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MODULATION refers to pitch, force, quantity, and quality of the voice in speaking and reading.
The proper modulation of the voice contributes very much to good reading; it constitutes in a great measure what is called expressive reading, and is particularly effective for the expression of all kinds of feelings and emotions.
It is necessary to study carefully the general character of each lesson:-is it joyful, sad, or merely narrative? is it poetry, and what kind ? or is it a dialogue ? As it is one or the other, so must we adapt to it the pitch, force, quantity, and quality of the voice.
RULE.Pitch, force, quantity, and quality of the voice are intimately connected, and should always correspond to the nature of the subject.
Pitch is the prevailing or governing note, and that in which sentences are generally begun. It may be high, medium, or low.
The pitch is entirely different from loudness or softness. As in music a sound may be loud or soft whether the note be high or low, so in speaking or reading the voice may be loud or soft, whether the pitch be high or low.
Much of the ease and beauty of reading depends upon the pitch that is taken. Every reader must take the pitch that is best suited to his voice, for only by doing so will he be enabled to speak with ease and effect. If the pitch is chosen too high or too low, the reader will soon be wearied and tired out. It should vary with, and be appropriate to, the character of the subject.
Care must be taken to avoid a sing-song tone, or a mere rise and fall of the voice without regard to the sense of the words, an error very common, especially in reading poetry.
1. A medium pitch is used for merely narrative and descriptive subjects; where there is no excitement, where reason predominates over feeling; as,
Taking balloons as they are, “ for better, for worse,” let us for once have a flight in the air.
2. A high pitch is used in expressing excitement, joy, and other strong and sudden feelings; as,
“Ben Hur! Ben Hur!” they shouted. 3. A low pitch is used in expressing sadness, feelings which are deep and intense and of a more lasting character; as,
They wrenched at the planks ’mid a hail of fire:
RULE.—The pitch should in all cases be chosen within the natural compass or range of the voice.
FORCE refers to the strength and power of the voice, and embraces every variation from a whisper to a shout.
The main purpose of all speech is to be understood, and neither more nor less force should be used than is necessary to accomplish this with effect. There are three degrees of force-loud, moderate, and gentle.
1. Moderate force is used in ordinary conversation, warration, or description; as,
Are you on your way to school now? 2. Gentle force is used to express tenderness, sadness, caution, secrecy, etc.; as,
Sow with a generous hand ;
Weary not through the heat of summer,
For the sheaves of golden grain. 3. Loud force is used in command, exultation, denunciation; as,
“ Harvey Birch !-take him, dead or alive!”
RULE.— Use sufficient force to make yourself understood by your audience, but be careful not to strain the voice or to lose control of it.
QUANTITY, or TIME, refers to the length or shortness of the sound, or the movement of the voice, as slow, medium, or quick.
A distinct articulation is the basis of all good reading, which should never be so quick as to render the words or sentences unintelligible. On the other hand, if the time be too slow, the reading becomes tiresome to both reader and hearers; to produce the desired effect, the quantity or time in reading should be suited to the subject.
1. Medium Time is used in ordinary narration or description; as,
The bell began to ring for morning chapel; he got up and went toward his gown, groping toward it as though he could hardly see, and put it over his shoulders, and would go out, but he would have fallen in the court if the good nurse had not given him her arm.
2. Slow Time is used in the expression of feelings of solemnity, awe, reverence, etc.; as,
I would not spend another such a night,
3. Quick Time is used to express sudden fear, anger, joy, humor; as,
Quick ! be quick, be quick, I say !
RULE.—The Quantity, or Time, should never be too quick to interfere with distinct articulation, nor so slow as to grow wearisome to the hearers.
QUALITY of the voice refers to the tone or general character of the sound, as smooth, round, deep, harsh, acute, whispered.
By the quality of the voice we can, at once, recognize the cry of pain, the utterance of grief or joy, the command or threat, even though the words in which they are conveyed be unknown to us.
In reading dialogues or dramatic compositions, where two or more persons are represented as speaking, particular attention to the quality of the voice must be paid to render the personation effective.
The same person may also use different tones, as, for example, in the lesson “A Military Stratagem,” the words of Horse Shoe Robinson:
“ If I find any trouble in taking you, all five, safe away from this house, I will thin your numbers with your own muskets," should be read in a stern, threatening tone, while further on in the same lesson, the lines:
“By your leave, my pretty gentleman, you will lead, and I'll follow. It may be a new piece of drill to you, but the custom is to give the prisoners the post of honor," requires a jocular, sarcastic tone.
A PAUSE is a suspension of the voice in speaking or reading. The most important pauses are indicated by punctuation-marks; in many cases, however, where punctuationmarks are not used, a pause is required to give the meaning clearly and effectively.
RULE I.—Emphatic words should generally be followed by a pause; as,
Sink or swim, / survive or perish, | I give my hand and heart to this vote. We NEVER | shall submit.
RULE II.—Emphatic words should be preceded by a pause, when at the close of a sentence or when such a word is an adjective immediately following the noun it qualifies; as, For breast-high, threatening, from the sea uprose a
Many a carol, | old and saintly,
ROLE III. The subject of a sentence, if compound, requires a pause; as,
In the pauses of the shower, , you heard the rumbling of the earth beneath and the groaning waves of the tortured sea.
So Martin the bishop, and Antipater the governor | ordered the young men to be brought before them.
RULE IV. Between parts of a sentence not following in the natural order (inverted sentences) a pause is required; as,
Who risked what they risked, free from strife,