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Title: Voice Production in Singing and Speaking - Based on Scientific Principles (Fourth Edition, Revised and Enlarged)
Author: Mills, Wesley, 1847-1915
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Voice Production in Singing and Speaking - Based on Scientific Principles (Fourth Edition, Revised and Enlarged)" ***

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The Rights of Translation and all other Rights Reserved


Electrotyped and Printed by
J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, U.S.A.

[Transcriber's Notes: In this e-text, illustrations of music notation
have been rendered using standard text notation, e.g.: C = C two
octaves below middle C; c = C one octave below middle C; c' = middle
C; c'' = C one octave above middle C, etc.

Macrons are indicated thus: [=a], [=e], [=i], [=o], [=u].]

[Illustration: Illustrations of the appearance of the larynx during
phonation in two special cases. (Grünwald.)]


They contrast with each other in that the one (upper) is too red; the
other, too pale. The upper represents appearances such as one gets
with the laryngoscope when the subject has a very severe cold, or even
inflammation of the larynx, including the central vocal bands. In this
particular case, a young woman of twenty-five years of age, there was
inflammation with a certain amount of weakness of the internal
thyro-arytenoid muscles. Speaking was almost impossible, and such
voice as was produced was of a very rough character. In the lower
illustration we have the appearances presented in a man affected with
tuberculosis of the lungs and larynx. The pallor of the larynx is
characteristic. There is weakness of the internal thyro-arytenoid
muscle on the right side, which results in imperfect tension of the
vocal band on that side, so that the voice is uncertain and harsh.
Such illustrations are introduced to impress the normal by contrast.
The reader is strongly advised to compare these figures with others in
the body of the work, especially those of Chapter VII.


In addition to certain emendations, etc., introduced throughout the
work, I have thought it well to add a chapter in which the whole
subject is treated in a broad and comprehensive way in the light of
the latest scientific knowledge.

In this review the psychological aspects of the subject have not been
neglected, and the whole has been related to practice to as great an
extent as the character of the book permits.

It is significant that on both sides of the Atlantic there is a
growing conviction that the foundations for speaking and singing as an
art must be made as scientific as the state of our knowledge will


January, 1913.


No preface to the Second Edition was written, so few were the changes
that were made in the work, and the same might apply to this Third
Edition. However, the fact that within a period of less than two
years, a Second English and a Third American Edition have been called
for, seems to the Author to be so conclusive an endorsement of the
application of science to vocal art, that he may be entitled at least
to express his gratification at the progress the cause, to which he
has devoted his pen, is making. It would seem that the better portion
at least of that public that is interested in the progress of vocal
art has made up its mind that the time has come when sense and science
must replace tradition and empiricism.


MONTREAL, September, 1908.


The present work is based on a life study of the voice, and has grown
out of the conviction that all teaching and learning in voice-culture,
whether for the purposes of singing or speaking, should as far as
possible rest on a scientific foundation.

The author, believing that practice and principles have been too much
separated, has endeavored to combine them in this book. His purpose
has not been to write an exhaustive work on vocal physiology, with
references at every step to the views of various authors; rather has
he tried always to keep in mind the real needs of the practical
voice-user, and to give him a sure foundation for the principles that
must underlie sound practice. A perusal of the first chapter of the
work will give the reader a clearer idea of the author's purpose as
briefly expressed above.

The writer bespeaks an unprejudiced hearing, being convinced that in
art as in all else there is but one ultimate court of appeal: to the
scientific, the demonstrable--to what lies at the very foundations of
human nature.

In conclusion, the author desires to thank those publishers and
authors who have kindly permitted the use of their illustrations.


MCGILL UNIVERSITY, Montreal, October, 1906.




Science and art--The engineer, architect, physician, nurse, and
others, compared with the vocal teacher and learner--Unfavorable
tendencies--The old masters--The great elocutionists--Causes of
failure--The lack of an adequate technique--Correct methods are
physiological--Summary of the advantages of teaching and learning
based on scientific principles--Illustrations of the application of
physiological principles to actual cases--The evils from which
speakers and singers suffer owing to wrong methods--Speaking and
singing based on the same principles--Relation of hygiene to
physiology 17



Relations of animals to each other--Common properties of living
matter--Explanation of these--The mammal and man--The stimulus and its
results--The one-celled animal--Various "systems"necessary--Complexity
of structure and function--Harmony through the nervous system--The
rule of nervous centres--Means by which they are influenced, and by
which they influence--Reflex action--Muscular mechanisms and
neuro-muscular mechanisms--Work of the singer and speaker largely
reflex in character--Summary 34



Breathing the great essential--Misconceptions--Purpose of breathing as
a vital process--The respiratory organs--Their nature--Relations of
the lungs to the chest-wall--Expansion of the chest--Its
diameters--The muscles of respiration--Personal observation--The
diaphragm--Varying quantities of air breathed--Breathing when properly
carried out by the singer or speaker is healthful 44



Relations of the nervous system to breathing--The respiratory
centre--Reflex action in breathing--Methods of preventing
nervousness--Tones produced by the outgoing breath--Waste of
breath--The happy combination for good singing or speaking 57



The well-developed chest--The voice-user a kind of athlete--The
tremolo--Exercises recommended for the development of the chest--Forms
of dress that hamper breathing--Weighing and measuring,
re-measurement, etc.--Specific directions for methods to develop the
chest--Warnings--Additional exercises--Breathing through the nose and
through the mouth--Exercises for the development of the diaphragm and
abdominal muscles--Relation of the diaphragm to the staccato
effect--Forms of general exercise for the voice-user--Summary 62



Not the only voice-producing apparatus--Specific structures of the
larynx in use when the subject phonates--Muscles and their
attachments--The cartilages of the larynx--The lining mucous
membrane--Changes in it when one has a "cold"--The vocal
bands--Functions of the epiglottis--The "middle line" and relative
position of parts--Adam's apple--Ventricle of the larynx--The
importance of the arytenoid cartilages--Muscles of the larynx in
detail--Sphincter action--Straining--Position of the larynx--Practical
considerations--Dissection of a "pluck" and especially of the
larynx--Hygiene--How disorder of one part may affect another--Summary



Some study of physics desirable--Sound and vibrations--The sounding
body--Experiments to illustrate the principles of sound--Qualities of
sound--Animals and perception of sound--The range of hearing in
man--The larynx as a musical instrument--Experiments of Johannes
Müller--Discovery of the laryngoscope by Garcia--Description
of the instrument--Method of using the laryngoscope--The
difficulties--Auto-laryngoscopy--The importance of both laryngoscopy
and auto-laryngoscopy--Change in size of the larynx due to
use--Delicate changes in the laryngeal mechanism--Changes in the
larynx during adolescence--Warnings--The "breaking" of the
voice--Analogies with fatigue, etc.--When should singing be
begun?--Singing with others--Choral singing 97



Various kinds of breathing, as "abdominal," "clavicular," etc.,
discussed--Control of the whole of the breathing mechanism
urged--Correct breathing as a habit--Breathing in the most vigorous
speaking and singing--Different views expressed by a diagram--Economy
of energy in art--Reserve energy in breathing--"Pumping"--_Coup de
glotte_--"Attack"--Breath-adjustment--Quality of sound the prime
consideration in tone-production--Tremolo and other faults--Tests of
good breathing--Mouth-breathing--Exercises--Singing of a single
tone--Its relation to scale-singing--Summary and review 118



Vocal bands and resonance-chambers compared--Improvised mechanism to
illustrate resonance--Musical instruments as resonance-bodies--A vowel
in relation to the resonance-chambers--Description of the
resonance-chambers--How the quality of tones may be made to vary--New
views as to the sounding-chambers--Summary 140



A controverted subject--Definitions of a register--Qualifications for
dealing with this subject--Madame Seiler--Tabular statement of her
views--Garcia's and Behnke's divisions of registers--Sir Morell
Mackenzie's views in detail--The author's earlier investigations--Madame
Marchesi's views and practice 151



Auto-laryngoscopy and photography of the larynx--Dogmatism and
science--Confusion and controversy--The break--Ignoring
registers--Modification of tones, or "covering"--Points of agreement
between different writers on the subject--The falsetto for
males--Madame Seiler's special qualifications--Behnke's and
Mackenzie's views--The author's conclusions--Rule for the extension of
a register--Why certain artists deteriorate while others do
not---Males and females compared as to registers--The division of the
registers for female voices recommended by the author--Teacher and
pupil as regards registers--Objection to registers answered--The
manner of using the breath and registers--How to distinguish
registers--The teacher's part--Hearing singers of eminence is
recommended--Madame Melba--Guiding sensations--Summary 161



Artistic expression only through movements--Emotions and
technique--Relation of ideas to movements--Memories and
movements--Guiding sensations essential for movements--The principles
underlying all movements the same--Associated reflexes and habits--How
habits are formed--inhibitions and their importance--Early practices
only before the teacher--Careful practice with concentration of energy
the best--Queries as to practice--Fatigue a warning--Practice in the
early hours of the day, and short of fatigue--Quality to be aimed at
rather than quantity--The total amount of time to be devoted to
practice--"Hasten slowly;" "Little and often"--The treatment of the
voice ruined by wrong methods--Summary 179



Vowels, consonants, noise--Consonants and pauses--Voice-production and
vowels--Certain vowel sounds common to most languages--Why German and
English are relatively unmusical--The needs of the musical artist--The
mechanism required for the production of a vowel sound--Reconsideration
of the resonance-chambers--The larynx to be steadied but not held
rigidly immovable--The principal modifiers of the shape of the
mouth-cavity--Breath to be taken through the mouth--The lips--Tongue
and lip practice before a mirror--Importance of the connection between
the ear and the mouth parts, etc--"Open mouth"--The mouth in singing a
descending scale--Undue opening of the mouth--Proper method of opening
the mouth--Causes of compression and the consequences 195



Principles and their expression in a few exercises--Analysis of the
methods of tone-production--The sustained tone--Smoothly linked
tones--The legato--The staccato and kindred effects--The mechanisms
concerned--Perfection requires years of careful practice--The
bel canto and the swell--The same exercises for singer and
speaker--"Forward," "backward," etc., production--Escape of
breath--The action of the soft palate--When to use "forward" and when
"backward" production--Voice-placement--Nasal resonance, not nasal
twang--Summary 207



The subject may be made dry or the reverse--Vowels, consonants,
noise--The position of the lips and the shape of the mouth-cavity in
sounding the various vowels--How to demonstrate that the mouth-cavity
is a resonance-chamber--Practical considerations growing out of the
above--Speaker, vocalist, and composer--Bearing of these facts on the
learning of languages--Consonants as musical nuisances--Their great
variation in pitch--Brücke's division of consonants--Tabulation of the
same 218



The best vowel to use in practice--Necessary to practise all--The
guttural _r_ and the lingual _r_--Consonants that favor nasality of
tone--Overtones and fundamental tones--Relation of intensity and
quality--The carrying power of a tone--Unusual distinctness in
practice as related to ease--The registers of the speaking voice
according to Madame Seiler--The range in speaking--Summary 230



Why this chapter is introduced--The essential mechanism of
hearing--The part played by waves and vibrations--Divisions of the
ear--The external ear in lower animals--The drum-head or tympanic
membrane--The middle ear and its connections--Relation of the throat
and the ear--The inner ear or labyrinth--The end-organ and its
relations--The connection of the ear and various parts of the
brain--The musician's ear--Relation of music and hearing--Lack of ear
and inattention--The artist and the musician--The ear and the speaking
voice--General musical training in relation to intonation, etc--The
appreciation of music, and training to that end--The art of listening
with close attention--Summary 236



Hygienic as related to physiological principles--Hygiene in the
widest sense--Unfavorable conditions in the public life of an
artist--Qualifications for success--Technique and a public career--The
isolation of the artist and its dangers--The need for greater
preparation now than ever--Choral singing and its possible
dangers--The tendencies of the Wagner music-drama--Special faults, as
the "scoop," "_vibrato_," "_tremolo_," "pumping"--Desirability of
consultations by teachers of the use of the voice--Things the
voice-user should avoid--Mouth-toilets--Lozenges--The sipping of
water--What one should and should not eat--Tea and Coffee--The whole
subject of congestion from compression, straining, etc., of the utmost
importance--A sore throat when frequent should give rise to inquiry as
to methods--Constipation--Exercise--Bathing 251



Stammering and stuttering--Those who have broken down--The increase of
the range of a voice--The part the student plays in settling such
questions--Selections to be avoided--Conservation of energy--Change
and contrast--The voice as related to the building in which it is
produced--The listener and pauses--Nervousness, and how to ward it
off--General conclusion 268



The object of the speaker or singer--The idea of co-ordination--The
study of vocalization may be considered a study of movements--The
psychic condition--The instrument which is played upon--How is this
instrument played upon?--Vibration of the air--Breathing--The aim of
all training--The whole subject of breathing--Breathing exercises--The
resonance chambers--The formation of vowels--Muscular efforts for the
production of consonants--The pronunciation of words--General health
of great importance 276


FIG.                                                             PAGE

Appearance of the larynx during phonation in two
special cases (in colors)                               _Frontispiece_

 1. Muscle-fibres from the heart, much magnified                   34
 2. Small portion of muscle, moderately magnified                  34
 3. Muscle-cells from coats of intestine                           35
 4. Body of a nerve-cell of the spinal cord                        38
 5. Large nerve-cell from spinal cord of an ox                     38
 6. Cell from the cortex cerebri                                38-39
 7. Nerve terminating in a muscle                               38-39
 8. Muscle-fibres with capillaries around and between them         39
 9. Parts of the respiratory apparatus                             44
10. Trachea and bronchial tubes                                    45
11. Heart, lungs, and diaphragm                                    45
12. Diagram showing changes in shape of chest during inspiration   49
13. Diagram showing depression of the diaphragm during
    inspiration                                                    50
14. Position of diaphragm, abdominal walls, etc., during
    expiration                                                     55
15. Diagram illustrating reflex action                             58
16. A well-developed, healthy chest                                62
17. A chest deformed by corsets                                    62
18. Normal position of diaphragm and vital organs                  63
19. Vital organs misplaced by compression of the chest             63
20. Thyroid and cricoid cartilages, side view                      76
21. Thyroid and cricoid cartilages, front view                     76
22. Back surface of cricoid cartilage                              77
23. Cricoid cartilage, side view.                                  77
24. Arytenoid cartilages                                           77
25. A view of the larynx from behind                               78
26. Epiglottis, thyroid and cricoid cartilages, etc.            78-79
27. Hyoid bone, crico-thyroid muscle, etc.                      78-79
28. Posterior view of the larynx                                   79
29. Diagram showing relation of parts to the thyroid cartilage     80
30. Diagram showing the action of crico-thyroid muscle             82
31. View of larynx from above                                      83
32. Transverse section of larynx                                   83
33. False and true vocal bands, etc.                               86
34. Inner surface of the larynx                                    87
35. Diagram to show the action of the laryngeal muscles            96
36. Registering the vibrations of a tuning-fork                   100
37. Illustrating the transmission of vibrations                   101
38. Illustrating the theory and practice of laryngoscopic
    examination                                                   104
39. Illustrating the practice of laryngoscopic examination        106
40. Laryngoscopic picture of male larynx                          112
41. Laryngoscopic picture of female larynx                        112
42. Larynx during an attack of a common "cold"                    113
43. The vocal bands as seen with laryngoscope during deep
    inspiration                                                   113
44. Diagram showing form of chest and abdomen in forced
    abdominal breathing                                           122
45. The vocal bands during the production of a high-pitched tone  138
46. Water being poured into a tube until the remaining air-space
    becomes a resonator of a tuning-fork                          142
47. Soft palate, fauces, and tonsils                          142-143
48. Nares and soft palate, from behind                        142-143
49. Turbinated bones of the nose                                  143
50. Madame Seiler's division of the registers                     155
51. Appearance of the vocal bands when sounding first E and
    then F sharp                                                  164
52. Diagram to show the nature of registers and breaks            166
53. Diagram of the processes involved in singing                  186
54. Highly magnified diagramatic representation of a section
    through the superficial part of the great brain               188
55. Nerve-cell from the outer rind of the great brain, much
    magnified                                                     189
56. Position of parts in sounding the vowel A                     219
57. Position of the parts in sounding I                           220
58. Position of the parts in sounding OU                          222
59. Position of the parts in sounding T, K, F, R, N, and P        227
60. Vertical section of the auditory apparatus                    237
61. Diagram of the auditory apparatus                             238
62. Two of the ear-bones (malleus and incus), enlarged            239
63. The complete chain of auditory ossicles                       240




To know consciously and to do with special reference to guiding
principles are to be distinguished from carrying out some process
without bearing in mind the why or wherefore. Science is exact and
related knowledge, facts bound together by principles. Art is
execution, doing, and has not necessarily any conscious reference to

While every art has its corresponding science, their relation is in
some cases of much greater practical importance than in others. While
a painter may be the better for knowing the laws of light, there can
be no question that he may do very good work without any knowledge
whatever of the science of optics. He is at least in no danger of
injuring any part of his person.

Entirely otherwise is it with the voice-user. He employs a delicate
and easily injured vital apparatus. His results depend on the most
accurate adjustment of certain neuro-muscular mechanisms, and one
might suppose that it would be obvious to all who are concerned with
this art that a knowledge of the structure and functions of these
delicate arrangements of Nature would be at least of great if not of
essential importance. The engineer knows the structure and uses of
each part of his engine, and does not trust to unintelligent
observation of the mere working of mechanisms which others have
constructed. The architect studies not only the principles of design,
etc., but also the nature and relative value of materials. In his own
way he is a kind of anatomist and physiologist.

We do not trust the care of our bodies to those who have picked up a
few methods of treatment by experience or the imitation of others. The
doctor must have, we all believe, a knowledge of the structure and
working of the animal body; he must understand the action of drugs and
other healing agents. We expect him not only to diagnose the
disease--to tell us exactly what is the matter--but also to be able to
predict with, some degree of certainty the course of the malady. Even
the nurse of the day must show some grasp of the principles underlying
her art.

In connection with all the largest and best equipped universities in
America there are officials to plan and direct the courses in physical
culture. This matter is no longer entrusted to a "trainer," who has
only his experience and observation to rely upon. It is realized that
the building up of the mechanism which they are supposed to train in
an intelligent manner rests upon well-established principles.

It would be just as reasonable for an engineer to point to the fact
that his engine works well, as evidence of his ability, as for the
teacher of voice-production to make the same claim in regard to the
vocal mechanism. In each case there is a certain amount of
justification for the claim, but such teaching cannot be called
scientific. Is it even enlightened? It is just as rational to follow
in medicine methods that seem to lead to good results, without any
reference to the reason why, as to train for results in speaking and
singing by methods which have for the student and teacher no conscious
basis in scientific knowledge. The physician to-day who treats disease
without reference to anatomy and physiology is, at best, but a sort of
respectable charlatan. Why should students and teachers of
voice-production be content to remain, in the advanced present, where
they were hundreds of years ago?

Indeed, there is much more reason now than formerly why the vocalist,
speaker, and teacher should have a theoretical and practical
knowledge of the structure and workings of the mechanism employed.
Many tendencies of the present day work against successful
voice-training--worst of all, perhaps, the spirit of haste, the desire
to reach ends by short cuts, the aim to substitute tricky for
straightforward vocalization, and much more which I shall refer to
again and again. They hurt this cause; and I am deeply impressed with
the conviction that, if we are to attain the best results in singing
and speaking, we must betake ourselves in practice to the methods in
vogue at a time which may be justly characterized as the golden age of

We have advanced, musically, in many respects since the days of the
old Italian masters, but just as we must turn to the Greeks to learn
what constitutes the highest and best in sculpture, so must we sit at
the feet of these old masters. Consciously or unconsciously they
taught on sound physiological principles, and they insisted on the
voice-training absolutely necessary to the attainment of the best art.

However talented any individual may be, he can only produce the best
results as a singer, actor, or speaker, when the mechanisms by which
he hopes to influence his listeners are adequately trained. Why do we
look in vain to-day for elocutionists such as Vandenhoff, Bell, and
others? Why are there not actors with the voices of Garrick, Kean,
Kemble, or Mrs. Siddons, or singers with the vocal powers of a score
of celebrities of a former time? It is not that voices are rarer, or
talent less widely bestowed by nature. It is because _we do not to-day
pursue right methods for a sufficient length of time_; because our
methods rest frequently on a foundation less physiological, and
therefore less sound. Take a single instance, breath-control. In this
alone singers to-day are far behind those of the old Italian period,
not always because they do not know how to breathe, but because often
they are unwilling to give the time necessary for the full development
of adequate breathing power and control.

There was probably never a time when so much attention was paid to the
interpretation of music, yet the results are often unsatisfactory
because of inadequate technique. People seem to hope to impress us, on
the stage, with voices that from a technical point of view are crude
and undeveloped, and accordingly lack beauty and expressiveness.
Speakers to-day have often every qualification except voice--a voice
that can arrest attention, charm with its music, or carry conviction
by the adequate expression of the idea or emotion intended.

Is it not strange that a student of the piano or violin is willing to
devote perhaps ten years to the study of the technique of his
instrument, while the voice-user expects to succeed with a period of
vocal practice extending over a year or two, possibly even only a few

When the anatomy and physiology of the larynx are considered, it will
be seen that the muscular mechanisms concerned in voice-production are
of a delicacy unequalled anywhere in the body except possibly in the
eye and the ear. And when it is further considered that these
elaborate and sensitive mechanisms of the larynx are of little use
except when adequately put into action by the breath-stream, which
again involves hosts of other muscular movements, and the whole in
relation to the parts of the vocal apparatus above the larynx, the
mouth, nose, etc., it becomes clear that only long, patient, and
_intelligent_ study will lead to the highest results.

It should also be remembered that such an apparatus can easily acquire
habits which may last for life, for good or ill, artistically
considered. Such delicate mechanisms can also be easily injured or
hopelessly ruined; and, as a matter of fact, this is being done daily.
A great musical periodical has made the statement that thousands of
voices are being ruined annually, in America alone, by incompetent
teaching. My experience when a practising laryngologist made me
acquainted with the extent of the ruin that may be brought about by
incorrect methods of using the voice, both as regards the throat and
the voice itself; and contact with teachers and students has so
impressed me with the importance of placing voice-production on a
sound foundation, not only artistic but physiological, that I have
felt constrained to tell others who may be willing to hear me what I
have learned as to correct methods, with some reference also to wrong
ones, though the latter are so numerous that I shall not be able to
find the space to deal at length with them.

The correct methods of singing and speaking are always, of necessity,
physiological. Others may satisfy a vitiated or undeveloped public
taste, but what is artistically sound is also physiological. None have
ever sung with more ease than those taught by the correct methods of
the old Italian masters; as none run so easily as the wisely trained
athlete, and none endure so well. People in singing and speaking will,
as in other cases, get what they work for, but have no right to expect
to sing or speak effectively by inspiration, any more than the athlete
to win a race because he is born naturally fleet of foot or with a
quick intelligence. In each case the ideas are converted into
performance, the results attained, by the exercise of neuro-muscular
mechanisms. I am most anxious that it shall be perceived that this is
the case, that the same laws apply to voice-production as to running
or any other exercise. The difference is one of delicacy and
complexity so far as the body is concerned.

It will be understood that I speak only of the technique. For art
there must be more than technique, but there is no art without good
methods of execution, which constitute technique. The latter is
nothing more than method--manner of performance. Behind these methods
of performance, or the simplest part of them, there must be some idea.
The more intelligent the student, speaker or singer, as to his art and
generally, the better for the teacher who instructs scientifically,
though such intelligence is largely lost to the teacher who depends on
tradition and pure imitation. In the present work I shall be so
concerned with the physical that I shall be able only to refer briefly
to the part that intelligence and feeling play in the result.

The qualifications for the successful treatment of vocal
physiology--that is, such a discussion of the subject as shall lead to
a clear comprehension of the nature of the principles involved, and
place them on a practical foundation, make them at once usable in
actual study and in teaching--such qualifications are many, and, in
their totality and in an adequate degree, difficult to attain. After
more than twenty years of the best study I could give to this subject
in both a theoretical and a practical manner, I feel that I have
something to say which may be useful to a large class, and, so far as
I know, that is my reason for writing this book.

For myself music is indispensable. The one instrument we all possess
is a voice-mechanism. I am one of those who regret that so little
attention is paid, especially in America, to pleasing and expressive
use of the voice in ordinary conversation. Yet how much pleasure
cannot a beautiful speaking voice convey! The college undergraduate
rarely finds vocal study among the requirements, in spite of the fact
that the voice is an instrument that he will use much more than the
pen. The truth is, the home methods of voice-production are those we
are most likely to carry with us through life, and, unfortunately,
little attention is given to the subject.

Sometimes a love of sweet sounds may be a hidden cause for much that
would otherwise be inexplicable in an entire career, as in my own
case. It led to an early study of singers and actors and their
performances; it gave rise to an effort to form a voice that would
meet the requirements of an unusually sensitive ear; it led to the
practice and teaching of elocution, and, later, to much communion with
voice-users, both singers and speakers. In the meantime came medical
practice, with speedy specialization as a laryngologist, when there
were daily consultations with singers and speakers who had employed
wrong methods of voice-production; this again led on to the scientific
investigation of voice problems, with a view of settling certain
disputed points; then came renewed and deeper study of music, both as
an art and as a science, with a profound interest in the study of the
philosophy of musical art and the psychological study of the musical
artist, all culminating in this attempt to help those who will listen
to me without prejudice. I do not think I know all that is to be
known, but I believe I do know how to form and preserve the voice
according to physiological principles; I at least ask the reader to
give my teachings and recommendations a fair trial. He shall have
reasons for what is presented and recommended to him.

Once more let it be said that I do not deny that good practical
results may follow teaching that is not put before the pupil as
physiology; but what is claimed for physiological teaching is that--

1. It is more rational. The student sees that things must be thus and
so, and not otherwise.

2. Faults can be the better recognized and explained.

3. The student can the more surely guide his own development, and meet
the stress and storm that sooner or later come to every professional

4. Injured voices can be the more effectively restored.

5. The physical welfare of the student is advanced--a matter which I
find is often neglected by teachers of music, though more so in the
case of instrumental than vocal teachers.

