production, like many of the other muscles and organisms of the body, are directly influenced by the conditions of mind and heart of the speaker. As these conditions change, they affect the muscles, and various qualities of voice result.

Influence of emotions upon the bodily organs. Most of us are familiar with the experiments in psychology which have established beyond question the influence exerted upon the various organs of the body by the emotions. In a recent discussion of the voice and the emotions we read these statements:

Under the influence of pleasurable emotional states joy, love, hope, sense of well-being the digestion is helped, the breathing deepened, the circulation improved. Pleasurable emotion brings life; the nerve cells store up energy; the whole body seems to expand; all the vital functions are quickened; eyes brighten, cheeks redden, tense muscles become relaxed, wrinkled brows smooth; the voice becomes soft and more pleasing. Under the influence of unpleasant emotions fear, anger, etc., the energy of the body is used up; digestion is halted; breathing becomes irregular and usually more shallow; the voice changes.1

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Thus we find that the emotions exert an influence upon those muscles and organisms of the body which are involuntary quite as much as upon those that are voluntary. We know how continued worry and anxiety over troubles, real or imaginary, will result in loss of appetite and in a general run-down condition of the entire body. Often it develops into a mood which in

1 Dr. Smiley Blanton, "The Voice and the Emotions," Quarterly Journal of Public Speaking, Vol. I, No. 2.

time dominates a person's whole outlook upon life. The recluse, who continually shuts himself away from his fellow men, is usually morose and sullen, his face. drawn, his body emaciated, and his whole temper that of the pessimist and the misanthrope; while the man who looks the world squarely in the face, who sees life as it is, who mingles with people and finds pleasure and satisfaction in his work, is much more likely to have good red blood, a healthy functioning of the bodily organs, and a real purpose in life.

This principle the physician understands very well and uses it constantly in his practice. If he is wise he does not go into the sick room with gloomy, foreboding countenance. On the contrary, he tries to surround his patient with an atmosphere of sunshine and hope; to instill in him a spirit of buoyancy and optimism. His words are full of encouragement and reassurance, and by mere mental suggestion he is often able to implant a new spirit of hope that is far more potent than medicine in bringing about recovery.

The physiological basis of vocal quality. In regard to the influence of the emotions more specifically upon the vocal mechanism, the same writer goes on to say:

The action of the vocal apparatus is governed by the condition of the muscles of the body, and when all the muscles are tense we get a different action of the vocal apparatus than when they are relaxed . . .; unpleasant emotions cause a tension of the vocal cords and also, to a less extent, of the muscles surrounding the voice box. Even slight degrees of the emotions cause a swelling and a feeling of tension in the throat, while greater degrees of the same feeling will cause a real "lump" to rise. This lump is due to the contraction

of the muscles. . . . The effect of the unpleasant emotions upon the resonators is brought about through the change in the tension of the muscles that surround the resonating cavities. Hard, tense muscles cause the tone to become harsh and unpleasing. Such tones occur through the influence of anger. The opposite emotions soften and change the muscles of the resonators and give tones that are pleasing.

Thus from an observation of the physiological basis of speech quality we find that, while every individual has what may be called his own characteristic quality of voice, depending upon the size, shape, and condition of his vocal mechanism, there are ever-varying emotions from within that exert a direct influence upon different parts of this mechanism, causing the quality of the voice to change. This constant change in vocal quality, commonly known as tone color," is a potent influence in expression, since it tends to register faithfully the various states of emotion of the speaker.


Rules of formal elocution not to be relied upon. Formal elocution has made definite classifications of the varying shades of color of the voice which manifest themselves as a result of different emotions, and we find voice quality divided into such classes as normal, orotund, pectoral, aspirate, guttural, oral, nasal, falsetto. Nearly every book on elocution makes a classification somewhat of this kind and then attempts to include all emotions under these heads. For instance, the aspirate, a breathy, whispered quality, is said to include such emotions as fear, caution, secrecy; the guttural, a harsh, throaty quality, the emotions of anger, hatred, revenge; the orotund, a full, resonant quality, the emotions of grandeur,

patriotism, courage; the pectoral, a deep, hollow tone, the emotions of reverence, awe, dread. So the various emotions are classified arbitrarily according to these qualities, and we are told that a given passage from literature or a given sentiment to be expressed in a speech should have the aspirate quality predominating, and something else a guttural, pectoral, or falsetto quality.

Clearly such classifications as these are artificial, inasmuch as they leave out of consideration the individuality of the speaker and tend to fix the attention upon the kind of voice to be used rather than upon what is to be expressed. To say that a given passage from Shakespeare should be spoken by all actors with a guttural quality of voice, and that another passage should be interpreted with an aspirate quality, would be to crush individuality and render expression a thing inane and wooden indeed. What one actor might render true to sentiment and with good effect by employing a guttural quality might perhaps be given by another actor with equally correct interpretation and even greater effectiveness by the use of an intense, unvocalized aspirate.

The same thing exactly is true of the reader and the public speaker. The fact is that the qualities of the voice are as manifold as the emotions that produce them. One writer upon the subject relates the following incident :

Some think that men have only a few emotions, and divide these into pleasure and pain, love and hate, and a few others. The best answer to such narrow-minded conceptions of the varieties of human feeling is a study of the very subject. I once had an able student to whom I gave the problem to define with her voice twenty different

emotions. She said she did not believe there were so many. I told her to try it. She became interested and brought in as many as twenty varieties of love. One who has never studied or tried to develop tone color is hardly aware, as this cultivated lady was not, of the great varieties of human feeling. Words can but imperfectly name emotions. It takes the color of the voice to define them.1

Things to avoid. So we see that to set down certain definite qualities of voice, and to say that these represent the means by which an unlimited number of emotions are to be expressed, is not only misleading but dangerous to the learner. It is likely to make him feel that if every emotion has its appropriate quality, he must learn to adjust the quality of his voice to the emotion to be expressed, largely according to rule. Thus, in a more or less mechanical fashion, he will be likely to crowd his voice down into his throat in order to secure a guttural quality for one sentiment, constrict the muscles that produce the resonance necessary for another quality, and so on. In this way his attention will be directed to just the thing it should not be, the continued mechanical readjustments of the voice, when clearly it should be devoted to what he desires to express.

We are all familiar with the means employed by some elocutionists to secure desired emotional effects. Instead of cultivating the imagination and the feeling, and allowing them to express themselves truly through the voice, the attention is given to such vocal adjustments as will secure the proper effects. Thus the speaker's expression becomes merely a series of tricks, the end being to get 1 Curry, Mind and Voice, p. 365.

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