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THE ART OF ELOCUTION.
The main principles of Elocution, and a few practical suggestions as to their application, are all that the writer proposes to include in this brief manual. These principles govern various Arts which differ from each other in important respects.
The Art of Preaching, for instance, has characteristics which sharply distinguish it from other branches of public speaking. The same is true of the Actor's and Reciter's Arts, and of the Art of Conversation.
But to all these Arts certain fundamental principles of Elocution equally apply. These may be classified as :
A.—The development and control of the voice.
B.—The training of the mind, On the physical side, the speaker or reciter must see to the correct production of the voice, and must strive, by judicious exercise, to strengthen its power, enrich its tone, and extend its compass.
On the mental side, he will need to develop memory and imagination, to acquire a right sense of the value of 'words and of the beauty and significance of literary forms. The student who wishes to master this art should therefore understand from the beginning that the realization of his desire will be the work of many years.
We shall deal here with the training of the vehicle of speech only ; we have not space for a consideration of the higher artistic matters, Our aim is two-fold :-(a) to fully develop the voice in all its powers, and (b) to acquire definite control of all the machinery of speech-voice, facial expression and gesture.
The following exercises will be found useful :1.-To develop and gain control over the lungs : A.—Fill and empty the lungs ten or twenty times,
first slowly, then rapidly. B.—Count to 40, in one breath, or take the alphabet
twice in one breath. Gradually increase the exercise till 80 can be easily reached in one
breath. C.-Stand erect, hands touching the thighs. Slowly
move the hands out sideways to above the head, simultaneously filling the lungs. Revert to the
first position during expiration. 2.-Voice Development: A.—Sing up Scale from A to E, below middle C, on
oh: and from F to C, on ah. Repeat each tone
four times, B.—Sing as before, using movements of the arms
downward from the shoulders, in front, for tones to E; and backward from chest for tones above E and up to C, to accentuate each tone. Fill the lungs, well to start with, then take a short breath
for each tone. C.—Take the same range, holding out each tone with
equable power: duration, about half a minute. All theses tones should be produced on the inhalation. 3.- Articulation : Tonics. A.-Speak (in most useful octave) the Vowels oo, oh,
ah, ai, ee. Increase force, steadily, until great
Sub-Tonics and Atonics.
the following exercises :-
Vanity of Vanities and all is Vanity.
sleeping. Ten to fifteen minutes daily should be given to the foregoing exercises, and, before attempting them, the student would do well to observe the following precepts :
(a) In Breathing, habituate yourself to the abdominal
method. Keep the shoulders down and still, and the chest raised. Inflate and deflate the lungs from the diaphragm, i.e., try to feel the breathing movements around the waist of the body
especially at the sides and around the back, (b) In beginning vocal-practice choose that range of
voice which is natural to you. It may be very low or it may be very high, but in the majority of cases it will be neither low nor high, but about the middle of the scale—say from lower C to middle C. When you have developed the resources of your voice within this easy range, you may gradually extend the compass, above and below, until the whole voice is at your command. Begin all exercises pianissimo and gradually
increase power. (c) Sing and speak from the front of the mouth-as
down a tube. The habit of arresting the voice in the throat is injurious and provocative of thick, indistinct articulation,
(d) Never attempt to imitate voices unlike your own
simply because of some excellence you may admire in them. By persistent attempts in such directions many a goud voice has been ruined. Strive to
develop your own gifts.
(a) Open the mouth adequately.
of the last syllable.
SUGGESTIONS ON DELIVERY. 1. We should always satisfy an
audience about two things : (a) That we thoroughly understand what we
interpreting. (6) That we have a real pleasure in the composition
for its own sake. 2. Do not memorize a poem before studying it. Study first, memorize afterwards.
3. In the use of gesture avoid extremes. gesture have a definite purpose behind it. The artist in recitation should think out all his gestures beforehand, leaving nothing to chance; to the speaker and preacher, greater liberty may be allowed.
4. Perfect harmony between the matter and the manner of utterance can only be achieved by a living personal sympathy with every sentence spoken. The speaker must speak with his heart as well as with his head ; the reciter must realize the mood of the poet as well as the meaning of the poem.
The foregoing exercises and suggestions, if carefully read and duly practised, will be found helpful to the beginner; but the writer would strongly urge all students to obtain the counsel of a proficient teacher. More complete systems of vocal exercises will be found in the writer's two pamphlets, “Elementary Exercises in Elocution” and “Elocutionary Exercises."