6. The student can much more effectively learn from the performances
of others, because he sees that singing and speaking are physical
processes leading to artistic ends. This is perhaps one of the most
valuable results, and I can testify to the greater readiness with
which analysis of a performance can be made after even moderate
advancement. The teacher who is wise will encourage the student to
hear those who excel, and to analyze the methods which successful
artists employ. The student can much more readily accomplish this than
detect the mental movements of the artist, though the two really go
hand in hand to a large extent.

The above are some of the advantages, but by no means all, of a method
of study of voice-production which I must claim is the only rational
one--certainly, the only one that rests on a scientific foundation.

It does not follow that such study, to be scientific, shall be made
repellent by the use of technical terms the significance of which the
reader is left to guess at, but finds unexplained. I fear such
treatment of vocal physiology has brought it into disrepute. The aim
of the writer will be to give a clear scientific treatment of the
subject, which shall not be obscured by unexplained technical terms,
and which shall be _practical_--capable of immediate use by student
and teacher. If he did not believe the latter possible he would not
think it worth while to attempt the former, especially as this has
often been done before, he regrets to say, badly enough.

Although the author has not now the tune to give regular lessons in
voice-production, he is frequently consulted, especially when abroad,
during his vacations, by speakers and especially singers who are
anxious to learn how they may increase their efficiency in the
profession by which they earn their livelihood and make their
reputation; and the reader may be gratified to learn how, in such
cases, the writer applies the principles he so strongly recommends to

Let two or three illustrations suffice:

1. A tenor of world renown consulted him in regard to the position of
the larynx in singing, as he had a suspicion that his practice was not
correct, inasmuch as his voice seemed to be deteriorating to some
extent. The answer to his question need not be given here, as this
subject is discussed adequately in a later chapter.

2. The second was the case of a young lady, an amateur singer, who was
anxious to know why she failed to get satisfactory results. The author
heard her in a large room, without any accompaniment (to cover up
defects, etc.), and standing at first at some distance from her, then
nearer. Her tones were delightfully pure and beautiful, but her
performance suggested rather the sound of some instrument than singing
in the proper sense. It was impossible to learn the ideas to be
imparted, as the words could not be distinctly made out; there was a
monotony in the whole performance, though, it must be confessed, a
beautiful monotony, and there was a total lack of that vigor and
sureness that both educated and uneducated listeners must be made to
feel, or there results a sense of dissatisfaction, if not even

The beauty of tone was owing to a production that was to a certain
extent sound, and this explained why the voice carried well in spite
of its being small. This young lady was well educated, had heard much
good music, possessed a sensitive ear and a fine æsthetic taste, and,
perhaps most important of all, in this case at least, was able to
think for herself. She was very slight of body, with an ill-developed
chest, and, from her appearance, could not have enjoyed robust health.
It was at once evident that this was an admirable case by which to
test the views advocated. Accordingly, the author addressed the young
lady as follows:

"Your voice is beautiful in quality, and carries well; you observe the
registers properly; but your vocalization is feeble, and your singing
is ineffective. This is due largely to the lack of robustness in your
voice, but not wholly. You do not tell your story in song so that the
listener may know what you have to say to him. The imperfections in
your method of speaking, so common in America--an imperfect
articulation and a limp texture of voice--are evident in your singing;
you do not phrase well, and you paint all in one color. This is due
chiefly to your breathing and your attacks. One may observe that at no
time do you fill your chest completely. You use the lower chest and
the diaphragm correctly, but you rob yourself of one half of your
breathing power, and your chest is not at all well developed. You do
not use the parts above your voice-box with vigor and efficiency, and
you direct so much attention to the quality of the tone that you
neglect its quantity and the ideas to be expressed. You have been
correctly but inadequately instructed. Your teachers have evidently
understood registers practically, as few do, but they have only half
taught you breathing and attack. Their fidelity to that high ideal of
quality of tone as the final consideration wins my respect."

The writer thought, but did not say, that they must have understood
little of vocal physiology, or they would not have left this young
lady so ill-developed physically, at least so far as the chest is

I then asked this earnest and intelligent student, as she proved to
be, to take a full breath. She did not understand this, and was
absolutely incapable of doing it. She had been taught to begin
breathing below, to expand from the lower chest upward, and, as a
natural result, she never filled the upper chest. She was at once
shown how it was done, when she seemed greatly surprised, and said: "I
never have done that in my whole life." "Did you not run and shout as
a child?" "No, I never did run enough or shout enough to fill up my
chest." The latter was small, and flat.

The method of attack was next explained and illustrated, first without
reference to words, and then to show its importance in conveying
ideas, and the causes of the defects in speaking were indicated, and
the corrections named and illustrated. The lady was then asked to sing
again, making the improvements suggested, with the result that it was
clear that every principle set forth had been clearly apprehended,
though of course as yet only imperfectly carried out. The student was
recommended to take walking exercise, and to practice filling the
chest in the manner to be explained later.

After six weeks she again asked to be heard. The change effected was
wonderful; she was another type of vocalist now. Without any loss in
quality her voice had a volume and intensity that made it adequate for
singing in at least a small hall; her attacks were good, though not
perfect; and at the end of a very large room it could easily be seen
that her chest was, when necessary, filled full, so that she was able
to produce a large and prolonged tone. But, best of all, her health
had greatly improved, and she had gained in size and weight.

It is but fair to point out that, in the present case, the student was
an unusually intelligent and thoughtful person. Had it been otherwise,
more consultations would have been necessary, with probably many
detailed instructions and much practice before the teacher. But the
case sufficed to convince me afresh that only physiological teaching
meets the needs of pupil and teacher. I do not claim, of course, that
it is a panacea. It will not supply the lack of a musical ear or an
artistic temperament. Vocalization does not make an artist, but there
can be no artist without sound vocalization.

All the author's experience as a laryngologist tended to convince him
that most of those evils from which speakers and singers suffer,
whatever the part of the vocal mechanism affected, arise from faulty
methods of voice-production, or excess in the use of methods in
themselves correct. A showman may have a correct method of
voice-production--indeed, the writer has often studied the showman
with admiration--but if he speak for hours in the open air in all
sorts of weather, a disordered throat is but the natural consequence;
and the Wagnerian singer who will shout instead of sing must not
expect to retain a voice of musical quality, if, indeed, he retain one
at all.

Throughout this work it will be assumed that the speaker and the
singer should employ essentially the same vocal methods. The singer
should be a good speaker, even a good elocutionist, and the speaker
should be able to produce tones equal in beauty, power, and
expressiveness to those of the singer, but, of course, within a more
limited range, and less prolonged, as a rule. To each alike is
voice-training essential, if artistic results are to follow; neither
rhetorical training on the one hand nor musical training on the other
will alone suffice.

So that it may be clear that the same physiological principles apply
to the vocal mechanism as to all others in the body, a short chapter
dealing with this subject is introduced, before taking up the
structure and functions of any part of that apparatus by which the
speaker or singer produces his results as a specialist.

The laws of health known as hygiene follow so naturally on those of
physiology that brief references to this subject, from time to time,
with a chapter at the end of the work bearing specially on the life of
the voice-user, will probably suffice.



The principle that knowledge consists in a perception of relations
will now be applied to the structure and functions or uses of the
different parts of the body.

The demonstration that all animals, even all living things, have
certain properties or functions in common is one of the great results
of modern science. Man no longer can be rightly viewed apart from
other animals. In many respects he is in no wise superior to them. The
most desirable course to pursue is to learn wherein animals resemble
and wherein they differ, without dwelling at great length on the
question of relative superiority or inferiority. It may be
unhesitatingly asserted that all animals live, move, and have their
being, in every essential respect, in the same way. Whether one
considers those creatures of microscopic size living in stagnant
ponds, or man himself, it is found that certain qualities characterize
them all. That minute mass of jelly-like substance known as
protoplasm, constituting the one-celled animal amoeba, may be
described as _ingestive_, _digestive_, _secretory_, _excretory_,
_assimilative_, _respiratory_, _irritable_, _contractile_, and
_reproductive_: that is to say, the amoeba must take in food;
must digest it, or change its form; must produce some fluid within
itself which acts on food; must cast out from itself what is no longer
of any use; must convert the digested material into its own
substance--perhaps the most wonderful property of living things; must
take up into its own substance oxygen, and expel carbonic acid gas
(carbon dioxide); and possess the power to respond to a stimulus, or
cause of change, the property of changing form, and, finally, the
ability to bring into being others like itself.

[Illustration: FIG. 1. Muscle-fibres from the heart, much magnified,
showing cross-stripings, nuclei, or the darkly stained central bodies
very important to the life of the cell, also the divisions and points
of union. (Schäfer's _Histology_.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 2. Appearance of a small portion of muscle under a
moderate magnification. Between the muscle-cells proper a form of
binding tissue may be seen.]

[Illustration: FIG. 3. Muscle-cells isolated from the muscular coats
of the intestine. Similar cells are found in some part of most of the
internal organs, including the bronchial tubes. These cells are less
ready in responding to a stimulus, contract more slowly, and tend to
remain longer contracted when they pass into this condition than
striped muscle cells. (Schäfer.)]

Before justifying these statements in detail it will be desirable to
say something of the anatomy or structure of a mammal, and we may
select man himself, though it is to be remembered that one might apply
exactly the same treatment to a dog, pig, mouse, or any other member
of this group of animals. The amoeba and creatures like it live
immersed in water; man, at the bottom of an ocean of air. Both move in
their own medium, the amoeba creeping with extreme slowness, man
moving with a speed incalculably greater. In each case the movements
are determined by some cause from without which is termed by
physiologists a _stimulus_. The slightest movement of the thin
cover-glass placed over the drop of water in which an amoeba is
immersed, on a microscopic slide, suffices to act as a stimulus, and
serves much the same purpose as an electric shock to the muscles of a
man. In man an elaborate apparatus exists for the process known as
respiration, but in this and in all other cases the mechanism is
composed of what is known technically as _cells_, the latter being the
units of structure, the individual bricks of the building, so to
speak; and just as any edifice is made up of individual pieces some of
which differ from one another while others do not to any appreciable
extent, so is it with the body. The individual cells of a muscle are
alike in structure and function, but they differ widely from those of
a gland or secreting organ, as the liver. But it is to be ever
remembered that the statements with which we set out hold: that is,
that however cells may differ, they have in all animals certain
properties in common. Of the muscle-cell, the liver-cell, and the
one-celled animal we may affirm the same properties, but the
difference is that while all are secretory the liver-cell is eminently
so, and produces bile, which other cells do not; that while it is but
feebly contractile, or susceptible of change of form, the muscle-cell
is characterized by this property above all others.

The lower we descend in the animal scale the more simple are the
mechanisms by which results are attained. The one-celled animal may be
said to breathe with its whole body, while the man employs a large
number of muscles, not to speak, at present, of other arrangements.
But when a muscle is examined under the microscope, it is found to
consist of cells, each one of which is physiologically in all
essentials like an amoeba, so that we may say that a muscle or other
tissue or organ is really a sort of colony of cells of similar
structure and function, all working in harmony like a happy family. We
actually do find colonies of unicellular animals much like amoeba,
so that the muscle-cells and all other cells of the body may be
compared to amoeba and other one-celled animals.

But while in such unicellular creatures all functions are properties
of the individual cell, among higher forms _systems_ take the place of
the protoplasm of the single cell. There is a circulatory system, a
respiratory system, etc.; but we must once more point out that such
systems are made up of cells, so that every function of the highest
animal may be finally reduced to what takes place in the unicellular
animal. A circulatory system consists of a heart and blood-vessels,
all filled with blood, which latter is "the life," as was known from
the earliest times; yet this same blood is of no more use for the
nourishment of the body while it is contained in those tubes which
constitute the blood-vessels than is bread locked up in a pantry to a
hungry boy. That which really provides the nutriment for the body is a
fluid derived from the blood, a something like the liquid part of
blood and known as _lymph_. This latter is to the cells of any tissue,
as a muscle, as is the water filled with the food on which an amoeba
lives. In like manner, in spite of the complicated apparatus which
supplies oxygen and removes carbon dioxide, the respiratory system,
respiration is finally the work of the cell, as in amoeba; a
muscle-cell respires exactly as does the one-celled animal.

When we consider the marvellous complexity of structure of one of the
higher animals, and the amazing variety of its functions, the question
naturally arises as to how all this is brought about without any sort
of clashing of the interests of one part with those of another. Why is
it that the stomach has enough and not too much blood? By what means
has Nature solved the problem of supplying more oxygen to parts in
action than to those at rest? How is it that one set of muscles acts
with instead of antagonizing another set, as in any complicated series
of movements, such as walking?

To bring about this harmonization, or _co-ordination_, the nervous
system has been provided. As the nervous and muscular systems are of
preëminent importance in voice-production, they will now be considered
with more detail than it is necessary to give to other systems.

Complicated as is the nervous system, modern advances in the sciences
of anatomy and physiology have made the comprehension of the subject
easier. It is now known that the nervous system, in spite of its wide
ramifications, is also made up of cells which are structurally and
functionally related to each other, and make connection with every
part of the whole community, the body. A nerve-cell, or _neurone_, may
be very complicated in its structure because of its many branches
or extensions from the main body of the cell.

[Illustration: FIG. 4. Body of a nerve-cell of the spinal cord,
specially stained so as to show the minute structure. (Schäfer's

[Illustration: FIG. 5. A large nerve-cell from the spinal cord of the
ox, magnified 175 diameters. (Schäfer.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 6. A cell of another form, from the superficial or
outer part of the greater brain (cortex cerebri). The great amount of
branching is suggestive of the power to receive and to transmit
nervous influences (impulses) from various other cells; in other
words, complexity of structure suggests a corresponding complexity of

[Illustration: FIG. 7. Representation of the manner in which a nerve
is seen to terminate in a muscle, such ending being one form of
"nerve-ending" termed a "muscle plate." It tends to emphasize the
close relationship existing between muscle and nerve, and to justify
the expression "neuro-muscular mechanism," the nervous system being as
important for movements as the muscles. (Schäfer's _Histology_.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 8. Three muscle-fibres lying beside each other,
with the small blood-vessels (capillaries) around and between them.
Such are the appearances presented under the microscope by skeletal or
striped muscles such as those of the larynx. (Schäfer.)]

It may be said, in general terms, that the nervous _centres_, the
brain and the spinal cord, which are parts of one anatomical whole,
are characterized by the presence of the cell-bodies as well as their
extensions, while nerves consist only of the extensions or arms of the
cell-bodies. The nerve-cell whose body is in the top of the brain may
have an extension or arm which may reach practically to the end of the
spinal cord, and there make communication with another cell whose arm,
in turn, may reach as far as the toe. Such nerve arms or extensions
constitute the _nerve-fibres_, and bundles of these _nerves_, or

Usually nerve-fibres make connection with the cells of an organ by a
special modification of structure known as a _nerve-ending_. A nervous
message or influence (_nerve-impulse_) may pass either to the
centre--_i.e._, toward a cell-body--or from it; in other words, a
nervous impulse may originate in the centre or in some organ more or
less distant from it; a nervous impulse may be _central_ or
_peripheral_. Nearly all central impulses, we now know, arise because
of the peripheral ones. One may illustrate this important relation by
a telegraph system. The message a railroad operator sends out--_e.g._,
that which determines whether a train is to be held at a certain
station or sent on--might depend wholly on information received from
another office. The extra flow of blood to the stomach when food
enters it is owing to such a relation of things. The food acts as a
stimulus to the ends of the nerve-fibres, and, in consequence, there
is an ingoing (_afferent_) message or impulse, and, by reason of this,
an outgoing (_efferent_) one to the muscle-cells of the small
blood-vessels, owing to which they contract less strongly and the
calibre of these vessels is increased; hence more blood reaches the
smallest vessels of all (_capillaries_.) Such a physiological relation
of things is termed _reflex action_. For such reflex action there are
required structurally at least two neurones or nerve-cells, and
functionally a stimulus of a certain strength and quality. Of course,
if more blood passes to the stomach there must be less somewhere else,
as the total volume of the blood is limited. The value of the
knowledge of such a fact is obvious. It must be unwise to exercise
vigorously immediately after meals, for this determines blood to the
muscles which would serve a better purpose in the digestive organs.
For a like reason the singer who would do his best before the public
will refrain from taking a large meal before appearing.

As this subject of reflex action is of the highest importance, the
reader is advised to make himself thoroughly familiar with the
principles involved before perusing the future chapters of this work.
Fig. 16 shows the structural relations for reflex action. It also
indicates how such nervous relations may be complicated by other
connections of the nerve-cells involved in the reflex action. It will
be seen that they make many upward connections with the brain, in
consequence of which consciousness may be involved. Ordinarily one is
more or less conscious of reflex action, though the will is not
involved; in fact, a willed or voluntary action is usually considered
the reverse of a reflex or involuntary action. But for a reflex action
the brain is not essential. As is well known, a snake's hinder part
will move in response to a touch when completely severed from the head
end; and movements of considerable complexity can be evoked in a
headless frog.

Herein, then, lies the solution of the problem. This is Nature's way
of bringing one part into harmonious relations with another. As by a
telegraphic system the most distant parts of a vast railway system may
be brought into harmonious working, so is it with the body by means of
the nervous system. The nerve-centres correspond to the heads of the
railway system, or, perhaps more correctly, to the various officials
resident in some large city who from this centre regulate the affairs
of the whole line.

The muscular system is made up of cells of two kinds, those
characteristic of the muscles used in ordinary movements, and those
employed for the movements of the internal organs. The muscles of the
limbs are made up of striped muscle-cells; those of the stomach, etc.,
of unstriped cells. These latter are slower to act when stimulated,
contract more slowly, and cease to function more tardily when the
stimulus is withdrawn.

The muscular mechanisms used by the singer and speaker are of the
skeletal variety.

If it be true that the welfare of one part of the body is bound up
with that of every other, as are the interests of one member of a firm
with those of another, in a great business, it will at once appear
that the most perfect results can follow for the voice-user only under
certain conditions. However perfect by nature the vocal mechanism, the
result in any case must be largely determined by the character of the
body as a whole. The man of fine physique generally has naturally more
to hope for than one with an ill-developed body.

In the natural working of the body the stimulus to a muscle is
nervous; hence we may appropriately, and often to advantage, speak of
_neuro-muscular_ mechanism, the nervous element being as important as
the muscular.

In a later chapter it will be shown that the work of the singer and
speaker when most successfully carried out must be largely reflex in
nature--a fact on which hang weighty considerations with regard to
many questions, among them methods of practice, the influence of
example, etc.--be he ever so much the natural artist. It will be the
writer's aim, however, to give such warnings and advice as may assist
each reader in his own best development. Many who began with a
comparatively poor physical stock in trade have surpassed the
self-satisfied ones who trusted too much to what nature gave them.
Singers as well as others would do well to believe that _Labor omnia


The same fundamental physiological principles apply to the lowest and
to the highest animals. To all belong certain properties or qualities.
As structure is differentiated, or as one animal differs from another
owing to greater or less complexity of form, there is a corresponding
differentiation of function, none, however, ever losing the
fundamental properties of protoplasm. Each organ comes to perform some
one function better than all others. This is specialization, and
implies advance among animals as it does in civilization.

The neuro-muscular system is of great moment to the voice-user. He is
a specialist as regards the neuro-muscular systems of the vocal
mechanism. But the same laws apply to it as to other neuro-muscular
mechanisms. It is of great theoretical and practical importance to
recognize this, and that one part of the body is related to every
other, which relationship is maintained chiefly by the nervous system,
and largely through reflex action.



If the old orator was right in considering _delivery_ as the essence
of public speaking as an art, it may with equal truth be said of
singing, the term being always so extended in signification as to
imply what Rossini named as the essential for the singer--_voice_.

Looking at it from the physiological point of view, we may say that
the one absolutely essential thing for singers and speakers is
breathing. Without methods of breathing that are correct and adequate
there may be a perfect larynx and admirably formed resonance-chambers
above the vocal bands, with very unsatisfactory results. The more the
writer knows of singers and speakers, the more deeply does he become
convinced that singing and speaking may be resolved into the correct
use of the breathing apparatus, above all else. Not that this alone
will suffice, but it is the most important, and determines more than
any other factor the question of success or failure. Breathing is the
key-note with which we must begin, and to which we must return again
and again.

The extent to which this subject has been misunderstood,
misrepresented, and obscured in works on the voice, and its neglect by
so large a number of those who profess to understand how to teach
singing and public speaking, are truly amazing. That many should fail
to fully appreciate its importance in attaining artistic results is
not so surprising as that the process itself should have been so ill
understood, especially as it is open to any one to observe in himself,
or in our domestic animals, Nature's method of getting air into and
out of the body.

[Illustration: FIG. 9. A front view of parts of the respiratory
apparatus. (Halliburton's Physiology.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 9. A back view of the parts represented in Fig. 9.
(Halliburton's Physiology.)] [Transcriber's Note: numbered thus in

[Illustration: FIG. 10 (Spalteholz). A view of the lower part of the
trachea, dividing into the main bronchial tubes, which again branch
into a tree-like form. The air-cells are built up around the
terminations of the finest bronchial tubes, of which they are a sort
of membranous extension.]

[Illustration: FIG. 11 (Spalteholz). Shows well the relations of
heart, lungs, and diaphragm. The lungs have been drawn back, otherwise
the heart would be covered almost wholly by them. It will be noted
that the heart-covering is attached to the diaphragm. The fact that
the stomach and other important organs of the abdomen lie immediately
beneath the diaphragm is a significant one for the voice-user.
Manifestly, a full stomach and free, vigorous breathing are

This misapprehension is in all probability to be traced to the
dependence of the student and teacher on tradition rather than
observation--on authority rather than rational judgment. If a great
teacher or singer makes any announcement whatever in regard to the
technique of his art, it is natural that it should be considered with
attention, but it may prove a great misfortune for the individual to
accept it without thoughtful consideration. The author will
illustrate, from time to time, the truth of the above.

In this and all other chapters of this work the student, by which term
I mean every one who is seriously interested in the use of the voice,
is recommended to give attention, before reading on any subject, to
the illustrations employed, perusing very carefully the explanatory
remarks beneath them.

The author considers the summaries at the conclusion of the chapters
of much importance. They not only furnish exact and condensed
statements of the main facts and principles involved, but afford the
reader a test of the extent to which the foregoing chapter has been
comprehended. As the author has a horror of what is termed "cramming,"
he expresses the hope that no student will use these synopses, which
have been prepared with much care, for so great a misuse of the mind
as cramming implies.

Breathing is essential for life. The oxygen of the air is, of all
food-stuffs, the most important. Without it a mammal will perish in
less than three minutes; hence there is no need of the body so urgent
as that of oxygen. It is also of great moment that the waste--the
carbon dioxide, or carbonic acid gas--should be got rid of rapidly;
nevertheless, it is not this gas which kills when the air-passages are
closed, though it is highly deleterious. The body is a sort of furnace
in which combustions are continually going on, and oxygen is as
essential for these as for the burning of a candle, and the products
are in each case the same.

Whether the voice-user respires, like others, to maintain the
functions of the body, or whether he employs the breathing apparatus
to produce sound, it is to be borne in mind that he uses the same
physical mechanisms, so that the way is at once clear to consider the
anatomy and physiology of the breathing organs.

It has been already pointed out that respiration is in all animals, in
the end, the same process. The one-celled animal and the muscle-cell
respire in the same way, and with the same results--oxidation,
combustion, and resulting waste products. In the animal of complicated
structure special mechanisms are necessary that the essential oxygen
be brought to the blood and the useless carbon dioxide removed. The
respiratory organs or tract include the mouth, nose, larynx, trachea,
bronchial tubes, and the lung-tissue proper or the air-cells.

The mouth, nose, and larynx, in so far as they are of special
importance in voice-production, will be considered later.

The air enters the trachea, or windpipe, through a relatively narrow
slit in the larynx, or voice-box, known as the _glottis_, or _chink of
the glottis_, which is wider when air is being taken in
(_inspiration_) than when it is being expelled (_expiration_). Life
depends on this chink being kept open. The windpipe is composed of a
series of cartilaginous or gristly rings connected together by softer
tissues. These rings are not entire, but are completed behind by soft
tissues including muscle. It follows that this tube is pliable and
extensible--a very important provision, especially when large
movements of the neck are made, during vigorous exercise, and also in
singing and speaking.

The bronchial tubes are the tree-like branches of the trachea, and
extend to the air-cells themselves, which may be considered as built
up around them in some such fashion as a toy balloon on its wooden
stem, but with many infoldings, etc. (Fig. 10). The air-cells are
composed of a membrane which may be compared to the walls of the
balloon, but we are of course dealing with living tissue supplied by
countless blood-vessels of the most minute calibre, in which the blood
is brought very near to the air which passes over them.

Throughout, the respiratory tract is lined with mucous membrane.
Mucous membranes are so named because they secrete mucus, the fluid
which moistens the nose, mouth, and all parts of the respiratory
tract. When one suffers from a cold the mucous membrane, in the early
stages, may become dry from failure of this natural secretion; hence
sneezing, coughing, etc., as the air then acts as an irritant.

At no time do we breathe pure oxygen, but "air"--_i.e._, a mixture of
21 parts of the former with 79 parts of an inert gas, nitrogen; and
there is always in the air more oxygen than the blood actually takes
from it in the air-cells.

The intaking of air is termed by physiologists _inspiration_, and its
expulsion _expiration_, the whole process being _respiration_.
Expiration takes a very little longer than inspiration, and the
rapidity of respiration depends on the needs of the body. The more
active the exercise, the more rapidly vital processes go on, the more
ventilation of the tissues is required and the more is actually
effected. When one is at rest breathing takes place at the rate of
from 14 to 18 inspirations and expirations in the minute; but of all
the processes of the body none is more variable than respiration,
and of necessity, for every modification of action, every movement,
implies a demand for an increased quantity of oxygen. It is not
surprising, therefore, that the very exercise of singing tends in
itself to put one out of breath.

[Illustration: FIG. 12. In the above, the shaded outlines indicate the
shape of the bony cage of the chest during inspiration, and the
lighter ones the same during expiration. The alterations in the
position of the ribs and in the diameters of the chest, giving rise to
its greater capacity during inspiration, are evident.]

[Illustration: FIG. 13. This figure is intended to indicate, in a
purely diagrammatic way, by dotted lines, the position of the
diaphragm (1) when inspiration is moderate, and (2) when very deep.
The unbroken curved line above the dotted ones indicates the position
of the diaphragm (only approximately, of course) after expiration.]

