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Observe here the remarkable blending of light and shade and the minuteness of detail.
This picture has been an inspiration to generations of artists. 4. Imitative gestures.
He lifted his hand impressively in this way and the audience was thrilled.
It was a grotesque figure not more than so high.
It was a piece of ancient manuscript about so wide and so long, peculiarly inscribed.
After making many peculiar movements he crouched down thus, feebly extending his arms.
EXERCISE VIII. Practice gesture by the use of extracts from the speeches of great orators. Bits of famous eloquence furnish some of the most valuable material for gesture training. It is well to commit to memory notable passages from speeches of many of the great orators and make them available for gesture practice. The speeches of Henry W. Grady abound in word pictures, such as those quoted above under the head of suggestive gestures. They make a strong appeal to the imagination and are admirably suited for purposes of cultivating expressive gesture. The speeches of Robert G. Ingersoll furnish an abundance of similar material. The notable speeches of John M. Thurston, although of a very different nature, are equally excellent for this purpose. The student will be able to determine upon the material best suited to his needs by making himself conversant with the great orations of orators past and present.
The majority of students who elect courses in public speaking with the view to becoming effective speakers, if called upon to express an opinion in regard to the importance of breath control in their work, will say that they are taking public speaking to learn how to talk, not how to breathe, and are for the most part indifferent to the subject. It is usually not until the teacher has taken the pains to point out that there can be no effective use of the voice without proper breath control that the student manifests any interest whatever in the subject.
In a recent debate one of the speakers, who had spent several months in preparation for the occasion, had such imperfect use of his breath that at the end of his fifteenminute speech he became so hoarse that he was obliged to apologize to the audience for his "bad throat." Yet in the long course of his preparation it probably never occurred to the young man that the management of his breath would have anything to do with the effectiveness of his speech when the final test came.
Dr. Wesley Mills of McGill University, who has made a life study of the voice and is regarded as an authority upon the singing and the speaking voice, makes the following significant statement in regard to the importance of the breath in vocalization :
The more the writer knows of singers and speakers, the more deeply does he become convinced that singing and speaking may be resolved into the correct use of the breathing apparatus above all else. Not that this alone will suffice, but it is the most important, and determines more than any other factor the question of success and failure. Breathing is the keynote with which we must begin, and to which we must return again and again."
It is essential, therefore, that everyone who attempts to speak in public should know at least enough about the fundamental principles of the breath and its control to be able to use the correct method in his own work.
The nature of the vocal mechanism. The mechanism of the human voice may be said to constitute a wind instrument very similar in its construction to a pipe organ. The pipe organ has three essential parts — first, the reed which
vibrates and produces tone; second, the bellows which furnishes the stream of air that causes the vibration of the reed; third, the hollow pipe that reënforces the tone produced by the passage of the air through the reed. In the human vocal apparatus the vocal cords are the reeds or vibrating parts; the lungs, the bellows or motive parts ; and the trachea, together with the roof of the mouth and cavities of the head, the reënforcing or resonating parts.
Since the lungs receive the stream of breath and serve as reservoirs for it until it is sent forth to be converted into tone, they lie at the very foundation of all vocal processes. And the management of the breath as it is taken in and sent out from the lungs has more to do than any
other one thing with the clearness and effectiveness of the voice.
1 Mills, Voice Production in Speaking and Singing, p. 44.
The function of the ribs and muscles. The lungs are very elastic and, like the bellows of wind instruments, are capable of very marked expansion and contraction. They do not of themselves, however, furnish the motor power in the production of tone, but in performing their function are dependent upon the bones and muscles which surround them. The upper ribs, which are attached both to the spine and to the sternum, form a bony cage which completely surrounds the lungs, while at their base a very strong elastic muscle, the diaphragm, separates them from the abdominal cavity underneath. This muscular partition is arched across the body, with its concave surface downward, so that when it contracts it pushes against the stomach, liver, and intestines below, thus tending to form a cavity in the chest above and making room for the expansion of the lungs.
The ribs with their connecting muscles play a very important part in the breathing process. It is important to keep in mind the fact that the lungs are entirely passive in their action. It seems to be the idea of many people that the lungs are organs which are capable of functioning in some such manner as a strong muscle might do. This is not at all the case. They are exceedingly light and spongy substances that have no power of their own, but are merely agents, acting only as they are acted upon by the strong muscles and bony structure that surround them. It is these strong surrounding muscles and bony structures that are the real levers or power-producing instruments. When these levers act so as to increase the size of the chest, the air rushes into the lungs as it might into two flexible rubber bags, thus filling out the cavity that tends to be formed. Their action can be best underštood by remembering that they are perfectly limp, spongelike substances that serve merely as containers for the breath, and lie loosely in the chest so that they follow always the action of the walls that surround them.
The function of the lungs. It must be remembered that the lungs perform the twofold function of supplying the body with the air necessary to sustain life and also of furnishing breath sufficient for purposes of speech. Every teacher of physical culture emphasizes the importance of deep breathing for the general health of the body; and if the only function of the breath were to supply the blood with the necessary oxygen for this purpose, the whole matter might be dismissed with the single suggestion that we breathe deeply.
The breath as employed in speech. The employment of the breath for the purposes of speech, however, presents a distinct and peculiar problem. In the first case the breath is inhaled and exhaled constantly with no thought of conserving or sustaining it any more at one time than at another; while in the case of the breath employed in the production of tone it must be both taken in and given out in a different manner from that employed in the ordinary breathing process. The essential differences between the processes are two :
1. The speaker must be able to take in the breath more quickly than in ordinary inhalation and at such times as may be necessary.
2. He must be able to give out the breath more slowly than in ordinary exhalation and only in the proper amounts needed for good vocalization.