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POETIC PITCH-RISING AND FALLING TONES.
Correspondence between Elocutionary Inflections or Intonations and
certain Arrangements of Verse-Harmony produced by Sounds of Vowels and Consonants combined—Effects of Rising Movements produced by Lines beginning without Accents and ending with them-Of falling Movements, by Lines beginning with Accents and ending without them -Of Circumflex Movements, by Combinations of both Arrangements What the Marks of Accent indicated to the Greeks, and how they read them in their Poetry—Illustrations of Ideas represented by Verse arranged to give Effects of Rising, Falling, and Circumflex Movements -Movements of Verse in Narration and Pathos.
The poetic effects, corresponding to the rising and
falling of the voice, especially as used in the inflections, will now be examined. There is a sense in which these movements of the voice enter into the pronunciation of every syllable containing more than one letter-sound. In uttering, for example, the word an, the sound of the a is at a different pitch from that of the n. In talking rapidly, however, the two sounds seem usually uttered, not in succession but simultaneously. Their effects, therefore, when combined, are analogous, not to those of musical melody, but of harmony, and of these much more closely than at first might be supposed. In flexible, well-trained voices, belonging to those familiar with the relations of musical tones, there is a tendency to sound the two at such intervals of pitch from each other as to form a true musical chord. One reason why vocal culture increases
the sweetness and resonance of the speaking voice is because it enables one to sound distinctly all the elements of tone needed, in order to produce this speech-harmony.
The rising and falling of the voice with which we have to deal now, however, are not those subtile ones allying speech to harmony, but those more obvious ones which give it a very apparent melody. The effects in poetry corresponding to elocutionary inflections, are produced by the same arrangements of the syllables in the line that we have already noticed when considering metre. In our language, as a rule,-a rule which the elocutionist, of course, can violate in order to produce what for him are the more important effects of delivery,—an accented syllable is sounded on a key higher than an unaccented one. To illustrate this, in the ordinary pronunciation of conjure, meaning to practise magical arts, the con is sounded higher than the jure ; but in conjure meaning to summon solemnly, the con is sounded lower. Therefore, if a line of poetry end with an accented syllable, or have what is termed a masculine ending, the voice in pausing on this, as it generally does at the end of a line, will pause, as a rule, on a key higher than that on which it has uttered the preceding syllable. Notice this snow and below :
I sift the snow
On the mountains below,
- The Cloud : Shelley. Or again, if a line begin with an unaccented syllable, the voice will pass upward from this to the accented syllable; and this movement, begun with the line, will continue to its end, especially if there be an accented syllable there. The effect produced, therefore, in both cases, is that of a constant repetition of the rising inflection; e. g.:
The triumphal arch
Through which I march
When the powers of the air
Are chained to my chair,
-Idem. For similar reasons, if a line close with an unaccented syl. lable, having what is termed a feminine ending; or begin with an accented syllable, the effect is that of a constant repetition of the falling inflection. In fact, the Greeks, though arriving at their result through a different process, actually termed lines ending thus catalectic or falling ; 1.8.:
Love he comes, and love he tarries,
- The First Kiss: Campbell. Perhaps the contrast between this movement and the former one can be made more apparent by quoting two exceptional lines of the same poem used for illustration there :
I am the daughter
- The Cloud : Shelley. Very few, without making a special effort to do so, could read these lines, giving rising inflections on the syllable ter at the ends of them. Nor is it without significance that there is a natural tendency for musical composers, when preparing tunes for words, to arrange their melodies so that there is an emphatic rising of the voice where the final syllables either of the feet or of the lines, but especially of the latter, are accented, and a falling of it, where they are unaccented. Notice the following, and also the musical illustrations, especially the hymn termed Bayley, in the next chapter,-all of which were selected in a very few moments from an ordinary hymn-book.
Like Effects of Pitch Shown in the Melody of both Music and Verse. Lines with Falling or Feminine Endings. With Rising or Masculine Endings.
It was said, a little time ago, that the circumflex inflections, in accordance with the principle of contrast, make stronger the rising or falling movements with which they end. In like manner, certain arrangements of syllables augment the rising or falling poetic movements which we are now considering. If, for instance, series of lines both end and begin with accented syllables, the impression conveyed by the rising movement at the end of a line is increased, because it is immediately repeated at the begining of the next line; and the voice, before repeating it, must necessarily pause for a little, thus directing additional attention to it; e.gi:
On a hill there grows a flower,
Fair befall the dainty sweet,
-Phillis the Fair : N. Breton.
For a similar reason, if lines both end and begin with unaccented syllables, the effect of the falling movement is increased; e.g.:
O mistress mine, where are you roaming ?
- Twelfth Night, ii., 3: Shakespear, It is interesting to notice that this incidental use of the spoken accent in our language in order to represent pitch, is just that which the best authorities, both ancient and modern, agree in acknowledging to have been the main use of the written accent in the classic languages. The word accent comes from the Latin accentus, from ad and anere meaning to sing to, and the Greek word for the same προσωδία comes from πρός and ωδή, and means a mark for singing, or for tones of voice, and not merely for stress or the ictus. All the Greek terms used for specific accents, too, were borrowed from those used in music. The acute accent was called Dęła, meaning sharp or high, the grave Bapēta, meaning heavy or low, and the circumRex περισπωμένη, from περισπάω meaning to draw around. This circumflex, by-the-way, was almost always used upon syllables that had been contracted, and this for the simple purpose, as will become evident upon reflection, of representing in a single syllable movements of the voice that before had been represented in two : Ti-ja-w, for instance, when contracted, would become Ti-ucô.
It will be seen from this that the accents, as used by the Greeks, indicated not stress of voice, but tones not wholly dissimilar from those indicated by precisely the