Attention will now be directed to some facts that it is of the utmost
importance to clearly understand, if one is to know how to breathe and
the reasons for the method employed. The lungs are contained in a
cavity the walls of which are made up of a domed muscular (and
tendinous) structure below, and elsewhere of bony and cartilaginous
tissues filled in with soft structures, chiefly muscles. This cage is
lined within by a smooth membrane which is kept constantly moist by
its own secretion. The lungs are covered by a similar membrane, both
of these fitting closely like the hand to a glove, so that there are
two smooth membranes in opposition. It cannot be too well remembered
that these two, the inner surface of the chest walls and the outer
surface of the lungs, are in the closest contact. This is so whatever
the changes that take place in the size and shape of the chest. The
lungs are concave below, and so fit accurately to the fleshy partition
between the chest and the abdomen which constitutes the lower boundary
of the chest, if we may use the term "chest" somewhat loosely. Above,
suiting the shape of the chest, the lungs are somewhat conical.

The pressure of the air tends of itself to expand the lungs, which are
highly elastic, even when one does not breathe at all. But if more
air is to enter there must be additional space provided; hence greater
expansion of the lungs can only follow an enlargement of the chest
cavity in one or in all directions. These are spoken of as
_diameters_. It follows that it is possible to conceive of the chest
being enlarged in three, and only three, directions; so that it may be
increased in size in its vertical, its transverse, and its
antero-posterior diameter, or diameter from before backwards.

This expansion, as in the case of all other movements, can be effected
only by muscles, or, to speak more accurately, by neuro-muscular
mechanisms. Exactly what muscles are employed may be learned from the
accompanying illustrations and by observation. While it is highly
important to know in a general way which muscles are chiefly
concerned, or, rather, where they are situated, it cannot be deemed
essential for every reader to learn their names, attachments, etc.,
down to the minutest details, as in the case of a student of anatomy
proper. The author does, however, deem it of the highest importance
that the student should learn by actual observation on his own person
that his chest does expand in each of the three directions indicated

It is not necessary to dissect to observe muscles; in fact, they can
be seen in action only on the living subject. All who would really
understand breathing should study the chest when divested of all
clothing and before a sufficiently large mirror. He may then observe
the following during a fairly deep inspiration:

1. The chest is enlarged as a whole.

2. The abdominal walls move outward.

3. The ribs pass from a more oblique to a less oblique position, and
may become almost horizontal; their upper edges are also turned out
slightly, though this is not so easy to observe.

4. Again, in the case of a very deep and sudden inspiration, the
abdomen and the lower ribs also are drawn inward.

The changes above referred to are brought about in this way:

1. The total enlargement is due to the action of many muscles which
function in harmony with each other.

2. The chief changes are brought about by those muscles attached
between the ribs (_intercostales_); but these act more efficiently
owing to the coöperation of other muscles which steady the ribs and
chest generally, such as those attached to the shoulder-bones and the
upper ribs; indeed, the most powerful inspiration possible can only be
effected when most of the other muscles of the body are brought into
action. One may observe that even the arms and legs are called into
requisition when a tenor sings his highest tone as forcibly as
possible, though this is often overdone in a way to be condemned. Art
should not be reduced to a gymnastic feat.

The most important muscle of inspiration is the _diaphragm_, or
midriff, because it produces a greater change in the size of the chest
than any other single muscle. Some animals can get the oxygen they
require to maintain life by the action of this large muscle alone,
when all other respiratory muscles are paralyzed. As it is so
important, and above all to the voice-user, it merits special

In studying the action of a muscle it is necessary to note its _points
of attachment_ to harder structures, either bone or cartilage. Nearly
always one such point is more fixed than the other, and from this the
muscle pulls when it contracts.

The diaphragm is peculiar in that it is somewhat circular in shape and
is more or less tendinous or sinew-like in the middle. Being attached
to the spinal column behind and to the lower six or seven ribs, when
the muscle contracts it becomes less domed in shape--less convex
upward--and of course descends to a variable degree depending on the
extent of the muscular contraction. As to whether the ribs, and with
them the abdominal muscles, are drawn in or the reverse, is determined
wholly by the degree of force with which the contraction takes place
and the extent to which it is resisted. Throughout the body muscles
are arranged in sets which may either coöperate with or antagonize
each other, as required. The forcible bending of one's arm by another
person may be resisted by one through the use of certain muscles. In
this the action of the muscles which bend the arm is imitated by the
agent seeking to perform this movement for us. The muscles acting in
opposition to certain others are said to be their _antagonists_.

Were the diaphragm to contract moderately the ribs would be but little
drawn in, even if no muscles acted as antagonists. But, as a matter of
fact, this domed muscle descends at the same time as the ribs ascend,
because of the action of the muscles attached to them. The diaphragm
being concave below toward the abdomen, the contents of this cavity
fit closely to its under surface. There are found the liver, stomach,
intestines, etc.--a part of great practical importance, as will be
shown presently.

Naturally, in breathing, the organs of the abdomen, especially those
above, are pressed down somewhat with the descent of the diaphragm in
inspiration, and, in turn, push out the abdominal walls. If, however,
the midriff contract so powerfully that the lower ribs are drawn
inward, the abdominal walls follow them. Although the actual extent of
the descent of the diaphragm is small in itself, since the total
surface is large it effects a very considerable enlargement of the
chest in the vertical diameter.

The capacity of the lungs for air is a very variable quantity:

1. The quantity of air taken in with a single inspiration in quiet
breathing (_tidal air_) is about 20-30 cubic inches.

2. The quantity taken in with the deepest possible inspiration
(_complemental air_) is about 100 cubic inches.

3. The quantity that may be expelled by the most forcible expiration
(_supplemental air_) is about 100 cubic inches.

4. The quantity that can under no circumstances be expelled (_residual
air_) is about 100 cubic inches.

5. The quantity that can be expelled after the most forcible
inspiration--_i.e._, the amount of air that can be moved--indicates
the _vital capacity_. This varies very much with the individual, and
depends not a little on the elasticity of the chest walls, and so
diminishes with age. It follows that youth is the best period for the
development of the chest, and the time to learn that special
breath-control so essential to good singing and speaking.

When the ribs have been raised by inspiration and the abdominal organs
pressed down by the diaphragm, the chest, on the cessation of the act,
tends to resume its former shape, owing to elastic recoil quite apart
from all muscular action; in other words, inspiration is active,
expiration largely passive. With the voice-user, especially the
singer, expiration becomes the more important, and the more difficult
to control, as will be shown later.

It must now be apparent that such use of the voice as is necessitated
by speaking for the public, or by singing, still more, perhaps, must
tend to the general welfare of the body--_i.e._, the hygiene of
respiration is evident from the physiology. Actual experience proves
this to be the case. The author has known the greatest improvement in
health and vigor follow on the judicious use of the voice, owing
largely to a more active respiration. It also follows, however, that
exhaustion may result from the excessive use of the respiratory
muscles, as with any others, even when the method of chest-expansion
is quite correct. Before condemning any vocal method one does well to
inquire in regard to the extent to which it has been employed, as well
as the circumstances of the voice-user. A poor clergyman worried with
the fear of being supplanted by another man, or a singer unable to
secure employment, possibly from lack of means to advertise himself,
is not likely to grow fat under any method of vocal exercise, be it
ever so physiological; while the prima donna who has chanced to please
the popular taste and become a favorite may "wax fat and kick."

[Illustration: FIGS. 14, A and B, are to be compared: that on the left
shows the position of the diaphragm, abdominal walls, etc., during
expiration; the one on the right, during inspiration. The relative
quantities of air in the chest in each case are approximately
indicated by the shaded areas.]



When one takes into account the large number of muscles employed in
respiration, and remembers that these muscles must act in perfect
harmony with each other if the great end is to be attained, he
naturally inquires how this complex series of muscular contractions
has been brought into concerted action so as to result in that
physiological unity known as breathing.

It is impossible to conceive of such results being effected except
through the influence of the nervous system, which acts as a sort of
regulator throughout the whole economy. All the parts of the
respiratory tract are supplied with nerves, which are of both
kinds--those which carry nervous impulses or messages from and those
which convey them to the nervous centres concerned; in other words, to
and from the bodies of the nerve-cells whose extensions are termed
nerves. These centres are the central offices where the information is
received and from which orders are issued, so to speak.

The chief respiratory centre--_the_ centre--is situated in that
portion of the brain just above the spinal cord, in its continuation,
in fact, and is known as the _medulla oblongata_, or _bulb_. But
while this is the head centre, at which the ingoing (_afferent_)
impulses are received and from which the outgoing (_efferent_) ones
proceed, it makes use of many other collections of nerve-cells, or
subordinate centres--_e.g._, those whose nerve-extensions or
nerve-fibres proceed from the spinal cord to the muscles of

[Illustration: FIG. 15. The purpose of this diagram is to indicate the
relation between ingoing (afferent) and outgoing (efferent) nervous
influences (impulses)--in other words, to illustrate _reflex action_.
The paths of the ingoing impulses are indicated by black lines, and
those of the outgoing ones by red lines, the point of termination
being shown by an arrow-tip. The result of an ingoing message may be
either favorable or unfavorable. The nervous impulse that reaches the
brain through the eye may be either exhilarating or depressing. The
experienced singer is usually stimulated by the sight of an audience,
while the beginner may be rendered nervous, and this may express
itself in many and widely distant parts of the body. An unfavorable
message may reach the diaphragm or intercostal muscles, and render
breathing shallow, irregular, or, in the worst cases, almost gasping.
The heart or stomach, even the muscles of the larynx, the limbs, etc.,
may be affected, and trembling be the result. On the other hand, the
laryngeal and other muscles may be toned up, and the voice rendered
better than usual, as a result of applause--_i.e._, by nervous
impulses through the ear--or, again, by the sight of a friend. Even a
very tight glove or a pinching shoe may suffice to hamper the action
of the muscles required for singing or speaking. All this is a result
of reflex action--_i.e._, outgoing messages set up by ingoing
ones--the "centre" being either the brain or the spinal cord. From all
this it is evident that the singer or speaker must guard against
everything unfavorable, to an extent that an ordinary person need not.
The stomach, as the diagram is also meant to show, may express itself
on the brain, and give rise, as in fact it often does, owing to
indiscretion in eating, to unpleasant outward effects on the muscles
required in singing or speaking. Of course, no attempt has been made
in the above figure to express anatomical forms and relations

When all the ingoing impulses from the lungs, etc., are cut off, if
respiration does not actually cease, it is carried out in a way so
ineffective that life cannot be long sustained. It follows that as the
muscular contractions necessary for the chest and other respiratory
movements are dependent on the impulses passing in from the lungs,
etc., breathing belongs to the class of movements known as
reflex--chiefly so, at all events. It will thus be seen that
respiration is a sort of self-regulative process, the movements being
in proportion to the needs of the body. The greater the need for
oxygen, the more are the nerve-terminals in the lungs and the centre
itself stimulated, with, as a result, corresponding outgoing impulses
to muscles.

As the respiratory centre is readily reached by impulses from every
part of the body, like one who keeps open house, there are many
different sorts of visitors, not all desirable. If, for example, a
drop of a fluid that produces no special effect when on the tongue
gets into the larynx, trachea, or lungs, the most violent coughing
follows. This is one illustration of the _protective_ character of
many reflexes. This violent action of the respiratory apparatus is
not in itself a desirable thing, because it disturbs if it does not
exhaust, but it is preferable to the inflammation that might result if
the fluid, a bread-crumb, etc., were to pass into the lungs.

In like manner, the deep breath and the "Oh!" that follow a
fear-inspiring sight, a very loud noise, or a severe pinch of the
skin, are examples of reflex action. They are quite independent of the
will, though in some cases they may be prevented by it.

This reflex nature of breathing throws much light on many matters of
great interest to the speaker and singer, some of which, as the
formation of good habits of breathing, will be considered later.
Unfortunately for the nervous débutant, his breathing is anything but
what he could wish it. The pale face and almost gasping respiration,
in the worst cases, are not unknown to the experienced observer. In
such cases the preventive (_inhibitory_) influence of certain ingoing
impulses is but too obvious. Such undesirable messages may pass in
through the eyes when the young singer looks out on the throng that
may either approve or condemn; or they may originate within, and pass
from the higher part of the brain to the lower breathing centre. The
beginner may have high ideals of art, and fear that they will be but
ill realized in his performance. His ideals in this instance do not
help but hinder, for they interfere with the regular action of the
breathing centre. A few deep breaths after the platform has been
reached greatly help under such circumstances. It is also wise for the
singer to avoid those songs that begin softly and require long breaths
and very evenly sustained tones. It is much better to begin with a
selection that brings the breathing organs into fairly active exercise
at once. One feeble, hesitating, or otherwise ineffective tone is in
itself a stimulus of the wrong kind, sending in unfavorable messages
which are only too apt to reach the breathing and other centres
concerned in voice-production; but of this subject of nervousness

It is important to realize that sounds, whether musical or the
reverse, are produced by the outgoing stream of breath, by an
expiratory effort. Breath is taken in by the voice-producer in order
to be converted into that expiratory force which, playing on the vocal
bands, causes them to vibrate or pass into the rapid movements which
give rise to similar movements of the air in the cavities above the
larynx, the resonance-chambers, and on which the final result as
regards sound is dependent. Important as is inspiration to the speaker
and singer, expiration is much more so. Many persons fill the lungs
well, but do not understand how to husband their resources, and so
waste breath instead of converting every particle into sound, so to
speak. After the larynx has been studied the importance of the
expiratory blast will be better understood.

For the voice-user, it cannot be too soon realized that _all breath
that does not become sound is wasted_, or, to express the same truth
otherwise, the sole purpose of breathing is to cause effective
vibrations of the vocal bands. In these two words, _effective
vibrations_, lies the whole secret of voice production, the whole
purpose of training, the key to the highest technical results, the
cause of success or failure for those who speak or sing.

Before the larynx, the apparatus that produces sound-vibrations, can
be effectively employed, the source of power, the bellows, must be
developed. To some Nature has been generous--they have large chests;
to others she has given a smaller wind-chest, but has perhaps
compensated by providing an especially fine voice-box. Happy are they
who have both, and thrice happy those who have all three requirements:
a fine chest, a well-constructed larynx, and beautifully formed
resonance-chambers. If with all these there are the musical ear and
the artistic temperament, we have the singer who is born great. These
are the very few. To most it must be--if greatness at all--greatness
thrust upon them, greatness the result of long and patient effort to
attain perfect development. Indeed, even those with the most complete
natural outfit can only reach the highest results of which they are
capable by long and patient application. Those who do not believe in
attainment only through labor would do well to abandon an art career,
as there is already a great deal too much poor speaking and bad



The first great requisite for a voice-user is a well-developed chest;
the next, complete control of it, or, to put it otherwise, the art of
breathing, as briefly explained above.

The chest may be large enough, yet not be, in the physiological sense,
developed. The voice-user is a sort of athlete, a specialist whose
chest muscles must be strong and not covered up by very much
superfluous tissue in the form of fat, etc. Whatever the public may
think of the goodly form, the singer must remember that fat is
practically of no use to any one in voice-production, and may prove a
great hindrance, possibly in some cases being a coöperative cause of
that _tremolo_ so fatal to good singing.

[Illustration: FIG. 16. The appearance of a well-developed, healthy
person, with special reference to the chest.]

[Illustration: FIG. 17. The appearance of the chest after undue
compression, as with corsets.]

[Illustration: FIG. 18. In this figure, the dark curved line in the
middle is meant to represent the position, etc., of the diaphragm,
beneath which, and fitting closely to it, are the liver, stomach, and
other abdominal organs, in this case not pressed upon or injured in
any way. This represents the normal human being.]

[Illustration: FIG. 19. A condition the reverse of that represented in
the preceding. The vital organs are pressed upon, with results some of
which are obvious; others equally serious are not such as appear to
the eye.]

The voice-user should eschew ease and take plenty of exercise, but
most of all must he use those forms of exercise which develop the
breathing apparatus and tend to keep it in the best condition.
Walking, running, and hill climbing are all excellent, but do not in
themselves suffice to develop the chest to the utmost.

To the beginner the following exercises are strongly recommended. They
are highly important for all, whether beginners or not, who would
have the best development of the breathing apparatus.

Deep breathing, such a use of the respiratory organs as leads to the
greatest possible expansion of the chest, should be learned and
practised, if not absolutely before vocal exercises are attempted, at
all events as soon after as possible. As in all cases where muscles
are employed, the exercise should be _graduated_. It may be even
harmful to attempt to fill the chest to its utmost capacity at once.
It is better to breathe very moderately for several days. Any such
symptoms as dizziness or headache accompanying or following the
exercises indicate that they have been too vigorous, too long
continued, or carried out under unsuitable conditions. Above all must
the air be pure, and the body absolutely unhampered--most of all, the
chest--by any form of clothing. Last century most ladies and some men
applied to the chest a form of apparatus known as corsets, under the
mistaken belief that they were for women a necessary support and
improved the figure. They no doubt were responsible for much lack of
development, and feeble health, and, as has been proved by examination
of the body after death, led to compression of the liver and other
organs. No voice-user should use such an effective means of preventing
the very thing he should most desire, a full and free use of the
breathing apparatus.

Before carrying out the exercises suggested or others equally good,
the student is recommended to be weighed, and especially to have the
chest carefully _measured_. This can be done with sufficient accuracy
by the use of a tape-measure. It will be well to take the
circumference a few inches above and below a certain point, so that it
may be ascertained that the chest expands in every region. The
measurements should be taken under the following conditions:

1. The chest should be almost or wholly divested of clothing.

2. Its circumference is to be ascertained--(_a_) when the breath has
been allowed to pass out gently, and before a new breath is taken;
(_b_) with the deepest possible inspiration; (_c_) after the deepest
possible expiration, which has been preceded by a similar inspiration.

After about three weeks the individual should be again measured, by
the same person, in exactly the same way, in order to learn whether
there has been development or not, and, if so, how much. It is
important that the measurements should be made at exactly the same
horizontal planes, and with this end in view it is desirable to put a
small mark of some kind on the chest, which may remain till the next
measurements are made.

The method of breathing recommended is as follows:

1. Inhale very slowly through the nostrils, with closed mouth,
counting mentally one, two, three, four, etc., with regularity.

2. Hold the breath thus taken, but only for a short time, counting in
the same manner as before.

3. Exhale slowly, still counting.

After a few moments' rest the exercise may be again carried out in the
same way. These exercises may be in series, several times a day.

The following warnings are especially to be observed:

1. Never continue any exercise when there is a sense of discomfort of
any kind whatever. Such usually indicates that it is being carried out
too vigorously.

2. Increase the depth of the inspirations daily, but not very rapidly.

3. The inspirations and expirations should both be carried out very
slowly at first.

4. Cease the exercise before any sense of fatigue is experienced.
Fatigue is Nature's warning, and should be always obeyed. It indicates
that the waste products which result from the use of the muscles are
accumulating and proving harmful.

After a week of such exercises the following modification of them is

1. Inhale with the lips slightly apart.

2. Gradually increase the length of the time the breath is held, but
let it never exceed a few seconds.

3. Through open lips allow the breath to pass out, but with extreme
slowness. The student should try to increase this last, somewhat,
daily, as it is above all what is required in singing, and also in
speaking, though to a somewhat less degree--a slow, regulated
expulsion of the breath.

If when the chest is full of air the subject gently raises the arms
over the head, or directs them backward, he will experience a sense of
pressure on the chest. If this be carefully done, its effect is to
strengthen, and it is especially valuable for those inclined to stoop.
The recommendation to inspire through the open lips applies only when
one is in a room, or in the open air when it is warm enough and free
from dust. But the student should learn to inspire through the
slightly open mouth, as to breathe through the nose in speaking, and
especially in singing, is objectionable for several reasons which can
be better explained later; so that the rule is to _breathe through the
nose when not using the voice, and through the mouth when one does_.

Though all the exercises thus far referred to tend to develop the
diaphragm and abdominal muscles, these may be strengthened by special
exercises. The diaphragm is the soft floor of the chest, and must at
once bear the strain of the air that acts on the approximated vocal
bands, and assist in applying that pressure with just the amount of
force required, and no more; hence it is important that this muscle be
both strong and under perfect control. This large central muscle is
probably not only the most generally effective of all the respiratory
muscles, but has an action more precise and often more delicate, more
nicely controlled, than that of any other. It is possible to make very
powerful movements of this muscle, and an exercise that will cause it
to descend deeply and remain in a tense condition is valuable. To
effect this, one pushes it down as far as possible, and holds it there
for a few seconds, then permits it to relax gradually. The extent to
which this is successful can be inferred from the degree to which the
abdominal wall bulges forward.

The sudden though slight movements required in those forms of
vocalization that bear more or less resemblance to what vocalists term
_staccato_, and which are so effective in dramatic speaking and
singing, can be prepared for by larger but sudden movements of the
diaphragm, as when one taking a full breath imitates coughing
movements, but in a regular and measured way, the throat being used
but little. At the same time, or separately, the abdominal muscles may
be effectively exercised by being drawn in and thrust out with
considerable force.

None of these movements are elegant--they scarcely put one in an
artistic light; but they are highly effective in strengthening parts
every voice-user must employ.

To furnish adequate support for the diaphragm and chest in a very
vigorous use of the voice, as in the most trying passages a tragic
actor has to speak or a vocalist to sing, the abdominal muscles must
remain more or less tense, and to do so effectually they must have
strength beyond that possessed by the corresponding muscles in
ordinary persons; hence the desirability of employing special
exercises to increase their vigor. Hill climbing and bicycling also
tend to this end, but the latter is for many reasons not a form of
exercise to be recommended to one who wishes to attain the highest
results with the voice. Wind, dust, a stooping position, excessive
heat of the body, etc., are all among the many factors of risk for the
delicate vocal mechanism.

As the expiratory blast is so important in voice-production, the
exercises above recommended should be followed by others in which this
principle is specially recognized.

1. Inspire so as to fill the chest to the fullest with considerable
rapidity; then allow the breath-stream to pass out with the utmost

2. Fill the chest with special reference to its lower or its upper
part, as desired, and very rapidly, letting the breath flow out


The primary purpose of respiration in all animals is the same--namely,
to furnish oxygen and remove carbon dioxide (carbonic acid). The
lowest animals, as the amoeba, breathe by the whole surface of the
body. In all vertebrates the anatomical mechanism is essentially the
same: a membrane (covered with flat cells) in which the blood is
distributed in the minutest blood-vessels (capillaries). Respiration
is finally effected in the tissues (cells) of the body. The more
active the animal, or the higher in the scale, the more need of
frequent interchange between the air, the blood, and the tissues.

The respiratory organs in mammals are the mouth, nose, larynx,
trachea, bronchial tubes, and lung-tissue or air-cells proper. The
windpipe is made up of cartilaginous rings completed by membrane,
muscle, etc. (behind). The bronchial tubes are the continuation of the
windpipe, and branch tree-like until they become very fine. The
air-cells are built round these latter. The lung-tissue is highly
elastic. The lungs are made up of an elastic membrane, covered with
flat cells, and very abundantly supplied with a mesh-work of the
finest blood-vessels. The whole of the respiratory tract as far as the
air-cells is lined by mucous membrane.

The air consists essentially of 21 parts of oxygen and 79 parts of
nitrogen, with a variable quantity of watery vapor. Only a small
portion of the total oxygen of the air is removed before it is
exhaled. The respiratory act consists of (1) inspiration, and (2)
expiration; the latter is of a little longer duration than the former.
The rate of breathing in man is from 14 to 18 per minute, in the
resting state, or about one respiration to three or four heart-beats.
The quantity of air inspired depends on (1) the size of the thorax,
and (2) the extent of its movements. These are effected solely by
muscular contractions, and give rise to an increase in all the
diameters of the thorax. The lungs are closely applied (but not
attached) to the inside of the chest wall, and remain so under all
circumstances. When the chest cavity is enlarged by inspiration, the
air, pressing down into the elastic lungs, expands them as much as
possible, that is, as much as the chest walls will allow; but the
lungs are never at any time either filled with or emptied of air to
their utmost capacity. At most, the amount of expansion is very

_The Quantity of Air in the Lungs._

1. The quantity of air inspired in quiet breathing is about 20-30
cubic inches.

2. The quantity that can be added to this by a deep inspiration is
about 100 cubic inches.

3. The quantity that can be expelled by a forcible expiration is about
100 cubic inches.

4. The quantity that cannot be expelled at all is about 100 cubic

The above are named: (1) The tidal air; (2) complemental air; (3)
supplemental air; (4) residual air. The quantity that can be expelled
by the most forcible expiration after the most forcible inspiration,
that is, the air that can be moved, indicating the "vital capacity,"
is about 225-250 inches.

The chest is enlarged by the muscles of inspiration, the principal of
which is the diaphragm or midriff. This muscle (tendinous in the
centre) is attached to the spinal column (behind) and to the last six
or seven ribs. When it contracts it becomes less domed upward, and is
pressed down more or less on the contents of the abdomen; hence the
walls of the latter move outward. During ordinary inspiration the
lower ribs are steadied by other muscles, so that no indrawing of
these ribs takes place, but a very forcible expiration makes such
indrawing very noticeable. In addition to the enlargement of the chest
by the descent of the diaphragm, the ribs are elevated and everted by
the muscles attached to them, with the total result that the chest
cavity is enlarged in all its three diameters during inspiration. The
first rib is fixed by muscles from above. During extremely forced
inspiration a large proportion of all the muscles of the body may act.
Ordinary expiration is the result largely of the elastic recoil of the
chest walls, only a few muscles taking part. The diaphragm ascends and
becomes more domed. During forced expiration many other muscles are
called into action. It is of importance for the singer and speaker to
note: (1) That the chest cavity should be increased in all its
directions; (2) that the muscular action should be easy and under
perfect control, but also vigorous when required; (3) that the breath
be taken through the nostrils when the individual is not actually
vocalizing or about to do so; (4) that the breath be kept in or let
out in the proportion required.

Breathing is a reflex or involuntary act. The respiratory centre,
consisting of an expiratory and inspiratory division, is situated in
the bulb, or medulla oblongata, the portion of the brain just above
the spinal cord. All the ingoing nervous impulses affect respiration
through the outgoing impulses that pass along the nerves to the
muscles; that is, the ingoing impulses pass up by the nerves from the
lungs to the centre, and thence along other nerves to the respiratory
muscles. The condition of the blood determines the activity of the
respiratory centre, but the incoming impulses regulate this activity.
The respiratory centre can be approached from every part of the body.


