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Articulation is the movement of the organs of the mouth, in cote verting sounds into syllables and words.
It is the cutting out or shaping the sounds.
Good articulation is the giving to every letter in a syllable its due proportion and form of sound, according to the most approved usage of pronunciation, and making such a distribution between the syllables that the ear shall without difficulty perceive to which word or syllable each letter belongs.
Syllables and words should be delivered out from the lips, like beautiful coins from the mint ; each one distinctly and accurately formed, perfectly finished, and uttered in due succession and with the proper force.
Words should neither be hurried after one another, nor precipitated syllable over syllable, nor melted into a mass, nor clipped short, nor prolonged, nor half swallowed, nor shot out, nor drawled along, nor slipped out carelessly, nor dropped unfinished from the mouth.
In perfect articulation, the smallest vibration of sound, every touch and motion of the organs, is perceived as far as the sound is heard.
The best models of tasteful and finished articulation are to be found in the conversation of well-educated women. Women's tongues are generally better shaped than those of men, and all their organs are more flexible. Their lips, tongue, chin, all perform their part with quickness, precision, and ease, and the voice resounds in the head, and flows through the parted teeth, in pure and silvery tones, perfectly and accurately articulated.
It is said that in the training of the first class of Italian singers, three years are devoted to the one object of giving grace, activity, and precision to the muscles of the mouth employed in articulation.
The speaking voice is a far more complicated instrument than the singing voice, capable of an infinitely greater variety of effects and of far greater power, and hence is worthy of a far more thorough cultivation.
The proper time to acquire this perfect command of the muscles is in youth, before habits become fixed by time.
The proper method of doing it is to exercise the different evolutions of the mouth, by practising all the elementary principles of speech, or articulate sounds.
Good speaking is naturally easy, to those whose lips are neither
too thick nor too thin, the teeth all regular and sound, the tongue of moderate size and perfectly flexible, and the chin so well hung as to move with ease and readiness, in opening and shutting the mouth, and varying the sound.
The desired flexibility and precision of the muscles, and perfect control of their motions, may be acquired in a very high degree, by proper diligence in cultivation, even by those who have been little favored by nature in the formation of their organs. And the beauty and power of speech thereby acquired will be an ample reward for all the labor of cultivation.
A quick opening of the mouth, a full utterance of the vowels, and a precise touching of the consonants, will give to the voice firmness, distinctness, grace and effectiveness.
Indolence, carelessness, or a shuffling or drawling habit in the utterance of syllables, is a vulgarity far less excusable than the same faults in the motion and carriage of the body in walking.
It is the office of the chin to move the hinge that opens and shuts the mouth in speaking; and its activity or laziness discloses either a polite or vulgar pronunciation.
The tongue and lips should do their work with promptness and freedom, so as neither to drive the voice into harsh sounds, on the one hand, nor to pinch it into silly tones, on the other.
The celebrated William Pitt is said to have owed the power of his eloquence over the British parliament very much to the impressive effects of his clear articulation, and beautiful distinctness of utter
THE CONSONANT DRILL.
As the vowel sounds are made by opening the lips and putting forth the voice, it is evident that the exercises which are to give flexibility and precision to the muscles must consist chiefly in lessons on the pronunciation of the consonants.
The consonants are articulations of sound, affixed to the vowels. In uttering the word tea, for example, the breath is held by the consonant t, and then exploded upon the vowel e. In uttering the word eat, the reverse takes place; the vowel sound e precedes the stop or consonant t, and the breath is ejected after it. In pronouncing tight, the stop takes place both before and after the vowel, and then the breath is let off.
Sounds. b bulb.
trot. d did.
valve. f fife.
woe. g gag.
box. g gem.
yet. h hay.
ringing. k kick. ch
smith. P pipe. thh
thy. 9 quick. woh
why. Learn to distinguish between the name of a letter, and the sound which it represents. In these exercises, you are concerned only with the sounds.
You may now exercise in pronouncing the following tables, containing all the usual sounds of the consonants. Care should be taken that all the sounds are made with force and distinctness. Also, that they are pronounced correctly. At the same time, guard against a harsh or coarse sound. Let the voice be open, smooth, and pleasant.
G as in go.
H, a breathing.
Tart, tight, tilt, trait, treat, trot, titter, totter.
TH, as in smith.
TH, as in thy.
Additional exercises and instructions in the sounds of the letters will be found in Part II. of this series of Readers, called “Easy Lessons."
In making all these sounds, it is important to acquire the habit of opening the teeth, working the lips freely, and giving a full, smooth sound, not pinched up by contracting the lips, nor roughened by too much breath.
Too much stress can hardly be laid on the necessity of observing the position of the body, so as to expand the chest, and open the throat. Look at the robin when he sings, and see how he opens his throat to make those clear, ringing sounds; and never rest satisfied till you have done your utmost to render your voice as sonorous and smooth as his.
The Vocal Drill is designed to give you the full command of those organs which are employed in making sound, while the Consonant Drill will give you full command over those organs which are employed in the modulation and articulation of sound.
CLASSIFICATION OF CONSONANTS.
The consonant sounds may be classified either by their sounds or by their formation. In classifying by sound, Dr. Rush divides them into sub-tonics and atonics.
Sub-tonics. - L, M, N, R, NG, B, D, G, V, Z, ZH, Y, W, THH.
Atonics. — P, T, K, F, S, H, TH, SH, CH.
Gardiner's “ Music of Nature" divides the consonant sounds into three classes, mutes, liquids, and sub-liquids. The mutes are the furthest removed from the vowels, and are the most perfect consonants, corresponding with the stops in music; as in cock-pit, foot-path, thick-set, hard-fist. Pronounce these words slowly, and you will see that there is no tone, except on the vowels.
The liquids have a certain intonation blended with articulation. Each mute has its corresponding liquid, and each liquid (except ) is formed from its mute by the addition of a vocal tone, whereby