Lesson 2 – The Perfect Voice

“A good clear voice will win friends, even though the words and thoughts are of no great value”

–  Eugene Feuchtinger

Philosophy Of Voice And Sound.

PrintFromVintageAManualForTheStudyOfTheHumanVoiceLesson2Fig17

“To thoroughly appreciate an art it becomes necessary to consider its origin, developments and aim; hence the following discussion.”

We must harmonize with any object that we contemplate.

If we do not find ourselves in the object, it does not appeal to us.  Also, anything ‘new’ is often considered useless, or senseless, simply because our inertia revolts against the effort to change our habits. Unfortunately, this grip of habit has dominated the vast majority of peoples in all ages and countries.

Then it goes on to say that we have lost so much through the habit of poor speech and for that reason the whole human race has deteriorated from a vocal point of view. Therefore, great thoughts cannot arise, where the voice which should give them life is harsh and offensive.  Thought and voice should harmonize. To the average person, the voice is even more important than the thought.

A good clear voice will win friends, even though the words and thoughts are of no great value.

The character of a person is often known more by his voice than by his form of speech. No man or woman with a really good voice will be found without friends: usually they are among the successful people.

Just as we disciplined ourselves to a science, so we are now approaching the time when man will be revealed to himself.

Words and speech are the results of a physiological and psychological process, which will presumably be forever a mystery to us. It is, however, reasonable to suppose that the thought has its seat in the emotions of the heart. A musical sound, tone or voice consists of four elements: Pitch, Strength, Time and Quality.

Pitch (low or high).

By this is meant a sound, which accordingly as the vibrations of the air are either fast or slow, takes its place in a systematic order which we call the musical scale.

The higher pitch impresses us as being thin and short, while the lower pitch gives the impression of broadness and length.  The higher pitch arouses the impression of intensity and excitement, while the lower pitch gives the impression of repose and solidity.  The change from low to high pitch backward and forward, assures our interest, compels us to keep on listening, in the expectation of something new.  Therein is found they psychological success not only of music, but of oratory and in the business world of salesmanship as well. The human ear is able to detect sound when the pitch is above 16 vibrations per second.

Strength (dynamic).

Strength and sound are indispensable to one another. Strength is the medium of emphasis or stress upon certain words or sounds. The speaker and singer must contrast sentences and emphasize certain parts of a speech or song. By means of using different degrees of strength, the effect, both of speech and music, is much increased. A good orator or singer must have command over different degrees of strength, so that he can shade at will and create a deeper impression.

Time (tempo).

The medium tempo, or time, is 60 to 70 beats a minute, which is equivalent to the number of heart beats in a minute. This is another means of expression. Sounds or words emitted slowly and emphatically give the impression of solemnity, dignity or repose: as the tempo becomes faster, the attention becomes more intense and excitement follows a quick tempo. To alternate slow and fast tempos is a valuable means of holding the listener’s attention.

Quality (tone color).

Metal, wood, animal fibres or muscles all produce a different sound, characteristic of the material. Each of these materials has its own particular sound waves and overtones or accessory sounds. The human instrument or vocal organ is supposed to be the most perfect of all musical instruments.  It has the finer qualities of all instruments, because, when it is perfect, its overtones are more numerous than those of instruments of human manufacture. Also, as no two persons ever have exactly the same quality of voice, there is a constant variety, which is one of the reasons why the human voice is preferred to any instrument.

The ear is the medium through which sound, whether pleasing or displeasing, is transmitted to us. One might say that music is not made with the instrument, but with the ear.  Vibrations or sound waves strike the ear drum, an elastic, this membrane, which is stretched upon a horn in the ear. Behind this drum are three little bones or hammers, which act as dampers, so that vibrations are instantly stopped, to admit the passage of new vibrations, just as the dampers on the piano stop the vibration of the piano tones. Then there are muscles, which make the ear drum more or less tense, for high or low tones.

Do what you may, you cannot escape the voice or the tone. Whether you know it or not, you are constantly under the influence of sound.

Sound, that is, musical sound, is the beautifier of time. It is to beautify the ever moving space of existence that music or sound was created. In the space of rest, visible nature itself has undertaken the task of beautifying. All this has nature done for space: and to do something similar for time is the privilege of ourselves by means of sound and music.

The words which we speak and the tunes which we sing, are sounds arranged in rhythmical order and sequence. Rhythm is the shape, form or proportion of things in time: shape, form or proportion is the rhythm of things in space. Time is only the space of motion, and rhythm defines that space in the same manner that the space of rest is defined by forms.

Rhythm, like form, is based on proportion. We have no perception of rhythm of hearing a single beat. There must be a second beat to become a meter, or a measure of time.

Tones spread over rhythms as color do over forms. It is a remarkable fact, however, that while in nature colors play the subordinate and forms the principal part, the order is reversed in audible nature, where rhythm is subordinate to tones.

Only one thing remains to be said to give you an idea of the beauty and vastness of the subject. On thing only remains to be said, that is, in drawing comparisons between the beautiful in space and in time, we should not forget that, in the case of space, the task of beautifying has been undertaken by nature itself, with the unbounded resources at its command, while in the case of time, the task was left to the limited power of man.  Were nature to beautify time as it does space – could we hear, for instance, such a thing as the harmony of the spheres – the sublimity of such music would transcend all human conception.

By the study of physical science we find, in the first place, that the universe if governed by laws: by further investigation we find that these laws are subservient to great principles. One of these principles is “Beauty.” Beauty is manifest in three great forms, namely: the moral, the intellectual and the physical. These three classes of beauty are by not mean distinct and separate things. They are, on the contrary, closely interlinked with each other and exert a strong influence on each other. They are, in fact, only different manifestations of identical causes. The physically beautiful is manifested either in things in space, or in things in time. The beautiful in things in space is opened to us by the organ of vision; the beautiful in things in time chiefly by the organ of hearing. Things in space, therefore, come under the head of visible nature; things in time under that of audible nature.

In the beautifying of audible nature, however, nature has reserved but an inferior part to herself. It has supplied the laws under which development was to take place, but the development itself was left to the absolute control of man. Nature has given you the means of developing a beautiful voice, but you must do the developing yourself. Having given you the means, nature’s work is ended; yours is to carry it on to completion.

We are intended to be co-workers with the Creator.

Exercises For Lesson II