Every thing that favors the full and free expansion of the chest in a
pure atmosphere is favorable, and the reverse unfavorable. Corsets are
against the laws of beauty, are unnecessary for support, and may by
compression injure and displace important organs, as the liver,
stomach, etc.; and must interfere with the fullest expansion of the
chest. They have militated against the physical, and indirectly the
moral and mental advancement of the race.

_Practical Exercises._

I. Measurements of the chest.

II. Exercises to strengthen muscles, promote complete expansion,
regulate inflow and outflow of air, etc.

1. (_a_) Inspiring slowly, with counting.
   (_b_) Holding.
   (_c_) Expiring slowly, with counting.

2. The same, holding longer.

3. The same, with shorter inspiration and longer expiration. Gradually
diminish first and lengthen last.

4. Breathing through open lips.

5. Exercises to strengthen diaphragm.

6. Exercises to improve shape of chest and strengthen muscles.

7. Exercises to strengthen abdominal muscles.



The larynx, or voice-box, is not the sole voice-producing apparatus,
as is often supposed, but it is of great, possibly the greatest,
importance. In describing the parts of this portion of the vocal
mechanism the author deems it wiser to use the terms commonly employed
by anatomists and physiologists, as others are awkward and inadequate.
Moreover, there is this great advantage in learning the technical
names of structures, that should the reader desire to consult a
special work on anatomy in reference to this or other important
organs, he will find in use the same terms as he has himself already
learned. Such are, as a matter of fact, not difficult to learn or
remember if one knows their derivation or other reason for their
employment. All the muscles of the larynx have names which are not
arbitrary but based on the names of the structures to which they are
attached, so that one has but to know their connections and the names
of the solid structures, which are few, to have a key to the whole

When one is not using the voice the larynx is simply a part of the
respiratory apparatus, but when one phonates this organ assumes a
special function for which specific structures are essential. As
sound is caused by vibrations of the air, and these may be set up by
vibrations of the vocal cords, it may with absolute correctness be
said that the whole larynx exists for the vocal bands so far as
voice-production is concerned. Such a view renders the study of the
larynx much more interesting and rational; one is then engaged in
working out that solution of a problem which Nature has accomplished.

The vocal cords, we can conceive, might be either relaxed or
tightened, and lengthened or shortened, or both, and beyond that we
can scarcely understand how they might have been modified so as to be
effective in the production of sounds of different pitch. As a matter
of fact, these are the methods Nature has employed to accomplish her
purpose. For each vocal cord one fixed point, and only one, is
required. We know of only one method in use by Nature to cause
movement in living structures--viz., contraction, and muscle is the
tissue which above all others has that property; hence the movements
of the vocal cords are brought about by muscles. But both for the
attachment of the muscles and the vocal cords themselves solid,
relatively hard structures are required. Bone would prove too
unyielding, but cartilage, or gristle, meets the case exactly. The
entire framework of the larynx--its skeleton, so to speak--is made up
of a series of cartilages united together so as to ensure sufficient
firmness with pliability.

The cartilages have been named from their shape, as that appealed to
the original observers, and the terms employed are of Greek origin.
The largest and strongest is the _thyroid_ (_thureos_, a shield)
cartilage, which resembles somewhat two shields put together in front
without any visible joint, and open behind but presenting a strongly
convex surface externally, in front and laterally. "Front" (anterior)
and "back" (posterior) always refer in anatomy to the subject
described, and not to the observer's position. In observing another's
larynx the subject observed and the observer naturally stand front to
front, and it is impossible to see or touch the back of the larynx as
it is covered behind by the other structures of the neck.

This thyroid, the largest of the cartilages, is attached to the hyoid
or tongue bone above by a membrane, so that the whole larynx hangs
suspended from this bone by a membrane, though not by it alone, for
muscles are attached to it which also serve for its support. It is of
practical importance to remember that the larynx is free to a very
considerable extent, otherwise it would go ill with the voice-producer
in the vigorous use of the voice, not to mention the advantages of
mobility as well as pliability in the movements of the neck

[Illustration: FIG. 20 (Spalteholz). Shows the thyroid cartilage above
and the cricoid below both viewed from the side. The anterior surface
is turned toward the right.]

[Illustration: FIG. 21 (Spalteholz). A front view of FIG. 20.]

[Illustration: FIG. 22 (Spalteholz). The back or signet surface of the
cricoid or ring cartilage, to which several muscles are attached.]

[Illustration: FIG. 23 (Spalteholz). The cricoid cartilage, seen from
the side, and showing behind and laterally the articular or joint
surfaces by which it connects with the thyroid below and the arytenoid
cartilage above.]

[Illustration: FIG. 24 (Spalteholz). Shows the arytenoid cartilages,
the most important of all the cartilages of the larynx, inasmuch as to
the part termed "vocal process" the vocal band is attached on each
side. The movements of the vocal bands are nearly all determined by
the movements of these cartilages, which have a swivel-like action. In
the above the front surfaces are turned toward each other.]

The _cricoid_ (_krikos_, a signet-ring) is the cartilage next in size.
It is situated below the thyroid cartilage, with which it is connected
by a membrane, the crico-thyroid. The wider part of this signet-ring
is situated behind, where it affords attachment to large muscles. It
also furnishes a base of support for two very important structures,
the _arytenoid_ (_arutaina_, a ladle) cartilages. As the vocal bands
are attached behind to them, and as they have a large degree of
mobility, they are from a physiological point of view the most
important of all the solid structures of the larynx.

There are two pairs of small bodies, the _cartilages of Santorini_, or
_cornicula laryngis_, surmounting the arytenoids, and the _cuneiform_,
or _cartilages of Wrisberg_, situated in the folds of mucous membrane
on each side of the arytenoids; but these structures are of little

The whole of the inner surface of the larynx is lined with mucous
membrane, though that covering over the true vocal bands is very thin,
and so does not cause them to appear red like the false vocal bands,
which are merely folds of the mucous membrane. However, the true vocal
bands may become red and thickened when inflamed, because of this same
mucous membrane, which, though ordinarily not visible to the eye,
becomes so when the condition referred to is present; for inflammation
is always attended by excess in the blood supply, with a prominence of
the small blood-vessels resulting in a corresponding redness. The
same thing happens, in fact, as in inflammation of the eyes or the
nose, both of which are more open to observation. Bearing this in mind
one can readily understand why in such a condition, which is often
approached if not actually present in the case of "a cold," the voice
becomes so changed. Such vocal bands are clumsy in movement, as the
arms or any other part would be if thus swollen. The plain remedy is
rest, cessation of function--no speaking, much less attempts at
singing. Like the nose the larynx, and especially the vocal bands, may
be catarrhal, and such a condition may call for medical treatment
before the speaker or singer can do the most effective vocal work.

While the _false vocal bands_ have little or nothing to do with
phonation directly, they do serve a good purpose as protectors to the
more exalted true vocal bands. When coughing, swallowing, vomiting,
holding the breath tightly, etc., these folds of mucous membrane close
over the true bands, often completely, and thus shut up for the moment
the whole of that space between the bands known as the glottis, or
glottic chink, to which reference was made in a previous chapter as
the space through which the air finally gains access to the lungs.

The true vocal cords (which, because of having some breadth and being
rather flat, are better termed vocal bands) are composed largely of
_elastic tissue_. The reader may be familiar with this structure,
which is often to be found in the portions of the neck of the ox that
the butcher sells as soup beef. It is yellow in color, and stretching
it has furnished many a boy with amusement. It is so unmanageable when
raw that when it falls to the dog he usually bolts it, the case being
otherwise hopeless. Such elastic tissue is, however, the very material
for the construction of vocal bands, as they require to be firm yet

[Illustration: FIG. 25 (Spalteholz). A view of the larynx from behind.
Several of the muscles are well shown, of which the two indicated
above are of the most importance. The arytenoideus proprius tends to
bring the cartilages from which it is named, and therefore the vocal
bands, toward each other; while the posterior crico-thyroid, from its
attachments and line of pull, tends to separate these and lengthen the
vocal bands.]

[Illustration: FIG. 26 (Spalteholz). Showing structures as indicated
above. The mucous membrane, that naturally covers all parts within the
vocal mechanism, has been dissected away to show the muscles.]

[Illustration: FIG. 27 (Spalteholz). Showing the parts indicated
above; and of these the crico-thyroid muscle is to be especially
observed. The oblique (especially so in the posterior part) direction
of its fibres is evident, so that when it contracts, it must pull up
the ring cartilage in front, and so tilt back its hinder portion and
with it the arytenoid cartilages, and so lengthen and tense the vocal
bands, as in the utterance of low tones.]

[Illustration: FIG. 28 (Spalteholz). A back (posterior) view of the
larynx, etc. Note how the arytenoid cartilages rest on the cricoid;
how the epiglottis overhangs, as its name implies, the glottis; and
that the posterior part of the windpipe is closed in by soft
structures, including (unstriped) muscle.]

It is important to remember the relative position of parts and to bear
in mind that most of the laryngeal structures are in pairs. To this
last statement the thyroid and cricoid cartilages and the epiglottis
are exceptions, being single.

Of the _epiglottis_, a flexible cartilage, it is necessary to say
little, as its function in voice-production, if it have any, has never
been determined. It hangs as a flexible protective lid over the
glottis, and food in being swallowed passes over and about it. It no
doubt acts to keep food and drink out of the larynx, yet in its
absence, in some cases, owing to disease, no very great difficulty was
experienced, probably because certain muscles acted more vigorously
than usual and tended to close up the glottic chink.

The following simple diagram will, it is hoped, make the relative
position of parts plain so far as the anterior (front) attachments of
parts to the thyroid cartilage are concerned. It will be understood
that the inner anterior surface is meant, and that by "middle line"
is intended the middle line of the body, the imaginary vertical
diameter passing like a plumb-line from the middle plane of the head,
let us suppose, downward just in front of the larynx.

[Illustration: FIG. 29.]

The angle made above and in front where the two wings of the thyroid
cartilage meet is termed _Adam's apple_ (_Pomum Adami_), and in some
cases, mostly males, is very prominent. Adam's apple has in itself,
however, no special significance in voice-production.

The little concavity between the false vocal bands above and the true
vocal bands below is termed the _ventricle of the larynx_. It allows
of more space for the free movements of the bands, especially those
more important in voice-production.

The vocal bands are attached behind to the projecting angle of the
base of the arytenoid cartilage, which is itself somewhat triangular
in shape, the base of the triangle being downward and resting on the
upper and posterior (back) surface of the cricoid cartilage, with
which it makes a free joint, so that it can move swivel-like in all
directions. This is most important, because through it is explained
the fact that the vocal bands may be either tensed and lengthened or
relaxed and shortened.

_The muscles act on these movable cartilages, and nearly all the
changes in the vocal bands are brought about through the alterations
in position of the arytenoid cartilages, to which they are attached

Before describing the muscles of the larynx, the reader is reminded of
the order of structures from above downward, in front, which is as

     The hyoid bone.
     The thyro-hyoid membrane.
     The thyroid cartilage.
     The crico-thyroid membrane.
     The cricoid cartilage.
     The trachea.

The latter is connected with the cricoid cartilage by its membrane.

All the above structures can be felt in one's own person, the more
readily if he be thin and have a long neck. The hyoid bone, or
tongue-bone, is that hard structure just above the cricoid cartilage,
and which one may easily demonstrate to be much more movable than the
larynx itself. The tongue muscles are attached to it above, and from
it, below, the larynx is suspended, as already explained.

The muscles of the larynx are best understood if the principle of
antagonistic action already referred to be remembered. Speaking
generally, the muscles are arranged _in pairs_ which have an opposite
or antagonistic action--viz.: (1) Those that open and close the
glottis; (2) those that regulate the tension, or degree of tightness,
of the vocal bands.

1. The muscles whose action tends to approximate the vocal bands--the
_adductors_--are the _arytenoid[=e]us proprius_ and the
_thyro-arytenoid[=e]us_. The former is attached to the posterior or
back surface of both arytenoid cartilages; the latter, as its name
indicates, to the anterior and inner surface of the thyroid and the
anterior lower surface or angle (_vocal process_) of the arytenoid.

The opening or widening of the glottis is effected on each side (one
muscle of the pair and its action being alone described in this
and other cases) by the antagonist of these muscles, the
_crico-arytenoid[=e]us posticus_, whose attachments are exactly as
indicated by the names--viz., to the posterior part of the two
cartilages named. When reading the description of these or other
muscles it is absolutely necessary to have a pictorial illustration or
the real object before one. The pull of this muscle is from the more
fixed point, as in all other cases; hence the force is applied in a
direction from below and outward, with the result that the
arytenoid cartilage is tilted outward, and with it the vocal band is
moved from the middle line.

[Illustration: FIG. 30 (Chapman). Diagram showing action of
crico-thyroid muscle, stretching of the vocal cords, and lengthening
of them. The dotted lines indicate the position assumed when the
muscle has contracted.]

[Illustration: FIG. 31 (Spalteholz). View of the larynx as looked at
from above. The illustration shows particularly well both the true and
the false vocal bands. The true vocal bands are placed much as they
are when a barytone is singing a very low tone. The part of the figure
lowest on the page represents the back part of the larynx.]

[Illustration: FIG. 32 (Spalteholz). A cross-section transverse to the
larynx, such as can be readily made with a strong knife.]

The _crico-thyroid_ also tends to open the glottis. Just as the
diaphragm is the most important muscle of breathing, so is the
crico-thyroid the most important in ordinary speaking and in singing
in the lower register. It is a relatively large and strong muscle with
an oblique direction in the main, though it is composed in reality of
several sets of fibres some of which are much more oblique in
direction than others (Fig. 28). As its name indicates, its points of
attachment are to the thyroid and the cricoid cartilages, but the most
fixed point (_origin_) is its point of attachment to the larger
cartilage; hence its direction of pull is from the thyroid, with the
result that the anterior part of the cricoid is drawn up, the
posterior part down, and the arytenoid cartilage, resting on the upper
part of the cricoid, backward, so that the vocal band is rendered
longer and more tense (see especially Fig. 29). It is important to
note that this is the muscle most used in singing the lower tones of
the scale, and that its action must necessarily cease, to a great
extent, when a certain point in the pitch is reached, as there is a
limit to the degree of contraction of all muscles; and, besides, the
crico-thyroid space is of very moderate size, and the cricoid
cartilage can ascend only within the limits thus determined. It thus
follows that Nature has provided in the change of mechanism for a new
register, which is nothing else than a change of mechanism with a
corresponding change of function. It will be at once apparent that the
claim that registers are an invention of men, and without foundation
in nature, is without support in anatomy and physiology. The
crico-thyroid is probably, however, of much more importance to tragic
actors and barytones than to tenors or sopranos. This, however, is no
excuse for the neglect of its development by the latter class, as
often happens, for without it the best tones of the lower register are
impossible. On the other hand, the elocutionists who prescribe for
students practices that involve the excessive use of this muscle, with
a cramped position of the vocal organs, the larynx being greatly drawn
down, with the view of producing disproportionately heavy lower tones,
must take no comfort from the above anatomical and physiological
facts. Art implies proportion, and it was one of the ambitions of all
the best actors in the golden age of histrionic art to have an "even
voice"--_i.e._, one equally good through the whole range required. The
tragic actor, elocutionist, and public speaker, and the singer,
whether soprano or bass, should neglect no muscle, though they may be
justified in developing some in excess of others, but ever with a
watchful eye on the weakest part.

2. The muscles which regulate the tension of the vocal bands are the

(_a_) The _thyro-arytenoid[=e]us_ (pair), which by tilting the
arytenoid cartilages forward relaxes the tension of the vocal bands.
When they act with the adductors--_e.g._, the arytenoid[=e]us
proprius--the result must be relaxation and approximation behind,
which implies a greater or less degree of shortening, as usually
happens when a certain point in an ascending scale is reached in
persons whose methods of voice-production have not been in some way
modified, and a new register begins, which in most female voices is
marked by a more or less distinct and abrupt alteration of the quality
of the tone.

The crico-thyroids are the antagonists of the above-named muscles, and
they may act either very much alone or, to some extent, in coöperation
with the above, to regulate or steady their action; for in movements
so complicated as those required for voice-production it is highly
probable that we are inclined to reduce our explanations of muscular
action to a simplicity that is excessive, and to appreciate but
inadequately the delicacy and complexity of the mechanism and the
processes involved. It is quite certain that in the production of the
highest tones of a tenor or soprano several muscles coöperate, and
one, especially, seems to be of great importance in the formation of
such tones, most of all, perhaps, in high sopranos. The muscle
referred to is the thyro-arytenoid already described. It is not only
attached to the two cartilages indicated by its name, but also along
the whole of the external or outer surface of the vocal band. It will
be remembered that practically all the muscles are arranged in pairs,
one on each side of the middle line. The muscle now under
consideration, more, perhaps, than any other, is complex in its
action. Apparently a very few of its fibres may act more or less
independently of all the others at a particular moment and with a
specific and very delicate result, a very slight change in pitch.
Exactly how this is attained no one has as yet adequately explained;
but it is doubtful whether any singer who does not possess a perfect
control over this muscle can produce the highest tones of the soprano
with ease and effectiveness. It is especially the muscle of the human
birds of the higher flights.

(_b_) To these thyro-arytenoids, which for most singers and all
speakers are probably chiefly relaxing in action, must be added as
aiding in this function another pair, the _lateral crico-arytenoids_.
They are situated between the cricoid and arytenoid cartilages, and
the direction of action is obliquely from below and forward, upward,
and backward, so that the arytenoids are brought forward and also
approximated more or less, which involves relaxed tension, at least,
possibly also shortening of the vocal bands.

When a tenor or soprano singer reaches the upper tones, say about
[Illustration: e'' f'' g''], or higher, there is considerable closing
up in the larynx, much in the way in which the parts of the month are
brought together in sucking. This is termed _sphincter action_, the
mouth and the eyes being closed by such action, of which they are
the most easily observed examples. As a result of this squeezing there
is in some cases that reddening of the face and that tightness which
is often felt uncomfortably, and which is _straining_, because when
present in more than a very slight degree it is injurious, owing to
congestion or accumulation of blood in the blood-vessels, with all the
bad consequences of such a state of things. When the tightening does
not go beyond a certain point it is normal--indeed, such sphincter
action is inevitable; but it is the excess which is so common in
tenors and others who strain for undue power, and to produce tones too
high in pitch for their development or their method, which is so
disastrous to the throat and to the best art also.

[Illustration: FIG. 33 (Spalteholz). Shows various structures, and
especially well the false and the true vocal bands, with the space
between them (ventricle of Morgagni), but which has no special
function in phonation, unless it acts as a small resonance-chamber,
which is possible. This space is a natural result of the existence of
two pairs of vocal bands in such close proximity.]

[Illustration: FIG. 34 (Spalteholz). Parts have been cut away to
expose to view the whole of the inner surface of the larynx (lined
with mucous membrane). An excellent view of the vocal bands and of the
"ventricle" of the larynx, between them, is afforded.]

When the vocal bands are in action their vibrations are accompanied by
corresponding vibrations of the cartilages of the larynx--a fact of
which any one may convince himself by laying his fingers on the upper
part of the thyroid, especially when a low and powerful tone is
produced. This vibration is not confined to the larynx, but extends to
other parts--_e.g._, the chest itself, for when one speaks or sings a
distinct vibration of the chest walls can be felt, though the extent
to which this is present is very variable in different persons. As an
ascending scale is sung the larynx can be felt (by the fingers) to
rise, and the reverse as the pitch is lowered. This is due partly to
the action of those muscles attached to the larynx which are not
connected with the movements of the vocal bands, and partly to the
influence of the expiratory air-blast. The glottis, partially closed
as it must be in phonation, presents considerable resistance to the
outgoing stream of air, hence the upward movement of the larynx when
it is left free, and not held down by muscular action.

In singing and speaking the larynx should be steadied, otherwise the
"attack," or application of the air-blast to the vocal bands, cannot
be perfect. On the other hand, it is obviously incorrect to attempt to
hold the larynx always in the same position. Holding down this organ
by main force, as in the production of the so-called "straw bass," is
one of the surest methods of producing congestion and consequent
disorders of the vocal organs; and the author wishes to warn all
voice-producers against such unnatural practices. Students of
elocution and young actors often sin in a similar way, and
"clergyman's sore throat" is almost always due to this or some similar
misuse of the vocal organs. One's own sensations and common sense
should never be disregarded, however eminent the teacher who
recommends unphysiological methods.


When the student has read the above description of the structure and
functions of the larynx, and studied the illustrations well, he will
be prepared to deal with the subject in a practical manner, and
without that it is feared his ideas will remain somewhat hazy.

First of all, he should try to find the parts mentioned in his own
person, following this up by examinations of others, for which purpose
children make good subjects, as they have usually necks that are not
too deeply padded with fat, and they may be easily led to take the
examinations as a sort of fun.

From above downward one feels in the middle line the parts in the
order previously mentioned, beginning with the hyoid bone. One may
learn that the larynx is movable and yielding, a hard structure
covered with softer tissues, but what these are, and much more, can
only be learned by examination of the larynx after it has been removed
from some animal. Every butcher can provide the material for getting a
sound, practical knowledge of the respiratory apparatus. He may be
asked to supply the following:

1. A pig's "pluck"--_i.e._, the "lights," or lungs, with the windpipe
attached. The liver, heart, etc., are not required, though to observe
the relations of the circulatory system--_i.e._, the heart and large
blood-vessels--to the respiratory system will be time well spent.
Unless special instructions are given, the larynx, which the butcher
may term the "weezend," may be lacking or mutilated. It should be
explained that this organ, with a part of the windpipe and the extreme
back part of the tongue, and all below it, are required. For one
sitting this single "pluck" will suffice, as it will serve for a
general examination. The lungs may be dilated by inserting a tube into
the windpipe, tying it in position, and blowing into it with greater
or less force. It should be especially observed how suddenly the lungs
collapse when the breath force is removed, as this illustrates well
their _elasticity_. By cutting through the windpipe lengthwise and
following it downward one learns how numerous are the branches of the
bronchial tree, etc.

For a second sitting one should secure at least two specimens of the
larynx of the pig or sheep, though the former is more like the human,
and so the better on the whole. A case of dissecting instruments is
not essential; a sharp pocket-knife will serve the purpose. In order
that the student may have a clear idea of the cartilages, all the soft
tissues must be cut or scraped away. It is necessary to exercise great
care, or the membranes connecting the cartilages together will be cut
through; and on the other hand, unless the work in the neighborhood of
the arytenoids be cautiously done, these cartilages may be injured,
and it is most important that their swivel-like action and their
relations to the true vocal bands be observed. The glottic chink can
be seen from above or below, and should be observed from both
view-points. Its margins are formed by the true vocal bands.

Then, with the figures before him, the student should endeavor to
isolate each of the muscles described. The muscles can always be
recognized by their red color, but it is to be remembered that those
on the inner surface of the larynx, such as the crico-arytenoid, are
covered with mucous membrane, which after death is very pale. This can
by careful dissection be removed, and if in doing this a small pair of
forceps be employed, the work will be greatly facilitated. One must be
very skilful indeed if he would get all the muscles "out," or well
exposed to view as individuals, on a single specimen. Likely several
will be required before entirely satisfactory results are reached, but
these are well worth all the time and labor required. The action of
the muscles can in some measure be demonstrated by pulling on them in
the direction of their loosest attachment, though it must be confessed
this is much more difficult in the case of most of the muscles of the
larynx than in those of other parts of the body.

Should the specimens be very successfully dissected, it may be worth
while to keep them for future observation, in rather weak alcohol (40
per cent.), in, say, a preserve jar.

All examinations of the vocal bands may leave the observer
disappointed; he may fail to realize, most likely, how such wonderful
results can be accomplished by structures so simple as those he sees
before him. But when the laryngoscope is brought into use, then comes
a revelation. This instrument will be described in the next chapter.


Some of the hygienic principles involved have already been referred to
and illustrated, and others follow from the facts already set forth.
It is very important for the voice-user to bear in mind that his
larynx is a part of the respiratory tract, and that the whole of this
region and the entire digestive tract, part of which is common to
both, are lined with mucous membrane. If the nose be affected with
catarrh, the throat does not usually long escape; and if the back of
the mouth cavity (_pharynx_) be disordered, the vocal bands and other
parts of the larynx are almost sure to be involved more or less.

The condition of the stomach is reflexly, if not by direct continuity
through the mucous membrane, expressed in the throat generally; hence
as experience shows, the voice-user cannot exercise too great care as
to what and how much he eats, especially before a public appearance.
He must know himself what best suits him, in this regard, to a degree
that is necessary for few others.

When singing, more blood is sent to the organs used, hence the great
danger of that excess of blood being retained in the parts too long,
as might easily happen from pressure about the neck, etc. It is
scarcely necessary to point out that draughts, cold rooms, etc., will
also determine the blood from the skin inward, and set up that
complicated condition of multiform evils known as "a cold." The
obvious principle of prevention lies in keeping the body, and
especially the neck, shoulders, and chest, warm after using the vocal
organs in any way in public. To hand the singer a wrap after leaving
the platform is always wise, and the judicious friend will see that
conversation is not allowed, much less forced on the possibly
breathless and wearied voice-user--a precaution that is probably more
honored in the breach than in the observance, for in this as in other
cases one's friends are sometimes his worst enemies.


The larynx is the most important organ in voice-production, and
consists of cartilages, muscles, the vocal bands, true and false,
membranes and ligaments, folds of mucous membrane, etc. It is situated
between the hyoid (tongue) bone above and the trachea below. The
cartilages are the (1) epiglottis, (2) thyroid, cricoid, arytenoid,
the two small, unimportant cornicula laryngis, or cartilages of
Santorini, surmounting the arytenoids, and the two cuneiform, or
cartilages of Wrisberg, in the folds of mucous membrane on each side
of the arytenoids.

The muscles are attached to the main cartilages. In addition to the
muscles that are concerned with the movements of the vocal bands,
others that hold the larynx in place or raise and lower it are
attached _externally_ to these, especially to the large thyroid
cartilage. The epiglottis, the false vocal cords, the true vocal
cords, and the thyro-arytenoid muscles are attached to the interior
anterior surface of the thyroid in this order from above down.

The false vocal bands have no direct function in phonation. _The whole
larynx, so far as phonation is concerned, may be said to exist for the
true vocal bands._ They are attached close together to the internal
and anterior surface of the thyroid in front and to the lower anterior
angles (vocal processes) of the arytenoids behind. Between the false
vocal bands above and the true vocal bands below there is a cavity
(the ventricle of Morgagni). The false vocal bands are protective, and
approximate closely during coughing, swallowing, etc.

