembling, like a timid child,

I hear thy awful voice. Alarmed-afraid-
I see the flashes of thy lightning wild,

And in the very grave would hide my head.

3. THE ASPIRATED TONE of voice is not a pure, vocal sound, but rather a forcible breathing utterance, and is used to express amazement, fear, terror, anger, revenge, remorse, and fervent emotions.


Oh, coward conscience, how dost thou affright me!
The lights burn blue. It is now dead midnight;
Cold, fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh.

4. THE GUTTURAL QUALITY is a deep, aspirated tone of voice, used to express aversion, hatred, loathing, and contempt.


Tell me I hate the bowl?

HATE is a feeble word:

I loathe, ABHOR, my very soul

With strong disgust is stirred,
Whene'er I see, or hear, or tell,
Of the dark beverage of hell.

« PreviousContinue »