It is very important to note that the arytenoid cartilages move freely
on their base, swivel-like, so that nearly all the changes effected in
the movements and tension of the vocal bands are brought about through
alterations in the position of these cartilages; and this implies that
all the muscles concerned are attached to them. From above down, in
front, the order of structures is as follows:

     Hyoid bone.
     Thyroid cartilage.
     Cricoid cartilage.

The hyoid bone is not a part of the larynx, but from it the larynx is
suspended. The bone itself gives attachment to the muscles of the
tongue. The glottis is the chink between the true vocal bands.

The muscles of the larynx may be divided into the following: (1) Those
that open and those that close the glottis; (2) those which regulate
the tension of the vocal bands. The latter include the (_a_)
crico-thyroids, which tense and elongate them, (_b_) thyro-arytenoids,
which relax and shorten them. The crico-thyroid may be considered the
most important muscle of phonation, because it is so much used and so
effective. By its action the cricoid is pulled up in front and down
behind, so that the arytenoids are drawn back, and thus the vocal
bands tensed and lengthened. The lateral crico-arytenoids and the
thyro-arytenoids have the opposite effect--_i.e._, they relax and
shorten the vocal bands; hence when they come into play a new register
begins. The thyro-arytenoids, attached along the whole length of the
vocal bands externally, have a very important but not well-understood
action in the production of the higher tones, and probably also of the

The whole larynx is lined with mucous membrane, that covering the true
vocal bands being very thin. The false vocal bands are made up chiefly
of mucous membrane; the true vocal bands abound in elastic tissue. The
larynx rises during the production of high tones, and during
phonation its vibrations may be felt, as also those of the chest.


1. Feel in your own person the parts of the larynx, etc., from above

2. Note the vibration of the larynx when a vowel is spoken or sung. A
similar vibration of the chest walls may be felt by the hands laid
over them.

3. Note the change of position of the larynx in singing a scale.

4. Dissect a pig's or sheep's pluck and some specimens of the larynx.

[Illustration: FIG. 35. These three figures illustrate perhaps more
clearly the _action_ of the muscles indicated FIGS. 26-34.

The arrows show the direction of the pull of the muscles. The result
of this action is the new position of the cartilages and vocal bands,
which is shown by red outlines. The muscle is also depicted in red.
The heavier outer rim is to indicate the thyroid cartilage. By
comparing the upper and the lowest figure it will be seen that they
are opposites. Of course, in phonation the vocal bands are never so
much separated as shown in the illustrations. Rather does the lower
figure indicate a case of extreme separation due to a very deep
inspiration. However, these illustrations are merely diagrams meant to
indicate in a general way the manner of the working of parts. For
exact pictures of the vocal bands and related parts, see Chapter



Before discussing our subject further it is desirable that some
attention be given to a few of the fundamental principles of that
department of physics termed _acoustics_, and which deals with the
subject of sound. If the student has the opportunity to study this
subject theoretically and practically, as it is set forth in some good
work on physics, he will have no reason to regret the time spent. A
deep knowledge of the laws of sound is not absolutely essential, or
even highly necessary, for a sufficient understanding of the
principles involved in voice-production. It is, however, all-important
that a few facts and principles be thoroughly grasped.

For those who feel that they have the time for a study of acoustics,
the author would especially recommend Tyndall's work on sound, in
which the subject is treated with wonderful clearness and charm. What
we endeavor now to bring before the reader we have found sufficient
for nearly all the purposes of the voice-user.

An observer on the street, looking at a military band, notices certain
movements of one member of the organization which result in what he
termed the sound of the drum; but a deaf man by his side, though he
sees the movements, hears nothing. This, being analyzed, means that
the movements of the drummer's arm, conveyed through the drumstick to
the membrane of the drum, give rise to movements in it which set up
corresponding movements of the air within the drum, which again cause
movements of the body of the instrument, the whole causing movements
of the external air; and here the purely physical process ends. The
movements other than muscular ones are not readily observed, but
experiments not only prove that they exist, but demonstrate their
nature, even to their exact rate of occurrence, their size, etc. These
movements are termed _vibrations_, and, as has been indicated
previously, they are the sole physical cause of sound. But that the
latter is not due wholly to a physical origin is evident from the fact
that sound for the deaf does not exist. It must, therefore, be a
personal, a subjective experience, and as the sleeping, unconscious
person does not necessarily hear a sound, the process is not wholly a
corporeal or physiological process; it is finally an experience of the
mind, the consciousness, and so is psychological as well as

The fact that sound has a physical basis in the vibrations of bodies,
either solid, liquid, or gaseous, may be brought home to one in
various ways. Concussion or shaking of some kind is essential to start
these vibrations. The air is made up of its particles, and one being
moved sets up, inevitably, movements in neighboring particles on all
sides, hence vibrations travel in all directions; which explains why a
sound in the street may be heard by those in every part of the street
not too distant, and also in the upper rooms of the houses and below
in the basements. This is an important fact for the singer or speaker
to bear in mind. His purpose must be to set up vibrations that will
travel with great perfection and rapidity in all directions.

The following experiments of a simple kind will serve to convince
those who may not have given much attention to the subject that sound
is due to movements of some object, which we term the sounding body,
strictly that which starts the vibrations by its own movements or

If a sufficiently flexible band of metal or a stiff piece of whalebone
be fixed at one end in a vice, and then sharply pulled to one side and
suddenly let go, a sound results. The same effect is produced when a
tight cord or small rope is plucked at and then suddenly released. In
each of these cases, if actual movements are not seen, a certain haze
which seems to surround the object may be observed. The same can be
seen when a tuning-fork is set into action by a bow, a blow, etc. In
the case of the fork a graphic tracing (Fig. 36) can be readily taken
on smoked paper, thus demonstrating to the eye that vibrations exist,
that they occur with perfect regularity and with a frequency that can
be measured.

[Illustration: FIG. 36 (Tyndall). Illustrates how the vibrations of a
tuning-fork are registered on a blackened (smoked) glass. In order
that the movements of the fork shall be traced in the form of regular
curves, the surface must be kept moving at a definite regular rate.]

A similar observation can be made in the case of stringed instruments.
If pieces of paper be laid on the strings of a violin, and the bow
then drawn across them, the bits of paper will fly off owing to the
movements--_i.e._, the vibrations--of the strings.

That a force applied at one end of several objects in a line or series
causes an obvious effect at the other end, can be well illustrated in
a simple way. If a number of individuals stand one behind another in a
line, each with his hands laid firmly on the shoulders of the one next
to him, and the person at the end be pushed, the force will be
conveyed through all the intermediate individuals, and cause the
unsupported person at the distant end to move. So is it with the
particles of which the air is composed. The movements begun in the
drum set up by contact corresponding movements or vibrations in the
adjacent air, which ultimately reach the hearing subject's ear,
thereby affect his brain, and are accompanied by that change in
consciousness which he terms "hearing." It will be observed that these
events constitute a chain, and a break anywhere will prevent a sound
being heard; there is then, in fact, no sound.

Sounds are characterized by _pitch_, _volume_, and _quality_.

The _pitch_ is determined by the number of vibrations that reach the
ear within a certain time; the more numerous the sound-waves
(vibrations) in a second, the higher the pitch.

[Illustration: FIG. 37 (Tyndall). Meant to illustrate vibrations. The
impulse communicated by the ball pushed from the hand to all the
intervening ones causes only the last to actually move bodily.]

Animals differ a good deal as to the limits of hearing. Cats hear very
high-pitched sounds, as of mice, that human beings may not notice, and
it is likely that insects hear sounds altogether beyond the limit of
the human ear. But it is wonderful how much human beings differ among
themselves in regard to this matter. It has surprised the author to
find that many persons cannot hear the high-pitched note of certain
birds, as the wax-wing.

The lower limit, speaking generally, is for most persons 16
vibrations, and the highest 38000 vibrations a second, according to
Helmholtz, hence the entire range of the human ear would be fully 11
octaves; but the practical range of musical sounds is within 40 and
4000 vibrations a second--_i.e._, about 7 octaves--and, as is well
known, even this range is beyond the appreciation of most persons,
though as to this much depends on cultivation--attention to the
subject extending over a considerable period of time.

The _volume_, or loudness, of a sound depends on the size of the
vibrations, just as one feels a blow from a large object, other things
being equal, more than from a small one. The ear drum-head is in the
case of a large sound beaten, as it were, more powerfully. The singers
that give us bigness of sound instead of quality belabor our ears, so
to speak; they treat us as persons of mean understanding--dull
intellects; the thing is essentially vulgar.

The _quality_ of a sound is determined by the form of the vibrations.
A sound of good quality is to the ear what a beautiful statue or
picture is to the eye. As will be explained later, the form or quality
depends largely on the shape, etc., of the resonance-chambers above
the vocal bands.

Much discussion has taken place from time to time as to the nature of
the larynx as a musical instrument, some being inclined to regard it
as most closely allied to a stringed instrument, others to a
wind-instrument. It has obviously points of resemblance to both, but
the most recent researches make it clearer than ever that it is
neither one nor the other, strictly speaking, but that it stands in a
class by itself. It is, however, helpful, in considering many
questions, to bear in mind its resemblances to both wind and stringed
instruments. The vocal bands are not wholly free throughout their
length, like the strings of a violin, nor do they bear any great
resemblance to the reed of such an instrument as the clarinet, but as
in the latter the force causing the vibrations is a blast of air. We
have already pointed out that the vocal bands are set into vibration
solely by the _expiratory_ blast of air.


The distinguished physiologist Johannes Müller demonstrated the
working of the larynx by special experiments. He fixed into the
windpipe a bellows, and showed, in the dead larynx, of course, that
the blast from this source could cause the vocal bands to vibrate and
thus produce sounds, which by varying the strength of the force, etc.,
were made to vary in pitch.

While such experiments indicate the essential principles of a possible
voice-production, as the conditions in life were not and could not be
fully met these results were rather suggestive than demonstrative of
Nature's methods. These investigations served a good purpose, but
they were manifestly inadequate, and this was felt by one thoughtful
vocal teacher so keenly that he pondered much on the subject, in the
hope of finding a method of observing the larynx during actual
phonation. To this distinguished teacher, Manuel Garcia, belongs the
honor of inventing the means of observing the vocal bands in action.
This was accomplished in 1854, and, soon after, Garcia read an account
of his observations to the Royal Society of London; and though much in
this paper required correction by subsequent observations, it remains
to this day the foundation of our knowledge of the action of the
larynx in voice-production.

[Illustration: FIG. 38 (Bosworth). Intended to illustrate the optical
principles involved and the practical method of carrying out
laryngoscopic examination. The dotted lines show the paths of the

As usually employed, the laryngoscope consists of two mirrors, the
head-mirror, so called because it is usually attached to the forehead
by an elastic band, and the throat-mirror, which is placed in the back
part of the mouth cavity. The purpose of the head-mirror is to reflect
the light that reaches it from a lamp or other source of illumination
into the mouth cavity so perfectly that not only the back of the
mouth, etc., but the larynx itself may be well lighted up; but
inasmuch as this illumination may be accomplished, under favorable
circumstances, by direct sunlight, the head-mirror is, though mostly
indispensable, not an absolutely essential part of the laryngoscope.
There is, indeed, one advantage in the use of direct sunlight, in that
the color of the parts seen remains more nearly normal. Lamplight
tends, because of its yellow color, to make parts seem rather of a
deeper red than they actually are; but this to the practised observer,
always using the same source of illumination, is not a serious
matter--his standards of comparison remain the same. Moreover, this
objection does not apply equally to electric light, now so much used.

[Illustration: FIG. 39. This illustration is meant to show more
especially the relative position of observer and observed. The
observer, on the right, is wearing the head-mirror, while two
throat-mirrors seem to be in position--in reality, the same mirror in
two different positions. One is placed so as to reflect the picture of
the nasal chambers, especially their hinder portion. The walls of the
nose, etc., may for the purposes of this illustration be considered
transparent, so that the scroll (turbinated) bones, etc., come into
view. The tongue is protruded. The light, not seen in this figure, is
usually placed on the left of the subject, as in Fig. 38.]

It being a fundamental law of light that the angle of reflection and
the angle of incidence correspond--are, in fact, the same--it was
necessary that the throat-mirror should be set at an angle to its
stem, so that the light passing up by reflection from the larynx
should, when striking on the surface of this plane throat-mirror, be
reflected outward in a straight line to the eye, which must be in the
same horizontal plane with it. This and all the other facts and
principles involved can only be understood by a careful inspection of
the accompanying figures, which it is hoped will make the subject
plain. The throat-mirror is none other than the mouth-mirror of the
dentists, and in use by them before Garcia discovered how it might be
employed to throw light on the larynx, in a double sense.

The essentials, then, for a view of the interior of the larynx are: A
source of illumination; a mirror to reflect the light reaching it from
this source into the back of the throat and larynx; and a second
mirror to reflect the light outward which is, in the first instance,
reflected from below, from the interior of the larynx. The principles
involved are few and simple, but their application to any particular
case is not easy, and is sometimes well-nigh impossible.

The throat-mirror should be placed against that curtain suspended in
the back of the mouth cavity known as the soft palate, so that it must
be pushed back out of the line of view. But many persons find such a
foreign object in the throat a sufficient cause of unpleasant
sensations so that retching may be the result. Generally there is a
tendency to raise the tongue behind in a way fatal to a view of the
mirror and the picture reflected from it. These difficulties, however,
can be overcome by a deft hand using the mirror brought to "blood
heat" by placing it in warm water or holding it over some source of
heat, as a small lamp, and directing the subject observed to breathe
freely and _through the mouth_. This latter tends to quiet that unruly
member, the tongue, and lead it to assume the flat position so
important to an unobstructed view. It is for the same reason the
author urges mouth breathing during speaking and singing. No other
tends so well to put the tongue in the correct position.

The extent to which one feels the annoyance of a small mirror held
gently in the throat depends really on the amount of attention
directed to it, and the degree of determination with which he resolves
to exercise self-control. The author has examined an entire class of
students of voice-production and found only one person who did not
succeed in at once giving him a view of the larynx. But it must be at
once said that of all persons examined by the author during his
experience as an investigator of voice-production and in special
medical practice, none have been able to show their throats, the
larynx included, so well as speakers and, above all, singers; which in
itself indicates that speaking and singing do give control of the
throat--that all its parts respond to the will of the observed person.
The author must further, however, remark that he has found this
control associated not so much with vocal power as with intelligent
study. Intelligence tells in music a good deal more than many people
have yet learned to believe; but on this point the reader will long
since have learned the author's views--in fact, so deep are his
convictions on this subject that he hopes he may be pardoned for
frequent reference to them, in one form or another.

One anatomical fact may be so invincible that a view of the glottis
cannot be obtained at all: the epiglottis may so overhang the opening
to the larynx that a good view of its interior is absolutely
impossible, in other cases only occasionally and under very favorable
circumstances. Such cases are, however, of the rarest occurrence,
while there are not a few persons in whom one may even see down the
windpipe as far as its division into the two main bronchial tubes, and
inflammation may thus often be traced from the vocal bands far down
the mucous membrane common to the larynx, windpipe, etc.

As has been remarked previously, it is only by the use of the
laryngoscope that one can see the vocal mechanism of the larynx in
action, so that for investigation laryngoscopy is essential.
Auto-laryngoscopy, or the use of the laryngoscope by the subject to
observe his own larynx, has its special difficulties and advantages,
the greatest of the latter being, perhaps, that the observer may use
himself as often and as long as he will, while he would hesitate to
make observations on others at great length or with frequent
repetition. There are no new principles involved in auto-laryngoscopy.
The observer must simply see that a good light is reflected into his
own throat, and that the picture in his throat-mirror is reflected
into another into which he may gaze, an ordinary small hand-glass
usually sufficing.

Only rarely is the individual met who can himself so control his
tongue that assistance from the observing laryngologist is
unnecessary. In by far the greater number of instances the tongue,
after being protruded, must be gently held by the left hand of the
observer, a small napkin covering the tip of the organ. The
auto-laryngologist must, of course, control his own tongue, and better
if without any hand contact.

It is scarcely necessary to say that before placing the mirror in the
mouth its temperature must be tested by touching it for a moment
against the back of the hand.

Nearly all the facts of importance in phonation, several of which have
already been referred to, or will be mentioned in the "Summary and
Review" below, could only have been discovered by the use of the
laryngoscope. The difference in the larynx in the two sexes and in
different types of singers and speakers, though open to ordinary
observation, dissection, etc., are still better brought out by the use
of the instrument now under consideration.

One naturally expects any organ to be larger and heavier in the male
than in the female, and to this the larynx is no exception; and
individual differences are equally pronounced. There may be almost if
not quite as much difference between the larynx of a barytone and of a
tenor as between that of an ordinary man who is not a public
voice-user and the larynx of the ordinary woman. The larynx of the
contralto may in its size and general development remind one of the
same organ in the male. The vocal bands of the bass singer may be to
those of a soprano as are the strings of a violoncello to those of a
violin--using these examples, it will be understood, merely as rough

The change in the size of the larynx produced by even a few months'
judicious practice may be astonishing. As already hinted, it is
important that in bringing about this development exclusive attention
should not be given, as is sometimes done, especially in the case of
speakers, to the lower tones, though it is not so important for them
as for singers to have an even development up to the highest range.

But again the author would urge the voice-user to aim at attaining
that delicate control of muscles (neuro-muscular mechanisms, to speak
more scientifically) so important for the finest vocal effects, rather
than be satisfied with mere power. The vocalist and speaker must
indeed be athletic specialists, but they should not aim at being like
the ordinary athlete, much less mere strong men of the circus.

It is said that Madame Mara within her range of three octaves could
effect 2100 changes of pitch, or 100 between each two tones of the
twenty-one in her compass, which would represent a successive change
in the length of the vocal bands of a small fraction, possibly not
more than 1/17000 of an inch--something unapproachable in nicety in
the use of any other instrument. Even if we make large deductions from
the above, the performances of those who have reached the highest
laryngeal control must remain marvellous, all the more when it is
remembered that this control over the larynx, to be efficient for
musical purposes, must be accompanied by a corresponding mastery of
the art of breathing. Is it necessary to point out that such wonderful
development and control can only be attained after years of steady
work by the best methods?

At one period in the life of the individual changes of such importance
take place in the entire nature, physical, mental, and moral, that he
becomes almost a new being. This epoch is known as the period of
puberty or adolescence, and may be considered that of the gravest
moment during one's whole life; for then, for better or worse, great
changes inevitably occur. It is incomparably the period of greatest
development, and, unfortunately, there may also spring into being,
with striking suddenness, physical and psychic traits which cause the
greatest anxiety. In any case, the thoughtful must then regard the
youth or maiden with feelings of the deepest interest, if not anxiety;
and in the case of the voice-user, especially the singer, this period
may come laden with the destinies of the future.

The vocal organs, especially in males, undergo very marked changes in
relative proportions and actual growth. So marked is this that the
boy soprano may actually become a barytone, or, unfortunately, no
longer have a singing voice at all.

[Illustration: FIG. 40 (Grünwald). If this be compared with the next
illustration (FIG. 41), some of the differences between the larynx of
the male and that of the female may be noted. The vocal bands in FIG.
40, being those of a male, are heavier and wider. They are more
covered by the epiglottis than in the other case--that of a female
(FIG. 41). The false vocal bands are well seen in both cases, and by
their redness (dark in the figures) contrast with the whiteness of the
true vocal bands. In both illustrations the bands are in the
inspiration position.]

[Illustration: FIG. 41 (Grünwald). Laryngoscopic picture of the female
larynx--to be contrasted with that of a male, shown in FIG. 40.]

[Illustration: FIG. 42 (Grünwald). In this case, owing to the subject
having a cold, it is with difficulty that the true can be
distinguished from the false vocal bands, so reddened (dark, in the
figure) were the former, with corresponding changes in the character
of the voice. This view was obtained as the subject was phonating, so
that the vocal bands are approximated somewhat closely.]

[Illustration: FIG. 43 (Grünwald). Shows the larynx as it may be seen
only by the use of the laryngoscope. The above is an example of the
appearance of the vocal bands during a deep inspiration, and in this
subject, as in those illustrated by FIGS. 40, 41, the circumstances
were so favorable that the observer could see even the trachea, the
rings of which are indicated in the picture. The reader will bear in
mind that in this and all laryngoscopic pictures, while right remains
right, front becomes back, and back front, so that the back of the
larynx appears toward the observer--_i.e._, is lowest on the page.]

So far as the larynx is concerned the changes are less pronounced,
usually, in the girl; nevertheless, the period is one of such change
for the female that the greatest care should be exercised at this
time, especially in the case of city girls. The body requires all its
available resources for the growth and development which is so
characteristic of this biological and psychological epoch; hence it
may be ruinous for the future of the girl if at this time the same
strain is put upon her as on the adult, whether in the direction of
study, physical exertion, or social excitement, and of course the
voice must suffer with all the rest. The farmer who would attempt to
work the colt of a year or two old as he does the horse of four or
five would be regarded as either grossly ignorant of his business or
utterly reckless as to his own interests, if not positively cruel. Do
our modern usages not show a neglect of facts of vital moment still
more marked? Unfortunately, the woman all her life must live, to a
greater or less extent, on a sort of periodic up-curve or down-curve
of vitality; and that this fact is so generally ignored by society and
educators is one of those peculiarities of our age at which, in spite
of its great advancement in so many directions, a future generation
must wonder.

To use the voice when the health is even slightly disordered is not
without risk to the vocal organs, and it is the clear duty of every
teacher of vocal culture, at all events, to allow no practice and to
give no lessons that imply the actual use of the vocal organs at these
times. Nor is this a great loss, rightly considered, for the
intellectual side of the subject, which requires so much attention,
may readily be made to take the place of the vocal for a few days.

The so-called "breaking" of the voice is largely confined to males,
because the growth changes, etc., as already said, are most marked in
boys. At this time, also, there is frequently an excess of blood
supplied to the larynx, with possibly some degree of stagnation or
congestion, which results in a thickening of the vocal bands, unequal
action of muscles, etc., which must involve imperfections in the
voice. In all such cases common sense and physiology alike plainly
indicate that rest is desirable. All shouting, singing, etc., should
be refrained from, and even ordinary speech, as much as possible, in
very marked cases, especially when the individual is even slightly
indisposed or weary.

In other cases the changes are so gradual and so little marked that it
is not at all necessary to discontinue vocal practice, if carried out
with care and under the guidance of an intelligent friend or teacher;
but because of the possibility of the voice changing in quality, there
is no time when the advice of an experienced and enlightened teacher
or laryngologist is more necessary.

The condition present in the vocal bands and larynx generally of the
boy at puberty is more or less akin to that found in fatigue,
ill-health, hoarseness, etc., as well as in old age, when muscular
action is very uncertain, so that in the weak larynx, as elsewhere,
the old man may approach the undeveloped youth, and for much the same
reason--lack of co-ordinated or harmonious control of parts.

These remarks imply, of course, that the youth has already begun
studies in voice-production, and that raises another important
question, viz.: When should the individual who is sufficiently endowed
musically begin to sing, or study public utterance practically in some
of its forms?

No faculty develops earlier than the musical, and this is a strong
argument in itself for the early study of music, apart altogether from
other considerations about which there is room for more difference of
opinion. Should the child get his musical development through the use
of his own musical instrument or another? If he shows natural ability
for the use of the voice, should he be trained very early?

Against early training may be urged the facts above referred to--the
liability of great changes taking place in the larynx at puberty,
especially in the boy. But marked are the changes that take place in
other parts of the body also, and this is not urged against exercises
for general development, for the boy. It is a remarkable fact that
many of the great composers sang as boys, and possibly this has had
something to do with their writing music for the voice, later, when
they were most of them by no means fine singers; but on this too much
stress should not be laid.

The question at issue is to be sharply marked off from another--the
public appearance of children as soloists, reciters, etc. In this case
the question is more complicated, and cannot be settled by
physiological considerations alone. Our problem is also to be kept
apart from another very important question--the singing of children,
or, indeed, adults, in classes, choirs, etc.

If a child shows himself a desire to sing, and especially if he has
musical ability above the average and a voice that is of fair range
and quality, one can scarcely see why he should not be encouraged, and
placed under a wise teacher; for it is doubtful if there be any better
way of developing the ear and musical nature, even if in future the
child shows that he will accomplish more as an instrumentalist. Such
vocal training tends to development of the larynx, and that can
scarcely be wholly lost, no matter what changes puberty may bring
about. At the same time, one must take care not to be too hopeful in
regard to child singers. Nature gives us some surprises, and not
always pleasant ones.

But as to the cultivation of the vocal organs with the view of
producing a beautiful speaking voice by processes akin to those used
for the singer, as the teaching of this work constantly implies, there
can be no doubt. Unless the individual acquires a respect for the
beautiful in the speaking voice when young, it is feared he may never
get it, as the existing state of things only too clearly shows.

It is hoped that enough has been said on this subject to indicate the
principles, at all events so far as physiology is concerned, on which
the decisions regarding some weighty questions must be made.

The question of singing with others, as usually carried out in
schools, seems to the author a very doubtful procedure, to say the
least, as for those with fine throats it may prove injurious, and for
those who have feeble musical endowments it does little; but of this
subject and concerted singing generally again.



Experience proves that breathing, for the speaker and singer, is one
of those subjects that may be very inadequately comprehended by the
student, and, the author regrets to say, may be positively
misrepresented by teachers and writers.

Some--indeed, a great many--teachers direct their students to employ
"abdominal" or "diaphragmatic" breathing, others "clavicular"
respiration. A little consideration must convince those who have read
the chapters on breathing that such distinctions, in which one part of
an entire process is treated as if it were the whole, cannot be
justified. By "clavicular" breathing some mean upper chest breathing,
and others a form of respiration in which the shoulders (clavicles, or
key-bones) are raised with inspiration in an objectionable manner. The
latter is, of course, to be condemned; yet, very exceptionally, a
tenor of excellent training may feel that he can, under the
circumstances of the hour, reach a certain tone very high in his range
only by the utmost exertion. We all know how a singer's reputation may
be more or less ruined should he fail to reach such a high note--one,
indeed, by which he may, owing to the vitiated taste of the public,
have acquired a reputation beyond his artistic merits. Under these
circumstances such a singer might be justified in a momentary use of
every resource of what physiologists term _forced respiration_,
including clavicular breathing; but in general any raising of the
shoulders should be absolutely avoided.

When "clavicular" breathing is used in the sense of upper chest
breathing, it is correct as far as it goes, but the term is not a
happy one to employ in this sense, and it has led to error in theory
and practice.

In the same way, "diaphragmatic" breathing is perfectly correct, but
its exclusive use cannot be justified, for Nature teaches us
otherwise. It is true that the lower part of the chest, which always
should expand with the descent of the diaphragm, is wider than the
upper; it is true that by a very well-developed diaphragmatic
breathing a singer or speaker is fairly well provided with breath
power; but why teach this method exclusively, when thereby the
voice-user is being robbed of possibly from one quarter to one third
of his total breathing efficiency?

It is likely that teachers have insisted on diaphragmatic breathing,
especially in the case of females, because, unfortunately, prevalent
modes of dress so restrict the lower chest, etc., that individuals
instinctively seek relief in upper chest or clavicular breathing, in
which case it may be observed that the actual breath power of the
singer is very small. It cannot be denied that few people ever
adequately fill the chest--least of all, few women--and if admonitions
as to diaphragmatic breathing accomplish this purpose, the practice
must be commended. But another remedy should obviously precede this
one: the respiratory prisoner should first be released.

No doubt, in the most vigorous singing and speaking the lower part of
the chest, with the diaphragm, is of the greatest importance, but
often both the speaker and the singer, as in a short, rapid passage,
require to take breath, and the only way in which they can really meet
the case is by a short, more or less superficial action of the
respiratory apparatus, in which the upper chest must play the chief
part. There is no opportunity to fill the whole chest, so that any
admonition in regard to abdominal breathing is then quite out of

The fact is, the voice-user should have control of his whole breathing
mechanism, and use one part more or less than another, or all parts
equally and to the fullest extent, as the circumstances require; and
if the student has not already learned such control, the author
recommends his practising breathing with special attention first to
filling the upper chest completely, and then the lower. It must be
remembered that for a long time breathing, for the voice-user, must be
a voluntary process, which, as has been pointed out, is not the usual
and natural one for the individual when not phonating, which latter
is essentially reflex or involuntary. The voice-user, in other words,
must, with a definite purpose in view, take charge of himself. In
time, breathing for him too will become reflex--_i.e._, correct
breathing for the purposes of his art will become a habit. It must be
pointed out that the breathing for any particular composition,
literary or musical, should be carefully studied out, for this is
nothing else than determining how this part of the voice-user's
mechanism can be employed with the best artistic result. This,
fortunately, is now recognized by a large number of teachers, for the
fact is, the artistic is at present much better understood and
appreciated than the technical; were it not so, such erratic
literature on the subject of breathing could never have appeared.

On another aspect of the subject there is room for much greater
difference of opinion. Among even eminent singers and teachers there
is lack of agreement in regard to the part the diaphragm and abdomen
should play in the most vigorous (_fortissimo_) singing.

Singers of renown practise what may be termed a sort of "forced"
abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing. The breath is so taken that the
whole chest is filled, the diaphragm brought well down, and the
abdominal walls drawn in (retracted), which gives the singer, in all
parts above and below, a bellows with tense walls in all parts, with
the great advantage that such breathing permits of a firmness
otherwise unattainable, and he is enabled to exert his breath force
with great certainty and power, and, as some maintain, with all the
control necessary for even delicate effects.

[Illustration: FIG. 44. Intended to express to the eye the two views
of respiration discussed in the body of the work (p. 113-117). The
dotted lines indicate the form of the chest and abdomen advocated by
some as the best for the singing or speaking of long and vigorous

Against this it has been urged that it is unnatural, not according to
what is found in man and other animals in nature. It is perhaps
forgotten that when we make a great effort, as in lifting, we put the
breathing apparatus into just this state; we gird up our loins--or the
equivalent of that process--so that this method cannot be said to be
contrary to nature. The only question seems to be as to whether it is
necessary and advantageous, or wasteful of energy. For ordinary
efforts it does not seem to be necessary, though the chest must in
singing and speaking always be _held_ more or less full, not by any
deliberate and painful effort, but in a quiet, unobtrusive way.

The diagram (Fig. 44) will make the difference in the theories
referred to clear.

Up to the present the student has been urged to fill his chest, after
days of less vigorous practice, to the fullest, retain the mechanism
in this condition for a short time, and then in the slowest and most
regular fashion relax it, the purpose being development and control.
In actual speaking and singing such breathing is not usually either
possible or desirable.

Nature herself always works with the least possible expenditure of
energy and with power in reserve. These must be the voice-user's
principles, to be deliberately and persistently applied. To fill the
chest to the fullest on all occasions is to use up energy to no
purpose and to induce fatigue. Art is ever economical. Effort, obvious
effort, detracts from the listener's enjoyment. Ease in the executant
corresponds with enjoyment in the listener, or, at all events, if
nothing more, it puts him in such a frame of mind, that the more
positive qualities of the performance find him in an undisturbed,
receptive state.

The singer or speaker must breathe easily and adequately, but not so
as to waste his energies. Prior to the execution of his task, he
should consider what respiratory efficiency calls for in the case of
any particular phrase, and meet this without waste--_i.e._, fully, but
with something to spare. For the best art, as well as the soundest
technique, there should always be in the executant enough and to
spare. Let the last word be so uttered or sung that the listener may
feel, however vigorous the passage, that more could have been done had
it been required; in other words, _speak or sing the last word feeling
that several others might follow did one so choose_.

When this principle of reserve force is not observed, the voice-user
may distress himself or his audience in a variety of ways, among
others by a bad habit known as "pumping"--_i.e._, endeavoring to
produce sound when the breath power is really spent. It is only
necessary to refer to it for a moment that its unwisdom and
physiological unrighteousness may be apparent.

Another term, _coup de glotte_ (blow or shock of the glottis), has led
to so much confusion and misunderstanding, which unfortunately, has
been followed by erroneous practice, that it would be well if its
further employment were abandoned.

Breathing, so far as voice-production is concerned, is for the sole
purpose of causing the vocal bands to vibrate; and at this stage we
may say that the perfection of any vocal result depends wholly on the
efficiency with which these vibrations are produced, so that breathing
and tone are brought together, so to speak, by the mediation of these
little bands, the vocal cords; and this is the justification for
speaking of the larynx as _the_ vocal organ. This usage, however, is
objectionable, as it tends to narrowness and to divert the mind from
other highly important parts of the vocal mechanism. In one sense, the
respiratory organs and the resonance-chambers are each as important as
the larynx.

The term _coup de glotte_ has been sometimes employed as the
equivalent of "attack," and again as the synonym of nearly all that is
bad in voice-production. As to this latter, all depends on the sense
in which the term is employed.

Before the vocal bands can be set into suitable vibrations the
expiratory breath-stream must be directed against them in a special
manner, and they themselves must be adapted to the blast. It is a case
of complex and beautiful adaptation. The clarinet or flute player must
learn to "blow," and equally must the singer learn to use his breath.
The processes each employs, though not identical, are closely related;
both use the breath to cause vibrations, and there can be none that
are effective, in either case, except a certain relation of adaptation
of breath-stream to instrument be effected--with the clarinet-player,
adjustment of breath to reed, and with the voice-user, of breath to
vocal bands.

Exactly what changes are made in the larynx, and by what means, have
already been described, and will be again considered in more than one
part of this volume. The main fact is that owing to a multitude of
neuro-muscular mechanisms the different parts of the respiratory and
laryngeal apparatus are brought to work in harmony for the production
of tones.

The nature of the vibrations of the vocal bands, and, therefore, the
character of the sounds produced, depend in no small measure on one
thing, to which attention cannot be too carefully given. To a large
extent the pitch, the volume, the quality, the carrying power, etc.,
of a tone depend on the adjustment now referred to--one of the facts
which were, if not physiologically, at least practically recognized by
the old Italian masters. Teachers everywhere felt the need of some
technical term to express the adjustment we are considering, hence the
expression _coup de glotte_, which is not in itself necessarily either
incorrect or for other reason to be condemned. All depends on the
sense in which it is used, as we have already said. It must, however,
be admitted that it does; to most persons, convey the idea of
something that is more or less violent as well as sudden, so that
there seems to lurk in this term a tendency to mislead, to say the

There really should never be a blow or shock of the glottis; the vocal
bands should never strike together violently, or, indeed, strike
together at all, in the ordinary sense of the term. They should,
however, be approximated with considerable rapidity and with a perfect
adjustment to the breath-stream, and this must be associated with a
like perfect adaptation of the breath-stream to them through the
harmonious working of the many muscles (neuro-muscular mechanisms)
which constitute the most important part of the respiratory mechanism.
In brief, the adjustment of the breathing and laryngeal mechanisms
resulting in the adequate and suitable approximation of the vocal
bands for tone-production constitutes the _coup de glotte_, or, as the
author prefers to term it, the "attack."

To get this perfect should be one of the aims of teachers and one of
the ambitions of students. Without a good attack the singer or speaker
fails to do himself justice, and the listener is left unsatisfied. The
good attack suggests physiological and technical perfection, so far as
it goes; artistically, it implies power and sureness, and for the
listener satisfaction, a feeling that what has been attempted has been
accomplished; and the best of it is that the auditor at the end of a
large hall experiences this sense of satisfaction quite as fully as
the persons sitting in the first row of seats. Without good attacks
there can be no intellectual singing or speaking, no broad phrasing,
and much more that all should aim at who come before the public, and
which listeners have, indeed, a right to expect. But just because many
persons feel this to be true, they make serious errors in attempting
to attain the result; they substitute main force for the correct
method. Impatience and eagerness may defeat the voice-user's purpose.
In this and all other cases the action should be performed with but
moderate force, or even, at first, softly, and with gradual increase
in vigor, and always in relation to the quality of the sound produced;
quality must always be the first if not also the last consideration.

If the method be correct, power can be attained with patience; if
wrong, the throat and voice may be absolutely ruined. This point will
be considered later, but we must at once express the opinion that a
bungling attack in which main force is substituted for the proper
method is one of the most dangerous, as it is one of the most serious
errors in the technique of modern singing, and the same may often be
charged against our public speaking.

Another of the worst faults of singing, the _tremolo_, is due to
unsteadiness in attack and in maintaining the proper relations between
the breathing and the laryngeal mechanism. If the voice-user fails to
get a tone of good quality easily and without escape of breath to any
appreciable extent, he must consider that his method is incorrect.
There must be no wasted breath in the best vocal technique. This leads
to ineffectiveness in the voice-producer and lack of satisfaction in
the listener. Breath must, for a perfect technique, mean tone--all
tone--and this must be produced so that the singer is not aware, by
any unpleasant feelings, that he has vocal bands or a larynx at all;
in a perfect technique one must only be distinctly aware of certain
sensations in the parts above the larynx, in his mouth cavity, etc.
His consciousness is concerned with tone--the result. But, to attain
this, the method must be physiological--_i.e._, natural, and not only
that, but carried out with an approach to perfection in the details of
the process which takes time and calls for infinite patience and care,
all permeated by sound and clear ideas of what is being aimed at by
the voice-user. Nothing should be attempted till the method and the
end are understood thoroughly; to do otherwise is to waste time,
defeat the purpose, and court failure and disappointment; and the more
the student can think for himself, and the less dependent he is on his
teacher, the better will it be for both and for art itself.

From all that has been hitherto said it will be inferred that one of
the best tests of a good attack, or any other feature in
voice-production, is the absence of escape of breath, as such, from
the mouth. Many persons begin wrongly; they attempt to produce tones
by forcing the breath out in such a way that all their resources in
breathing are at once spent, instead of being husbanded with the care
of a miser. As time is the most precious possession of man, as man, so
is breath for the singer or speaker. It is his hoard. Nothing must be
paid out of this always limited capital for which the best value is
not obtained.

The test for perfect economy of breath known to older generations of
actors still remains the best. They were accustomed to hold a candle a
few inches from the mouth when speaking. If the flame did not flicker,
it was clear that breath was not being uselessly expelled.

Instead of feeling that the breath passes out, the voice-producer
should rather feel, when phonating, as if it passed in--an illusion,
it is true, but still a safe one. It will be found that holding a
mirror or the hand with the back turned toward the mouth, and a few
inches (four to six) from it, will serve fairly well to indicate
whether the breath is escaping or not, though in sensitiveness and
convincing power this is not equal to the flame test.

We would again urge that in every instance of phonation in either
speaker or singer, the breath be taken through the open mouth. Only in
this way can enough breath be inhaled in the mere moment available for
this purpose. Often the singer or actor must take breath with
absolutely the greatest rapidity possible, and the narrow passages of
the nose do not suffice to admit enough air within the time for

But even more important, perhaps, is the fact that when breath is
taken through the nostrils the singer may find that on opening his
mouth to sing the tongue and soft palate are in an unfavorable
position for good tone-production; his sounds may be muffled, throaty;
but if breath be inhaled through the open mouth, and not through the
nose at all, the tongue tends to lie flat, and this organ and other
parts assume the correct position for good intonation.

Mouth breathing, for the purposes of tone-production, is the only
method which has physiological justification. Many singers especially
complain of having trouble with the tongue; some believe it too large,
others that it is beyond their control. These so-called large tongues
have one advantage--they may exercise a great influence on the quality
of the tone; and correct breathing brings them to good behavior. The
author has time and again, by explaining the influence of mouth
respiration, brought sudden joy to the heart of the singer who had
been all his life troubled with the tongue, and worried by the
consciousness that his tones lacked in clearness, carrying power, etc.

Nose breathing is of course to be used exclusively when the subject is
not phonating. During the latter many opportunities occur to close the
mouth; and the idea that drying of the mucous membrane of the mouth,
etc., will occur by reason of mouth breathing in speaking and singing
is purely imaginary.


The student, whatever his degree of advancement, will find the
exercises about to be recommended, or others closely resembling them,
of great value.

It cannot be too well borne in mind, obvious though it is, that all
speaking and singing, whatever else they be, are tone-production;
hence the first thing for every one to ascertain regarding himself is
the extent to which he can form and hold tones of good quality--in
other words, the success with which he can establish the essential
co-ordinations or harmonious actions of the breathing and laryngeal
mechanisms, and maintain them for a considerable length of time.

Many singers can produce a fairly good and powerful tone, but it is a
sort of vocal explosion rather than a tone, which will continue to do
the singer's bidding for as long as he will. The correctly produced
and sustained tone is the foundation of all that is best in
voice-production; all the rest is but a series of variations on this.
Hence the author recommends the following practice to all, whatever
else they may do or have done. It is to be a test of inspiration,
attack, economy of breath, adjustment of the vocal bands, the
resonance-chambers, etc.

1. Inhale slowly through the somewhat open mouth, filling the chest
moderately full, and at once attack so as to produce a tone of but
moderate force, but of the best quality possible.

2. Continue to hold this tone as long as the breath is easily
sufficient, taking care that the tone be on no account sustained after
there is the slightest difficulty in maintaining it of the same
quality and power as before. Steadiness and perfection in quality are
to be the chief considerations.

3. The student is advised, after a few days' practice in this manner,
to note with a watch the time during which he can hold a tone under
the restrictions above referred to, and to endeavor to increase the
holding power daily by a little. It will, of course, be necessary to
fill the chest more completely day by day.

4. It will also be well for the voice-producer to practise taking very
deep and rapid inspirations, followed by the most prolonged

5. This method of breathing may then be put to the actual test in

Another exercise very valuable in giving breath-control is the

Produce a tone exactly as before, but every now and then, at regular
intervals at first, then at irregular ones, cut the tone off short by
suddenly arresting the breath, and, after a very short pause, continue
again in exactly the same way _without_ taking a fresh breath; and, as
in the above and all other exercises, frequently apply the hand and,
when more practised, the more exacting flame test.

The first of the above exercises may be represented to the eye by a
continuous straight line; the second by straight lines with short
spaces between them.

In all these exercises there must never be any sort of _push_
anywhere, neither in the chest nor throat. Such methods are absolutely
wrong, because so wasteful of energy. The tone should come as
spontaneously and inevitably as the gas from a soda-water bottle when
the cork is slightly loosened, or, if this illustration be too strong
(it is employed because gas, air, is concerned in each case), let us
say, as water from the pipe of a waterworks' system when the tap is
turned. _The tone should come, the breath must tarry._

If the student does not feel ease, certainty, and inevitableness in
result, he has not made a good attack. If he cannot sustain the tone
for a few seconds, he should conclude that his method of using his
breath is wasteful. In time a tone should be easily held for at least
ten seconds.

The purpose of the second exercise is to give still more fully
breath-control, and to lead the voice-user to realize how important is
breathing for intonation.

The student may ask: "Why not begin, as is often done, by the singing
of scales?" Really useful scales are too complex; they imply the use
of a series of tones formed according to the principles insisted upon
above. The first thing is to get one perfect tone--to use the vocal
mechanism under simple conditions; and _that tone should be chosen
which the voice-user can produce of best quality and with greatest
ease, with least expenditure of energy_. It should never be selected
from the extremes of the subject's range. From the favorite or best
tone he should work down and up the scale. After this the scale comes
easy, and all actual singing is scale singing--the use of
intervals--and all speaking the same thing; so that, from every point
of view, this exercise should be the first in intonation, and the
student will do well not to leave it till the conditions above
prescribed can be fully met. Some singers have continued such
exercises throughout a long artistic career.

It is to be understood always that the exercises, etc., recommended in
this work are intended for all voice-users, whether they are singers
or speakers. It is easy for a speaker to pass from such prolonged
tones to the shorter ones required in speaking, but after such
exercises he can do so with a feeling of ease, mastery of himself,
improved ear, and purity of speech not otherwise attainable.

The author would also insist, in the most emphatic manner, on the
great importance of making all such exercises musical. Every tone
should be the best then possible to the voice-user, and power must on
no account be aimed at for some time. Thus are developed and go hand
in hand, as they always should, a sound technique with the artistic
conscience and perceptions.


_The Principles of Physics, etc., Involved._

Sound (tone) is a mental result having its origin in certain changes
in the ear and the brain, owing to vibrations of the air. Tones have
_pitch_, depending on the number of vibrations in a second, _volume_
(power), depending on the size of the waves or vibrations, and
_quality_ (_timbre_), determined by the shape of the waves. Pitch is
determined by the vocal bands, volume by the same, in great part, and
quality by the shape of the resonance-chambers above the vocal bands.
The resonance-chambers influence volume also. A tone is augmented by

The larynx bears certain resemblances to both stringed and wind
instruments, but it is really unique (_sui generis_). The vibrations
of the vocal bands are caused solely by the expiratory current of air,
which is more or less held back by the cords, owing to their
approximation, so that the greater the obstruction the stronger must
the blast of air be, other things being equal, and the result increase
in pitch. The problem Nature had to solve is very complex.

The laryngoscope was invented in 1854 by a teacher of singing, Manuel
Garcia, who soon after gave an account of it to the Royal Society of
England. The instrument consists essentially of two mirrors, the
external, or "head-mirror," which is concave and reflects into the
larynx, and the internal, or "mouth-mirror," which reflects the
picture outward to the eye. The latter mirror is plane, and set at an
angle. The picture may show, under the most favorable circumstances,
all the upper parts of the larynx, including the vocal bands, but
sometimes, also, the windpipe as far down as its division into the two
main bronchial tubes. The difficulties commonly met with in the use of
the instrument are a constrained action of the throat and mouth parts
of the subject, unnatural breathing, an unruly tongue, etc. The
epiglottis may, also, naturally so overhang the glottis that a good
view of the vocal cords is impossible. It is difficult to see more
than one-half to two-thirds of the length of the vocal bands. The
picture seen is that of the parts of the larynx reversed--_i.e._,
while right remains right, posterior becomes anterior. The
laryngoscope shows that (1) in singing an ascending scale the vocal
bands are for a certain time in action (vibration) throughout their
whole length; that (2) there may be observed a rather sudden change
when the vocal bands are relaxed and shortened, and that this process
of shortening goes on, the bands approaching more and more, both
behind and in front, till (3) in the highest tones of a soprano of
great range there is only a small portion of each vocal cord toward
the centre that is not approximated somewhat closely.

With certain qualifications, it may be said that the action of the
vocal bands is alike for all voices. In all cases a certain degree of
approximation of the vocal bands is absolutely necessary for
phonation, and the mechanism is generally similar in males and females
till the highest tones, above alluded to, are reached. This is in
harmony with the following facts: (1) The crico-thyroids are the
muscles most in use in ordinary speech and in singing the lower tones.
(2) Several muscles combine in relaxing and shortening the vocal
bands. (3) The peculiar mechanism of the highest tones in a soprano
voice of great compass is only to be explained by a combined action of
several muscles, and a very delicate and precise use of the internal
thyro-arytenoids attached along the whole length of the outer surface
of the vocal bands. The larynx of the male differs from that of the
female chiefly in its greater size, weight, etc. The vocal bands in
the male may measure from three-fifths to four-fifths of an inch when
relaxed, and from four-fifths to one inch when tense; in the female,
from two-fifths to three-fifths of an inch when relaxed, and from
three-fifths to four-fifths of an inch when tense. There are
structural differences corresponding to and determining the kind of
voice, as to range and power more especially. The bass singer has, as
a rule, the largest larynx and the longest and heaviest vocal bands.

At puberty the changes that take place in the body generally are
associated with corresponding alterations in the larynx. The larynx
grows, changes its proportions, etc., often somewhat rapidly, and the
result may be a corresponding alteration in voice, as regards range,
power, and quality. The voice, because of imperfect anatomical and
physiological adjustment, may "break," to a greater or less extent.
The same may take place, owing to similar imperfect adjustment, in
old age, and temporarily, owing to disease, weakness, nervousness,
fatigue, faulty production, etc. These facts indicate that under such
circumstances the voice should be used with great care, not at all, or
in a whisper, when the vocal bands are practically not in action.

[Illustration: FIG. 45. Represents what the author has frequently
seen, by the use of the laryngoscope, when a soprano is producing a
very high head-tone, say C, D, or E in alt. It will be observed that
the vocal bands approximate in front and behind ("stopped"), so that
the only parts of the bands capable of vibration are those short
portions which form the margins of the oval opening shown in the
illustration. Only a very limited number of singers are capable of the
delicate adjustments required.]

In a singer highly endowed by nature and perfected by long training
based on the soundest principles, the action of the muscles of the
larynx may reach a degree of perfection only to be compared with that
of the eye and ear.

Consideration of the _coup de glotte_, the attack, or adjustment of
mechanisms to produce tone that begins correctly; breathing, with open
mouth, with effectiveness and economy of energy; singing for children,
in choirs, etc., have been discussed.

Practical exercises should be related to the principles underlying
them. Musical and æsthetic principles are always to be associated with
a sound technique. The artistic and technical or physiological
conscience should be associated.



When it is borne in mind that the vocal bands have little or nothing
to do with the quality of tones, the importance of those parts of the
vocal apparatus which determine quality, and the error of speaking of
the larynx as if it alone were the sole vocal organ, become apparent.

It may be strictly said that the vocal bands serve the purpose of
making the resonance mechanism available. What one hears may be said
to be vibrations of this resonance apparatus, and not, strictly, those
of the vocal bands, though this expression would also be correct, but
would not indicate the final link in the series of vibrations.

The tone caused by the vibration of two such small bands as the vocal
cords must, in the nature of the case, be very feeble. It becomes
important for the reader to convince himself of the importance of
resonance in sounding bodies and musical instruments.

When the stem of a tuning-fork so small that it can be scarcely heard
when in vibration, except by, the person holding it, is laid against a
solid body, as a table, its sound is at once so increased that it can
be heard in the most distant part of a large room. When the same fork
is held over an empty jar of suitable size and shape, a similar but
much, less marked increase of its tone is to be observed.

If a cord of but moderate thickness be fastened at each end to a thin
piece of wood, say a split shingle, and a little block of wood, in
imitation of the bridge of a violin, be placed under the cord so as to
render it tense, we have the essentials of a stringed instrument, the
pitch of which can be made to vary by moving the block about and thus
varying the tightness of the cord. But the sound of such an improvised
instrument, produced by drawing a bow across the cord, is ridiculously

In the actual violin the volume of sound, as well as its quality,
depends on the size, shape, and weight of the instrument. The strings
serve the purpose of causing the body of the instrument, the air
within it, and, in consequence, the air without, between it and the
ear of the auditor, to vibrate or move in a specific manner.

Similarly, the imposing size of the grand piano is associated
inevitably with loudness, as compared with a smaller instrument. A
violoncello must produce a larger tone than a violin, though not
necessarily one more intense.

These principles of resonance apply in the case of the singer and the
speaker. The bass and barytone produce tones of larger volume (as well
as different quality) than those of the tenor, because their resonance
apparatus is different in size and shape. It is true, their vocal
bands, their wind-power, and the laryngeal muscles are different--they
are not of the same size, etc.--and, in a more remote sense, this is
the cause of the differences in the tones they produce; but the
immediate cause is to be sought in the resonance mechanism, and, above
all, in the resonance-chambers.

It is true that when one speaks or sings, the chest, windpipe, and
larynx may be felt to vibrate, but the essential vibrations are
_supra-glottic_--above the vocal bands.

These resonance-chambers are the _mouth cavity_, in the widest sense,
and the _nasal chambers_. It is highly probable that the vibrations of
the chest walls and of the bones of the head may to some degree modify
the vibrations of the air within the resonance-chambers, chiefly in
the direction of intensification; but the idea that the hollow spaces
in certain of the bones of the head have any appreciable influence on
the tones of the speaker or singer, can at best not be considered as
demonstrated, and it serves no practical purpose to take into account
this possibility.

The great facts, the facts which are so plain that they may be
demonstrated to a child, are these: that the quality of any
tone--_e.g._, a vowel--is absolutely determined by the shape of these
cavities, the mouth and nasal chambers. This subject will be treated
further when the tones, etc., of speech are considered, but inasmuch
as no one can sing, in the proper sense of the term, without the use
of vowels, at least, and as we produce different vowels with
ease, one may at once demonstrate to himself that this is done by
altering the shape of his mouth cavity, and chiefly by the agency of
the tongue and soft palate.

[Illustration: FIG. 46 (Tyndall). Representing water being poured into
the vessel A B, till the air-space is just sufficient to respond to
the vibrations of the tuning-fork. The air thus becomes a resonator of
the fork.]

[Illustration: FIG. 47 (Spalteholz). The mouth is extremely widely
opened. The soft palate is seen terminating in the uvula, and on each
side, extending from it, are the pillars of the fauces, a pair of
folds between which the tonsil is seen to lie.]

[Illustration: FIG. 48. View of the nose, etc., from behind, showing
the parts enumerated above. It is not hard to understand that any
considerable amount of swelling of the lining mucous membrane might
give rise to difficulty in breathing through the nose, and even compel

[Illustration: FIG. 49 (Spalteholz). Showing well the scroll
(turbinated) bones of the nose, which break up the space and make it
more cavernous. It can be seen that there is free communication
behind, between the mouth and the nasal cavities, and that if the soft
palate and the tongue approximate, the breath-stream must pass into
and through the nose, giving rise to nasality in utterance.]

A short description of a part to which many voice-users remain
strangers all their lives will now be given. These resonance-chambers
remain, for many, an apparatus used daily and absolutely essential,
yet never examined. Fortunately, a few illustrations, which should be
followed by an examination of the student's own resonance-chambers and
their various parts as they may be seen in a mirror, will remove all
difficulty in the understanding of them, and prepare for that detailed
study to be recommended in a subsequent chapter.

Passing from before backward, one meets the _lips_, the _teeth_ and
_gums_, the _hard palate_, which is a continuation of the gums; then,
suspended from the hard palate, behind, is the _soft palate_, back of
which lies the _pharynx_ (often termed "the throat"), and above it and
constituting its continuation, the _naso-pharynx_; and lying on the
floor of the mouth there is the _tongue_.

Certain of these parts, as the teeth, gums, hard palate, nasal bones,
etc., constitute fixed structures, and though they determine in no
small measure the shape of the resonance-chambers, and so to a degree
the quality of the voice, so movable are the lips, soft palate, and,
above all, the tongue, that there is the widest scope for varying the
quality and even the volume of the voice; so that it is a good thing,
practically, for every one to believe that so far as quality, at all
events, is concerned, he is the master of his own destinies.

Though we are accustomed to believe that the mouth and nose are,
though neighbors, quite separate and independent of each other, such
is not the case. Indeed, in the pre-natal condition these are not two,
but one; and in some instances they remain imperfectly separated,
owing to the failure of the hard palate to develop to the full--a
condition known as "cleft palate," and giving rise to a peculiar nasal
intonation, to be explained presently.

The _nasal chambers_ are divided into two by a vertical partition, as
one can readily demonstrate by the use of his fingers, and are still
further broken up by certain bones, the scroll-shaped or _turbinated_
bones, so that the nasal chambers are of very limited size, and much
divided up by bony outgrowths from their walls. The _vertical septum_,
while bony above, is cartilaginous and flexible below.

Without the aid of instruments and a good light the nose can be but
indifferently examined from the front, while it requires the greatest
skill on the part of a laryngologist to see it well from behind.
However, the whole difficulty can be got over by visiting a butcher
and securing a sheep's head split through from before back. In a few
moments one can learn all the essential facts, including that one of
great practical importance--viz.: that every part of the
resonance-chambers is lined by the same mucous membrane which is also
continued downward into the larynx and the gullet.

It will be thus observed that the throat and nose communicate in the
freest manner behind, and that the only way of closing off the mouth
cavity from the nasal chambers is by means of the tongue and the soft
palate working together. As in the proper use of the tongue and soft
palate lie many of the secrets of the art of the speaker and singer,
special attention must be given to these parts.

The _tongue_, which completely fills the floor of the mouth, is made
up of several muscles of different attachments, which explains why
this organ is so movable. To say that it can with the greatest ease
and rapidity be turned toward every one of the thirty-two points
marked on a mariner's compass, is but to feebly express its capacity
for movements. What we are most concerned with now is its power to
alter the shape of the mouth cavity in every part.

The _soft palate_ is suspended like a curtain from the hard palate,
behind. It is composed of muscles arranged in pairs, and is continued
into a conical tip below known as the _uvula_, and on each side into
folds, the _pillars of the fauces_, between which lie the _tonsils_,
which are in shape like very small almond nuts. When quite normal
these should not protrude much, if at all, beyond the cavity made by
the folds referred to above.

Both the tonsils and the uvula may become so enlarged as to be a
source of awkwardness or more serious evil to the voice-user. They
may, in fact, require operative interference. So serious, however, is
the decision to operate, or the reverse, for the voice-user, that the
author recommends that such operations be entrusted only to
laryngologists who have some knowledge of their influence on

It is of the greatest moment to observe that the quality of tones can
be made to vary in the highest degree by the joint use of the tongue
and soft palate. When in vocalizing the tongue is raised behind and
the soft palate made to approach it, or actually to meet it, the tone
assumes a more or less nasal character. The reason of this is that the
cavity of the mouth proper, or "mouth" in the narrower sense, the
forward part, is shut off from the hinder part, or the pharynx, so
that the breath is then directed upward and passes chiefly through the
nose, producing a nasal tone or twang--always a fault, and one
fearfully common in America.

When the tongue alone is raised behind, or drawn back unduly, tones
become muffled--indistinct, etc. This is also a very common fault, but
is found in England and Germany also. English speech is often hard and
guttural, German unduly guttural, if not so hard, and American
slovenly and horribly nasal.

But what may in a certain degree be disagreeable and a vocal error, is
in another a positive excellence; so, in this case, the use of the
tongue and soft palate in the proper degree and at the right moment
gives us emotional expression. This subject will, however, be
considered again later; in the meantime, the student is advised to do
a little experimenting in the use of his tongue and soft palate, with
a view of noting how the quality of tone may be thus made to vary. He
is also advised to use a hand-glass with the object of observing the
parts mentioned in this chapter, and if he can also find a friend
willing to lend his mouth for observation, so much the better.

The sooner any voice-user comes to feel that his vocal destinies lie
in his own hands, the better. "Know thyself" is as necessary an
admonition for the speaker and singer as for any other artist, but
with that must go another, "Believe in thyself"--that thou canst
produce tones of beautiful and expressive quality if thou wilt; it may
be only after much wisely directed work, but yet it is possible.

Allusion must be made to the danger of those engaged in mathematical
and physical investigations applying their conclusions in too rigid a
manner to the animal body. It was held till recently that the pitch of
a vocal tone was determined solely by the number of vibrations of the
vocal bands, as if they acted like the strings of a violin or the reed
of a clarinet, while the resonance-chambers were thought to simply
take up these vibrations and determine nothing but the quality of
tone; they were believed not to have any influence on pitch. Against
this view the author long ago demurred. To Prof. Scripture, however,
belongs the credit of demonstrating that the resonance-chambers
determine pitch also. It seems probable that the vocal bands so beat
the air within the resonance-chambers as to determine the rate of
vibration of the air of these cavities, and so the pitch of the tone
produced. These chambers not having rigid walls, one can the better
understand that the tension of these parts may not only be different
in individuals, but vary in the same person from time to time,
according to the condition of his health, etc. Herein we find another
source of explanation of variations in the voice. All these
considerations make the resonance-chambers more important than ever,
so that there is greater objection to speaking of the larynx as _the_
vocal organ than we were aware of before these investigations were


Without a resonator, which may be solid or hollow, the sound made by a
reed or tense string is feeble. That the mouth can act as a resonator
may be proved by holding a vibrating tuning-fork of suitable pitch
before this chamber when open.

The resonating chambers of importance are supra-glottic. Of these the
"mouth" including all as far back as the pharynx and the nasal
chambers are the principal. These two main cavities are separated from
each other by the hard palate, which is a bony floor, covered with
mucous membrane, as are all the parts of the resonance-chambers. The
hard palate extends horizontally from the gums backward, and
is continued as the soft palate. The latter is a muscular and
therefore movable curtain that divides, with varying degrees of
completeness, the mouth (in the narrower sense) from the pharynx and
naso-pharynx--_i.e._, the space back of the soft palate and the
posterior nares (back nostrils) respectively. By the elevation of the
back of the tongue and the lowering of the soft palate as when one
speaks nasally, the mouth proper is largely shut off from the nasal
chambers, so that the breath must be directed through the nose. "Cleft
palate" also connects undesirably the mouth and nasal chambers. The
tonsils lie between two folds, the pillars of the fauces, connected
with the soft palate. When normal in size the tonsils should scarcely
extend beyond these folds. The uvula is the central lower tip of the
soft palate. The nasal chambers are divided by a central bony and
cartilaginous partition, the septum nasi, but are further encroached
upon, on each side, by three scroll-like (turbinated) bones. The
tongue is composed of several muscles, which explains why its
movements may be so complicated and delicate. The mouth cavity is
bounded in front by the gums, teeth, and lips.

The form and, to some extent, possibly; the size of the
resonance-chambers determine the quality of the tone produced in
speaking and singing. The shape and size of the mouth can be made to
vary by the soft palate and lips, but chiefly by the tongue, so that
the movements of the latter, especially, cannot be too well studied.

It was formerly considered that pitch was determined solely by the
rate of vibration of the vocal bands; though the author opposed this
view as rigidly applied. Very recently Prof. Scripture, by the use of
new methods, has shown that the supra-glottic chambers cannot be
correctly likened to a resonator with rigid walls. It is held that the
vocal bands give a number of sudden shocks to the air in the
resonators, so that, in a sense, the resonance-chambers determine both
the pitch and the quality of the tone; and as the tension of the
resonators varies with both the physical and psychical condition of
the individual, variations in tone-production, more especially as to
quality, can now be the better understood. According to this view
these chambers are not properly resonators but sounding cavities.

     The reader's attention is particularly drawn to the new
     views of the method of action of the vocal bands, etc.,
     referred to on this page. Since the above was written, such
     views have become more widely known, and it is hoped that as
     they are very radical they may be established by other



[Footnote 1: The chapters on the Registers of the Singing Voice may be
omitted by readers whose practical interest is confined to the
Speaking Voice.]

About no subject in the whole range of voice-production has there been
so much confusion, difference of opinion, and controversy as that of
registers; so that it is important at the very outset to define
register, and throughout to aim at the utmost precision and clearness.

"A register is a series of consecutive and homogeneous sounds rising
from the grave to the acute, produced by the development of the same
mechanical principle, the nature of which essentially differs from any
other series of sounds equally consecutive and homogeneous, produced
by another mechanical principle" (Manuel Garcia).

"A register consists of a series of tones which are produced by the
same mechanism" (Behnke).

"A register is the series of tones of like quality producible by a
particular adjustment of the vocal cords" (Mackenzie).

From a consideration of the above proposed definitions it will be seen
that for the successful or, at all events, complete or ideal
investigation of a subject so many-sided and difficult, many
qualifications are desirable, if not absolutely essential. It is not
too much to say that the ideal investigator of the registers should
have a practical knowledge of general anatomy and physiology, together
with a detailed and exact knowledge of the vocal organs; be versed in
the laws of sound; have an adequate knowledge of music; be capable of
examining himself with the laryngoscope (auto-laryngoscopy) as well as
others (laryngoscopy); possess an acute ear for the pitch and quality
of tones; be himself able to use his voice at least fairly well in
singing and speaking; be provided with the all-important ballast of
common sense, and an impartial mind longing above all things to learn
the truth.

As few can hope to unite all these qualities in themselves in even a
moderate degree, openness of mind, temperance in the expression of
opinion, and common sense with experience, must be largely relied on
to furnish working conclusions.

A discussion of a subject so difficult and complicated is not easy to
follow. It is but just to other investigators, and fair to the reader,
to present the views of those who have possessed special
qualifications for dealing with the questions involved. The author
will endeavor to present the grounds on which others have taken their
stand, in a few words and clearly, if the reader will patiently
follow. There will at first seem, possibly, to be little agreement,
but it will be shown that on some of the most essential points there
is substantial unity of opinion; and the subject is of such vital
moment, as the author will endeavor to make clear, that it is hoped
that the most patient examination will be given to the questions that
arise, from the beginning to the end of the discussion. For the author
to express a dogmatic opinion, and simply state his disagreement or
agreement with others, would be contrary to the whole spirit of this
work, and leave the subject where it once was--in the realm of
hopeless disagreement and controversy. If the problem of the registers
is to be solved to the satisfaction of the rational thinker, it must
be by evidence, and not the mere opinions of any teacher or writer,
however eminent. To lay this evidence before the reader is now the
author's task.

One of those most eminently equipped, by a great variety of qualities,
for the investigation of this subject, or any other question of the
voice, was Madame Seiler. Whenever the author is obliged to differ
from this really great investigator, he does so with the sense of the
highest respect for her opinions generally, because she always sought
for scientific grounds for such opinions. Her views may be thus
briefly presented:

She recognized three registers, chest, falsetto, and head, with their

(1) The first chest register extends          (1) The whole glottis (vocal
to [Illustration: a b-flat] in men,           bands) is moved in loose
and to [Illustration: c' c-sharp']            vibrations.
in women.

(2) The second chest register extends         (2) The vocal ligaments (or
to [Illustration: f' f-sharp'] in both        ligamentous glottis) alone
sexes.                                        are in action.

(3) The first falsetto extends in             (3) The edges alone of the
females to [Illustration: c'' c-sharp'']      vocal bands vibrate, but the
and in males to [Illustration: e''            whole glottis is in action.

(4) The second falsetto in the                (4) The edges only of the
female extends to [Illustration:              vocal bands are used, and the
f'' f-sharp''] and to [Illustration: g'']     vocal ligaments alone are in
in women.                                     action.
[Transcriber's Note: So in original;
"female" should probably be "male."]

(5) Above this point head tones               (5) Edges only of the vocal
begin.                                        bands in vibration; partial
                                              closure of the ligaments
                                              posteriorly (behind).

It will be noted that Madame Seiler spoke of the vocal bands (cords)
proper as the "ligamentous glottis," and included in the "glottis" the
arytenoid cartilages themselves, or, at all events, that part of them,
their lower anterior angles, known as the vocal processes (or
extensions), to which the vocal bands proper are attached.

The above tabular statement shows (1) that Madame Seiler recognized
five registers for both male and female voices; (2) that she used the
term "falsetto" in a sense different from its ordinary one. Usually
this term is not applied at all to the female voice, but only to that
special modification of the male voice seldom employed now, and almost
never except by tenors. With this writer, "falsetto" as applied to
female voices replaces "middle," in the commoner usage.

[Illustration: FIG. 50. Tabular representation of Madame Seiler's
division of the register.]

Garcia, also, recognized five registers. Behnke, a teacher of singing,
who practised laryngoscopy and auto-laryngoscopy in the investigation
of the registers, used "lower thick," "upper thick," "lower thin,"
"upper thin," and "small," as answering to the "first chest," "second
chest," etc., of Madame Seiler and others.

Nearly all writers have used the term "break" to indicate the point at
which a new register begins. Behnke held that the break between the
thick and the thin register occurred in _both_ sexes at about
[Illustration: f' f-sharp']. The vocal bands in this part of the scale
vibrate in their entire breadth, and the series of tones above the
point just referred to is produced by a new mechanism, but one which
is the same for all voices and both sexes--_i.e._, only the inner
edges of the vocal bands vibrate.

According to Behnke, the male voice has but two registers, the thick
and the thin, but the female voice three, the thick, the thin, and the
small. These terms were not original with Behnke, but had been used
earlier by Curwen.

Behnke was emphatic on one point, to which we would call special
attention, in his own words: "If there is _straining_ anywhere, it is
during the attempt to carry the mechanism of the upper thick beyond
its natural limit."

Mackenzie (afterwards Sir Morell Mackenzie) held that "It is certain
that however over-refined musicians may multiply the 'registers' of
the voice, physiologically there are but two--_i.e._, 'chest' and
'head,' the falsetto of the man answering to the head production of

According to the same author, "The essential factor in chest
production is the long reed, whilst the essential factor in head
delivery is the short reed." The terms "long reed" and "short reed"
were the equivalents of Madame Seiler's "glottis" and "ligamentous
glottis" respectively. Mackenzie held that the cartilaginous
(inter-arytenoid) glottis is generally open in the lower and gently
closed in the upper tones of the chest register, while a segment of
the ligamentous glottis (vocal bands proper) is tightly closed in the
head voice.

As the result of the examination of 50 persons gifted with fine
voices, 42 of whom were "trained" singers and 8 "natural" singers,
Mackenzie formulated his conclusions as follows:

1. In tenor voices the whole glottis may be open to [Illustration: g a
b] and not unfrequently to [Illustration: g']. Beyond this point there
is closure of the cartilaginous glottis. Sometimes the whole glottis
is open throughout.

2. In barytone voices the whole glottis is often open to
[Illustration: a b], and occasionally to [Illustration: c']. Beyond
this point the cartilaginous glottis is closed, except in rare cases.

3. In bass voices the whole glottis is sometimes open to
[Illustration: g b]. Beyond this point, except in a few instances, the
cartilaginous glottis is gradually closed.

4. In sopranos and mezzo-sopranos the whole glottis is sometimes open
to [Illustration: f' g'], often to [Illustration: c''], beyond which
the cartilaginous glottis is usually closed. The glottis is sometimes
closed throughout the scale, and in one case it was open throughout.

5. In contralto voices the whole of the glottis is often open to
[Illustration: f' g'], beyond which the cartilaginous portion is

6. In the head voice of women and the falsetto voice of men
"stop-closure" (_i.e._, closure so tight that the cords in this region
do not vibrate) always takes place in the posterior portion of the
ligamentous glottis, and sometimes at the anterior part also.

This writer also held that "Boys who sing alto always use the chest
register." He was of opinion that "The quality of the voice generally,
but not always, indicates which mechanism is being used."

The views of the author, published at a former period, and based on
the special examination of a large number of persons with the
laryngoscope, etc., and on auto-laryngoscopy, may be briefly stated as

A nomenclature for the registers involving no theory would be best,
such, for example, as _lower_, _middle_, and _upper_ registers. Mandl,
who recognized only two registers, spoke of them as "lower" and
"upper," equivalent to "chest" and "head," as commonly used.

The author examined with the laryngoscope 50 persons, who might (with
Grützner) be divided into "trained singers," "natural singers," and
"non-singers." The whole glottis was found to be open in all voices in
the lowest tones of the chest register, and this condition obtained up
to about [Illustration: f-sharp' g'], beyond which another mechanism
came into play, except in rare cases.

The high falsetto of men and the head voice of women are produced by a
similar mechanism and method.

In the investigation of registers more attention should be given to
the use of the breathing organs than has hitherto been done by those
writing on this subject.

As Madame Marchesi, of Paris, has taught with preëminent success, and
with the greatest practical consideration for the preservation of the
voice and the vocal organs in an unimpaired condition, and as the
author has had, through her kindness, the opportunity to become
acquainted with her methods by observation, her views on the registers
are here presented. It is to be understood that as she teaches only
ladies, her views are considered, so far as she is concerned, as
applying only to female voices. These views are further presented
because Madame Marchesi was herself taught by Garcia, who was in the
direct line of the old Italian masters, though it will be observed
that the pupil has retained only the essentials of the master's views
on the registers.

1. There are three registers in female voices: chest, middle, and

2. While there are small differences in voices and individuals as
regards the registers, the following principles apply to all of them:

(_a_) The chest register must never be carried above [Illustration:

(_b_) [Illustration: e' f'] should be "covered" or modified chest

(_c_) In all cases [Illustration: f-sharp''] must be a head tone.

(_d_) In quick passages chest should not be carried beyond
[Illustration: d-flat']--_i.e._, [Illustration: d' e' f'] are middle
in quick passages.



It will, it is hoped, be apparent to the reader that the subject now
under treatment may be considered either theoretically or practically.
If science be exact, systematized, and, when complete, unified
knowledge, then every source of information must be employed in the
investigation of so difficult a subject as the registers. There may be
differences of opinion as to the relative importance of some of these
means of investigation--_e.g._, auto-laryngoscopy, but that it should
be utilized, there can be no question. The value of photography of the
larynx, as carried out up to the present, may be questioned; but there
can be no doubt that if this method of studying the action of the
vocal bands could be pushed to a certain point, much light might be
thrown on the questions at issue.

Merely to assume that a method of treating the registers which has
given, apparently, good practical results in the hands of one teacher
is sound, and rests on a scientific basis, is unwarranted. It may be
simply a little better or a little worse than some other. How is the
student to distinguish, in his choice, between Mr. A and Mr. B, in the
case of two successful teachers, both of whom recognize registers? A
physiologist may be sound as far as he goes, yet lack that practical
knowledge of the voice which the vocal teacher properly considers
requisite in determining how a pupil shall use the registers. Among
those who are most dogmatic on this and other questions there is often
a plentiful lack of knowledge of the vocal organs; and some clever
laryngologists must have learned, when they were carried into the
discussion of this subject, that some knowledge of music and singing
is absolutely indispensable, and that enough cannot be picked up, even
by an able man, in a few minutes devoted to interrogating singers,
especially when these vocalists have been trained by widely different
methods, and have, as is too often the case, given but little real
_thought_ to the scientific, or, indeed, any other side of their art.

We find "break" confounded with "register," and the meaning attached
to the latter, at best, one-sided or inadequate in some respects. The
truth is, such a subject cannot be settled by the physiologist, even
when a laryngologist, as such; nor can the solution to a scientific
question of this kind be given by a singer, as a singer. Such a
problem can only be settled, as we have throughout insisted, by those
possessing many qualifications, and even when the investigator unites
in himself every intellectual qualification, something will depend on
his temperament and spirit. An atmosphere of controversy is not
favorable to scientific investigation, and among the dangers that ever
lie in the path of the teacher are pride and prejudice. The
assumption that one is prepared to teach is too often associated with
views and feelings that prevent the guide from remaining himself a
student and being ready to learn even from the very beginner, as he
must if he have the true spirit. Unfortunately, several of the most
highly qualified writers on this subject have formulated their views
under conditions unfavorable to the attainment of the whole truth.

It is to be borne in mind always that a register implies (1) a series
of tones of a characteristic clang, _timbre_, color, or quality; (2)
that this is due to the employment of a special mechanism of the
larynx in a particular manner. It follows that in thinking of
registers scientifically, one must take into account both the tones
and the mechanisms by which they are produced.

Naturally, with most untrained people the passage from one register to
another is associated with a suddenness of change which is unpleasant,
and which is termed the _break_. It is often suggestive of weakness,
uncertainty, etc., and to an ear at once sensitive and exacting
through training is intolerable when very pronounced. Often this break
is very marked in contraltos, and is invariably so pronounced in the
male voice when it passes to the upper falsetto that even the dullest
ear does not fail to notice the change.

It is, therefore, not surprising that teachers should have sought to
lessen the unpleasant surprise for the listener caused by the break.
Some have looked on registers as almost an invention of the Evil One,
and forbidden the use of the term to their students; but such
ostrich-like treatment of the subject--such burying of the head in the
sand--does not do away with a difficulty, much less can such a plain
fact as the existence of registers be ignored without the most
detrimental results, as we shall endeavor to make plain. Some, feeling
that the break was an artistic abomination, have proceeded to teach
the student to reduce all tones to the same quality, which is about as
rational as asking a painter to give us pictures, by the use of but
one pigment.

To attempt to abolish registers would be like leaving but one string
to the violin; which instrument, in its present form, has a register
for each string; and the player endeavors to avoid the breaks that
naturally occur in passing from string to string, and to get a smooth
series of tones just as the intelligent vocalist does.

The registers may be represented to the eye by the method illustrated
in figure 52.

The wise instructor recognizes registers; they are a fact in nature,
and one to be valued. The more colors, the greater the range of the
artist's powers, other things being equal, whether the artist paint
with pigments or tones; but just as the painter uses intermediate
tones of color to prevent rude transitions or breaks, so must the
singer modify or "cover" the tones between the registers--_i.e._, use
to some extent the mechanism of both neighboring registers.

The reader who has perused the previous chapter thoughtfully may
naturally ask: "With such difference of opinion among eminent authors
like those quoted, how am I to know which one to follow, and what to
believe on this subject?"

The answer to that question we propose now to give. It will be wise to
endeavor to show just wherein the writers quoted differ and on what
they agree. A careful examination will show that there is substantial
agreement on the most important points:

1. All agree that there are registers, or natural changes of quality
of tone, corresponding to changes of mechanism or method.

2. All, with the exception of Madame Seiler, agree that the most
important changes take place at or near [Illustration: a'] in female
voices, and the majority consider that this applies to both sexes

3. Often in males there is some laryngeal change lower than this.

4. All agree that the high falsetto of tenors is of a special quality,
and produced by a mechanism of its own--_i.e._, all consider it a
separate register--and often, at least, it begins naturally about
[Illustration: f-sharp'], which is usually, however, written an octave
higher, though really sung as given above.

[Illustration: FIG. 51. A photographic representation of the
appearances of the vocal bands when the subject is sounding first E
and then F sharp, in which latter case "the vibratory portions of the
vocal bands are shortened about one-sixteenth inch," according to Dr.
French, who has been eminently successful in photographing the larynx.
It will be noted that this is the point in the scale at which the
change of register usually takes place--_i.e._, there is a change of
mechanism corresponding to the change in quality. (French-Raymond.)]

The point of greatest strain is generally, for both sexes, about this
point, and many persons cannot sing higher than this--_i.e._, about
[Illustration: f-sharp'] for males, and its octave for females.

It is to be remembered, as Madame Seiler has pointed out, that at the
period of greatest perfection in vocal training, some hundred and
fifty years or more ago, concert pitch was very much lower than it is
to-day; so that to teach tenors to sing in one register up to
[Illustration: a''] then, was quite a different matter from what that
would be to-day. The old Italian masters were accustomed to train
singers to the use of the falsetto, and whatever views may be held as
to the desirability of the tenor using this register, so far as art is
concerned, there can be no question whatever that physiologically it
is easy, and one of the means by which relief may be sought from the
high tension caused by carrying up the lower register.

The author, after a special investigation of this and other questions
connected with the registers, came to the conclusion that the falsetto
in males and the head voice in females are produced by a similar
mechanism. In the high falsetto the vocal bands do not vibrate
throughout their whole breadth, and there must be, for a successful
result, in every case a feeling of ease, due to the relaxation of
certain mechanisms in use up to that point and the employment of new

[Illustration: FIGS. 52. These figures are meant to convey through the
eye some of the main truths regarding the nature of registers and
breaks. The figure on the left applies to the case of one with three
registers in the voice, and with the breaks only very moderately
marked; the illustration on the right applies to the same person after
training, when the breaks have become indistinct, almost
imperceptible. For teaching purposes the author is accustomed to use a
similar diagram, but in shades of the same color, the difference being
rendered less obvious by intermediate shades _between_ the register
shades in the right-hand figure.]

The author now offers, with all respect, but confidence, a few
criticisms on the eminent investigators whose conclusions and methods
he has been discussing.

Madame Seiler was the writer who, as has been already said, brought
more numerous and higher qualifications of a scientific and practical
kind to the investigation of this subject than any other person.
However, the study of physics, involving as it does the use of methods
of extreme precision, tends to beget habits of mind which are not in
all respects the best for the consideration of biological problems.
Madame Seiler and her master, the physicist Helmholtz, regarded the
vocal mechanism very much in the same light as they did their
laboratory apparatus. Only in this way can the author explain some of
Madame Seiler's positions; but on this assumption one can understand
why she should make five registers, and consider them all, apparently,
of equal importance. This latter, together with the tendency generally
to present her views in too rigid a form, was, we think, her great

Behnke admitted that all five registers might be heard, especially in
contraltos, but he did not attach equal importance to each of these

Mackenzie the author conceives to have been misled by the very method
that he considered a special virtue in his investigations--the
examination of trained singers. Surely, if one would learn what is
Nature's teaching on this subject, he must not draw conclusions from
trained vocalists alone! By training one may learn to walk well on his
hands, but this does not prove such a method the natural one, nor
would it be good reasoning to draw this conclusion, even if a few
individuals were found who could thus walk more rapidly than in the
usual way.

The diversity that Mackenzie found in singers does not, in the
author's opinion, exist in nature; much if not most of it was due to
training, and all that can be said is that several people may sing in
different ways with not greatly different æsthetic results; but such
methods of investigation may, as in this case, lead to conclusions
that are dangerously liberal.

The author holds to-day, as he did when he published his results many
years ago, that "Impressions from general laryngoscopic observations
or conclusions drawn from single cases will not settle these
questions. Very likely differences such as these writers allude to may
exist to a slight degree; but if they do, I question whether they are
sufficiently open to observation ever to be capable of definition; nor
is it likely that they interfere with methods of voice-production
which are alike operative in all persons."

Holding these views, not only can the author not agree with those who
believe that the change in a register occurs in different persons of
the same voice (_e.g._, soprano) at appreciably different levels in
the scale, and even varies naturally from day to day, but he holds
that to believe this in theory and embody it in practice is to pursue
a course not only detrimental to the best artistic results, but
contrary to the plain teachings of physiology in general and that of
the vocal organs in particular.

The change in a register should be placed _low_ enough in the scale to
suit all of the same sex. _It is safe to carry a higher register down,
but it is always risky, and may be injurious to the throat, to carry a
lower up beyond a certain point._ The latter leads not only to a
limitation of resources in tone coloring, but also to straining, to
which we have before alluded. Though this process may not be at once
obviously injurious, it _invariably_ becomes so as time passes, and no
vocalist who hopes to sing much and to last can ignore registers, much
less make the change at a point to any appreciable extent removed from
those that scientific investigation and equally sound practice teach
us are the correct ones at which to make the changes.

Why is it that some artists of world-wide reputation sing as well
to-day as twenty years ago, while others have broken down or have
become hopelessly defective in their vocal results in a few years?
There is but one answer in a large proportion of these cases: correct
methods in the former and wrong methods in the latter class of
singers--and "correct" in no small degree refers to a strict
observance of registers.

The author has known a professional soprano to sing every tone in the
trying "Hear, O Israel" (_Elijah_) in the chest register. How can such
a singer hope to retain either voice or a sound throat? But so long as
audiences will applaud exhibitions of mere lung-power and brute force
the teachings of physiology and healthy art will be violated. But,
surely, all artists themselves and all enlightened teachers should
unite in condemning such violations of Nature's plain teachings!

The question of the registers is generally considered now a somewhat
simpler one for males than for females. Basses and barytones sing in
the chest register only; tenors are usually taught to sing in the
chest register; but few teachers believe that the high falsetto is
worth the expenditure of the time and energy necessary to attain
facility in its use.

Probably in many male voices there are the distinctions of register
Madame Seiler alludes to--_i.e._, first chest and second chest, or
some change analogous to the middle of females; but, from one cause
and another, this seems to readily disappear. Whether it would not be
worth maintaining is a question that the author suggests as at least
worth consideration. Certain it is that, speaking generally, there is
no change in males equally pronounced with the passage from the lowest
to the next higher (chest to middle) register in females.

What, then, are the views that the author believes so well grounded,
in regard to the registers, that they may be made, in all confidence,
the basis of teaching?

Without hesitation, he recommends that arrangement of the registers
set forth in the last chapter. It is not the exclusive invention nor
the basis of practice of any one person, but it may fittingly enough
be associated with the name of a woman who for over fifty years has
taught singing with so much regard for true art and for Nature's
teachings--_i.e._, for physiological as well as artistic principles.

Such a method for female voices is wholly consistent with the best
scientific teaching known to the author; it is in harmony with the
laws of vocal hygiene; it gives the singer beautiful tones, and leaves
her with improved, and not injured, vocal organs. Such an arrangement
of the registers is not marred by the rigidity of Madame Seiler's nor
the laxity of Mackenzie's, but combines flexibility with sufficiently
definite limitations.

As to just how much a teacher of singing should say to the pupil on
the subject of registers, and especially in a physiological way, must
depend on circumstances. About the wisdom of teachers of singing (and
elocution) understanding the vocal mechanism, and carefully weighing
the matter of registers from every point of view, the reader of this
book will have no doubt, by this time, the author ventures to hope.

Of course, one may object that for every tone, as it differs slightly
in quality from its neighbor in the scale, there should be a new
register--a new mechanism. Such an objection, though theoretically
sound, is of no practical weight. What students wish to know and
instructors to teach is how to attain to good singing--the kind that
gives genuinely artistic results, and leaves the throat and entire
body of the vocalist the better for his effort. The teaching of this
work in regard to the registers and other subjects is intended to
accomplish this, and not to occupy the attention of readers with vocal
or physiological refinements of no practical importance.

The author has always been of opinion that those who have investigated
and written on this subject have devoted insufficient attention to one
point--viz., the manner of using the breath. The breathing in the use
of the high falsetto, for example, is as different as are the
laryngeal processes; and this is a point of practical importance, for
the voice-user must ever consider economy in breathing. It is
expenditure in this direction that most taxes all singers, even the
best trained and the most highly endowed.

But the student, deeply impressed with the importance of the subject
of registers, may ask: "How am I to distinguish between one register
and another? How am I to know when I am singing with chest, middle, or
head voice?" The answer is: "By sensations"--chiefly by hearing, but
also by certain sensations (less properly termed "feelings") in the
resonance-chambers and to a certain extent in the larynx. Of course,
before one can thus identify any register, he must have heard a singer
of fairly good voice form the tones of this particular register. One
who has never heard sounds of a particular color or quality cannot, of
course, learn to recognize them from mere description, though by this
means he is often _prepared_ to hear, and to associate clear ideas
with that hearing.

As the registers are of such great practical importance, especially
for the female voice, there is no period when it is of so much value
to have a lady teacher as just when the voice is being "placed"--which
should mean the recognition of its main quality, and the teaching of
registers by imitation as well as description. The student should be
made to understand, by practical examples, the subject of "covering,"
or modification. Certainly, the training of a vocalist cannot be
adequately undertaken by even the most learned musician, however good
an instrumentalist, if he has paid no attention to the voice
practically. Much of the teaching done by those ignorant of
voice-production, however well meant, may be a positive drawback, and
leave the would-be singer with faults that may never be wholly

The author would recommend all students who have begun a serious
practical study of the registers to hear, if possible, some singer of
eminence who observes register formation strictly. In this way more
can often be done in getting a clear notion of their characteristic
qualities, in a single evening, than by listening to an ordinary
amateur, or to such a voice as an otherwise excellent vocal teacher
can bring to her work, on many occasions; better one hour listening to
a Melba, with her observance of registers, covering, etc., as set
forth by the author in this chapter, than a score of vocalists of
indifferent, even if not incorrect production. One then has before her
an individual who, after long and careful training, attains results
not, indeed, within the reach of all, but such as may be approached if
the same methods are pursued long enough; and in Madame Melba, and
others that might be named, the student has examples of how those
using correct methods, and not worshipping at the shrine of mere vocal
power, may retain the vocal organs uninjured and the voice unimpaired
after the lapse of well-nigh a score of years of exacting public
singing. Teachers will do well to encourage their pupils to hear the
best singers; for do not students need inspiration as well as

Granted that the ear can at once determine what register the pupil
herself or another singer may be using, what other guide has she?

There are certain sensations, as already said, felt within the
resonance-chambers and larynx, which are sure guides. In a person who
had learned to recognize the correct register formation by the help
of the ear and those sensations now referred to, the latter would
suffice to be a partial guide, at least, even had he become deaf.
While these sensations are absolutely characteristic, it is difficult
to describe them; they must be experienced to be understood. To
attempt to describe the taste of a peach to one who knew that of an
apple but had never eaten a peach would be, perhaps, not absolutely
useless, but would certainly serve little purpose. The sensation must
accompany the correct formation of the tone. The term "straining"
carries with it the idea of unpleasant sensations; all understand
practically what this term means; yet the sensation of strain in a
tenor carrying his chest register too high is no more marked than the
sensation of relief when he changes to the falsetto.

When once the voice has been well placed, little attention need be, or
is usually, paid _consciously_ to the sensations associated of
necessity with all changes in the vocal organs. When one becomes
unduly conscious of any of the normal sensations of the body, he is no
longer a perfectly healthy person. At the same time, as we have
pointed out in Chapter II., and shall do more at length shortly,
sensations are absolutely essential guides for all muscular and other
processes of the body; but they should enter just so much into
consciousness, and no more.

It is practically helpful to the voice-producer and the teacher to
think of the resonance-chambers and the ear as bearing a close
relationship to the movements essential to tone-production. The
sensations from these parts are of importance above all others in
voice-production. They are the chief guides, and the attention may to
advantage be concentrated on them.

No doubt the question of registers for the speaker must be considered,
but this can be done to greater advantage in a later chapter.


All good definitions of a register must recognize two things: change
of quality in the voice, and change of mechanism in the vocal
apparatus. A break is not a register, but occurs because of the
existence of registers. The abrupt transition, or break, is to be
avoided by covering, or modification of the upper tones of the lower
(at least) register.

For an adequate scientific examination of the question of registers,
many qualifications are required in the investigator; and the student,
when not an investigator, should endeavor to weigh the evidence
presented so as to choose with caution from among conflicting
opinions. He should be suspicious of those who scout the value of
scientific study of this or any other subject, and also of those who
claim that experience is of no importance in settling such a question.

Though several well-qualified persons who have written on the subject
differ in some respects, they are in agreement as to many of the more
important points. They are practically all convinced that there is
commonly a change of register for all voices, at or near one point in
the scale (F), and that if this be practically disregarded, dangerous
straining may result.

Conclusions drawn from trained singers, alone, may be misleading. All
classes of persons should be examined with the laryngoscope, if
correct and far-reaching generalizations are to be safely made.

The precision and rigidity of physics and mathematics cannot be
introduced with safety into a subject of this character; otherwise the
division and limits of registers will be fixed with a narrowness of
margin that does not comport with Nature's methods.

In all questions of register, the method of breathing--_i.e._, the
nature of the application of the expiratory blast--must be duly

With male voices, the subject is usually considered much simpler than
in the case of female voices. Men sing mostly in the chest register;
basses and barytones wholly so, with the rarest exceptions. Tenors are
taught to do so. Whether there might not be a subdivision of this
register made to advantage in training, the author leaves as an open
question; but about straining, in the case of tenors and all others,
and as to the importance of recognizing three registers for female
voices, there is in his mind no question. The fact that some may not
be able to produce head tones does not justify carrying up the chest
register to any appreciable extent, even by altos.

Now, as in past times, the high falsetto for males, if good, the
result of proper training, has the warrant of both art and sound

In the use of registers, sensations are infallible guides. Of these,
the most important are those associated with the organs of hearing,
but those arising in the vocal organs are also valuable.

Those only should expect to sing artistically, and to preserve their
voices unimpaired for a long period, who wisely observe Nature's
teachings in regard to registers.



It is highly important for the speaker or singer to realize early in
his career that all forms of artistic expression can be carried out
only through movements--muscular movements; in other words, technique
or execution implies the use of neuro-muscular mechanisms. However
beautiful the conception in the mind of the painter, it can only
become an artistic thing when it assumes material form--when it is put
on canvas. The most beautiful melody is no possession of the world
while it is in the mind of the composer alone; till it is _expressed_,
it is as good as non-existent.

Even poetry can only affect us when it exists in the form of words
produced by lip or pen. Between the glowing thought of the poet and
the corresponding emotion produced in ourselves there must intervene
some form of technique--_i.e._, some application of neuro-muscular
action. This latter term is a convenient one, and has been already
explained. It is a condensed expression for that use of the nervous
and muscular systems that results in movements, simple or complex.

Without nerve-cells and muscles movements are impossible, speaking
generally, and for a willed or voluntary movement there must be
something more, an idea or concept. Before one can make a movement
resulting in a simple line or even dot on a piece of paper, he must
have the idea of that line or dot in mind. In like manner, before one
plays or sings a single note, he must have the idea of that note in
mind; in other words, the idea is the antecedent to the movement, and
absolutely essential. To have such an idea, memory is necessary. It is
impossible to sing a tone after another, as an imitative effort,
unless one has the power to retain that tone in memory for at least a
brief period of time; and before this same tone can be reproduced on
sight of it as represented by a written note, the memory of the sound
to which it answers must first be recalled; and not only so, but other
memories--indeed, memories of all the sensations associated with the
bodily mechanism used in producing it.

This applies to all movements, of whatever kind, that we at any time
execute. Without the past--_i.e._, without memories--no present. Some
of the memories associated with an act may be lost, and others,
sufficient for its performance in some fashion, remain. A man may
forget, after the lapse of months or years, how to tie his necktie in
a certain way, as he stands before a mirror; yet on turning away he
may succeed at once. In this case the visual memories, those that come
through the eyes, were lost, but others, those associated with
muscular movements, remain. The muscular sense may prove an adequate
guide when the visual is ineffective.

In the same way, one may call up a melody by moving the fingers over
the piano keys, when it cannot otherwise be recovered, or one rescues
an air from oblivion by humming a few of its tones; all of which is
explained by the revival of muscular and similar memories.

All voluntary movements are at first accomplished relatively slowly
and with difficulty. They soon weary us. A child learns to walk with
the greatest difficulty, and only after numberless failures or errors.
The first tones of the would-be pianist or violinist are produced but
slowly and with great difficulty, in spite of the most determined
effort. If the attempts to vocalize are any more successful, it is
because one has already learned to talk--a process that in the first
instance (in infancy) was even more laborious than that of walking.

The degree to which any one succeeds in his earliest efforts to sing a
scale will depend on the readiness with which he can use a variety of
neuro-muscular mechanisms--indeed, all those associated with the
respiratory, laryngeal, and resonance apparatus. Fortunately for the
voice-user, this apparatus has all been in use in ordinary speaking.
But when this latter process is analyzed, it is found that it is not
essentially different from singing. In each the same mechanism is
used, and in much the same way; but every one knows that not all who
can talk are able to sing, and it is usual to say that those who
cannot have no "ear" for music; and this expresses a part of the
truth, though not in a scientific way. What is really the truth is
found to be, on analysis, that certain guiding sensations, chiefly
those from the hearing apparatus (ear, nerves, brain), are
insufficient, owing either to natural defect or lack of training; but
that this is not the only explanation is plain from the fact that many
composers with the most vivid musical imagination, the most perfect
auditory memory, and the most acute ear, cannot sing in any but the
most imperfect manner. As we have said before, the speaker of great
power to affect his fellows through tones, or the artistic singer,
must be a sort of vocal athlete. In the athlete there is a very
perfect association into one whole of certain sensations from eye,
skin, muscles, etc., and certain movements. These exist in all men,
but in very unequal degree. The singer is a tone specialist in whom
the perception of the pitch and the quality of sounds may not be more
acute than in the composer, possibly less so, but he can do what the
composer of music often cannot--viz., associate these sensations with
muscular movements of a highly perfect character; in different words,
he has the technique which others have not in an equal degree.

In the singer and speaker there is a very close association between
the sensations of the resonance-chambers, the larynx, and other parts
of the vocal mechanism, and those from the ear. So perfect does this
become from training that the necessary technique at last becomes
easy. But it is of the greatest importance that the exact nature of
this process be realized by both students and teachers, for weighty
considerations grow out of it.

We wish to impress the fact that the nature of all neuro-muscular
processes is essentially the same. Learning to sing is like learning
to talk, and the latter is not radically different from learning to
walk. This last is at first slow, imperfect, laborious, and largely a
voluntary or willed process, or, more strictly, a series of processes.
As progress is made, there is less of the voluntary and more that is
involuntary, or what physiologists term reflex. When ideas, feelings,
etc., enter into a process which is carried out reflexly, a _habit_ is

One may say that talking implies a series of associated reflexes, the
parts associated being the respiratory, the laryngeal, and the
resonance apparatus. Singing only approaches this condition of reflex
action and habit after practice, and yet no air is perfectly sung
except when the result is the outcome of a sort of new habit. Every
song involves, the learning of new vocal habits. One forms a new habit
of an athletic character all the more readily because of previous
ones. A man learns to play one game of ball the better, usually, if he
have already played at another, the reason being that he has only to
modify the action of neuro-muscular mechanisms, not associate new
mechanisms together to the same extent as in the formation of a habit
of a widely different kind, as rowing a boat. At the same time, one
must always unlearn something--break up old habits, to some extent. An
opera singer often makes a failure of oratorio at first. The sets of
reflexes or the habits, bodily and mental, which he has found valuable
for the one form of art do not suit the other perfectly; nevertheless,
the same materials are used, the reflexes are in the main the same. He
must use preventions, or _inhibitions_, as the physiologists term
them. Rather is it that he must avoid doing certain things--_i.e._,
modify his neuro-muscular processes or reflexes, than form wholly new

Were it not for reflexes and habits, learning would be so slow one
lifetime would not suffice to make an artist. It must be apparent that
habits and reflexes are Nature's ways of economizing energy. As the
best have but a limited amount of energy, it should be the aim of
every one who will not be a mere reckless spendthrift to economize, to
make the most of what Nature has given him; hence the purpose of
practice is not only to render success more certain and more perfect,
but to make efforts tell to the fullest extent with as little
expenditure of energy to the speaker or singer as possible. _He sings
or speaks best who attains the end with the least expenditure of

It may with scientific accuracy be said that the object of the student
should be to attain to the formation of correct habits in singing and
speaking, and of the teacher to guide in this process. It follows that
all practice by the beginner should be carried out only in the
presence of one who knows the correct methods and can teach the
student how to form his habits wisely. Practice alone may not only do
little good, but, by the formation of wrong habits of production, be
positively mischievous; yet a trainer of athletes often lays more
restrictions on his ward as to when and how he shall practise, and
exercises more supervision over it, than do some teachers of singing,
in spite of the fact that the apparatus the singer or speaker uses is
much more delicate, and wrong habits much more injurious.

The admonition "Practise, practise," is greatly overdone. The best
results cannot be obtained in either singing, speaking, or playing,
with the lengthy and necessarily more or less imperfect if not
careless practice in which many students of music indulge. Better ten
minutes with the whole attention of a fresh and interested mind given
intelligently to a subject than ten hours of mere mechanical movement.
It is a mistake to suppose that the acquirement of a sound technique
is a purely mechanical process. We have shown that for all successful
effort there must be the idea, and as soon as that fades, from
weariness, etc., the practice should be discontinued. Students are
not treated fairly when given exercises the meaning or purpose of
which is not explained to them.

There is now more need than ever that the teacher of music or
elocution should be intellectual and not mechanical in his methods.
Technique is mechanism, but it should be mechanism subordinated to
ideas. Technique is essential to art, but it is not art. Art is the
soul, technique the body. The soul will be unknown to the world
without technique; hence the author strives in this book to teach the
principles on which a sound vocal technique rests, but only that what
is best in the soul be not hidden, that the one noble or poetic
thought shall be multiplied a thousand times--indeed, that if it be
sufficiently worthy, it shall, like Tennyson's Brook, "go on forever."
To believe, on the one hand, that the highest art can be attained with
a very mediocre technique, and, on the other, that a perfect technique
is the main object of musical training, are alike great and
mischievous errors.

The author has been asked frequently such questions as the following:
"When is the best time to practise? How long should a singer practise
at one time, and for how long during a single day? Should one practise
softly (_piano_) or vigorously (_forte_)?"--etc.

Often the student is puzzled by contradictory opinions on this
subject. One celebrated prima donna states that she never practises
more than one hour a day; another, equally distinguished, that she
has often spent several hours in almost continuous strenuous practice.
What is the student to believe, and whom to follow? No one, for no two
persons are alike. All the above questions can be safely and surely
answered in the light of science and experience combined, but such
questions cannot be settled by the dictum of any singer, teacher, or
writer, nor does the experience, in itself, of any one person furnish
an adequate guide for others.

[Illustration: FIG. 53. By this diagram the author has attempted to
give the reader some idea of the nature of the chain of processes
involved in singing a single tone, from the time the eye looks on the
note till the muscles concerned have given it utterance as a tone. The
various nervous centres concerned are all in the brain (though the
spinal cord supplies some subordinate centres). There are sensory
centres, or those for the eye and the ear, and motor centres, or those
sending the commands to the muscles involved. Further, these must be
_connected_ by paths not shown in detail, but represented by one
centre spoken of as an "association" centre, which may also, possibly,
have much to do with emotions, etc. But, at all events, the dependence
of movements on ingoing messages or sensations is emphasized. The deaf
cannot speak or sing, and the blind cannot read (ordinary) music. The
defect may not be in either senses or muscles, but in the relating
nervous mechanism between them. As explained in the body of the work,
execution depends on at least two factors, sensations, or ingoing
messages, and movements determined by these. Now the _connection_
between the ingoing and the outgoing impulses is the most important
and the least understood part, but the above diagram will at least
serve to emphasize the fact that such connections exist, and that in a
general way the result, performance, can be explained. No attempt has
been made to trace the path of other sensory impulses than those from
eye and ear, as this would make the diagram too complicated.]

Investigation has shown that the use of muscles tends to the
accumulation of the waste products of vital activity; that such
accumulation is associated with the experience in consciousness of
what we term "fatigue," and which is preceded by "weariness." The
latter is a warning that the more serious condition is approaching,
but is to be distinguished from another feeling not necessary to name,
often present in unwilling youthful students, and for which various
forms of treatment are sometimes tried so unsuccessfully that it is as
well to discontinue study altogether.

1. The time at which, as a rule, any work can best be carried out is
during the early hours of the day, so that if it is possible, practice
should be begun early, and after some preliminary exercise for the
good of the body generally--_e.g._, a short walk, during which the
lungs may be filled with pure air. As the muscles of the chest, etc.,
are to be used in voice-production, such a walk or other form of
general exercise should not be lengthy. Energy should be reserved for
the muscular activities involved in vocal practice.

2. The principle that guides in all use of the muscles, all exercise,
is that it be taken under the most favorable circumstances and short
of fatigue, even of weariness; hence the question whether the student
should practise five minutes or one hour is one that he himself, and
he alone, can determine, provided he is old enough and observant
enough to know when he begins to feel weary in his vocal mechanism,
whether it be in the respiratory organs, the larynx, or the
resonance-chambers. With some there is a weak spot, and this settles
the question for all other parts. As a rule, beginners will do well
not to practice, at first, for longer at one time than five minutes,
not only because of the possible weariness, but because at the outset
it is difficult to keep the attention fixed. The ear and brain tire as
well as the muscles.

Naturally, the condition of the student at the time has much to do
with the length of a practice, but all things are determined by the
sensible application of that principle which science and experience
alike show to be a safe guide.

Naturally, as in other exercises, the duration of an exercise may be
gradually lengthened with experience. One singer may find an hour a
day sufficient, if she be already perfectly trained in every
respect--be "in good form," or "fit," as the athletes say--and have
only light or _coloratura_ parts to sing; but would this suffice to
form a singer to sustain the heaviest dramatic parts for hours
together before a large public audience? The training of a
hundred-yards sprinter should not be the same as that prescribed for a
long-distance runner or a wrestler.

[Illustration: FIG. 54. The above is a diagrammatic representation of
a highly magnified section (or very thin slice) through the outermost
or most superficial part of the great brain (cortex cerebri), and is
inserted to help the reader to form some idea of the complexity of
structure of the most important part of the brain so far as the
highest mental processes are concerned. This complexity is greater in
man than in other animals.]

[Illustration: FIG. 55. A nerve-cell from the outer rind of the great
brain (cortex cerebri), much magnified. (Schäfer.)]

3. In all practice it is ever to be borne in mind that the end, even
in an exercise, is artistic. Tones of that quality only which is the
best possible to the singer at the time are to be produced, and
everything else must yield to this.

4. No wise trainer ever allows his charges to go on a racing track and
at once run a hundred yards at the highest possible speed. Such a
course would be against all sound knowledge and all the best
experience. Hence the question of _piano_ and _forte_ practice answers
itself; the singer should never begin any exercise _forte_, but either
_piano_ or _moderato_--as to which depends on the individual. Some
persons can only after long study produce really good tones _piano_;
such if not most persons should, of course, begin practising with
moderate force.

Certainly, the voice-user should, in order to gain volume, gradually
increase the vigor of his practice, but exactly how to do this, and to
what extent daily, are questions in which the advice of a sensible and
experienced teacher is of great value, though the principle on which
that opinion should be founded is clear enough.

5. The questions as to the total amount of time to be devoted to
practice in a single day, and as to whether practice should be
continued day after day for weeks and months without interruption,
must be decided by the condition of the student, and not by any
arbitrary opinion. Some individuals and some racers have a capacity
for steady work not possessed by others, and happy are they; but there
are others who go on by spurts, and such natures are often capable of
reaching lofty artistic heights, if they be wisely managed. They need
much the same sort of care as a very fleet but uncertain race-horse,
and they are often a source of disgust to themselves and of worry to
their teachers; but they in some cases get far beyond what the more
steady ones can attain to, while others are so unsteady without being
talented that they are a trial, and a trial only, to all concerned.
Such people should, even when clever, not be encouraged in their
vagaries, but brought gradually and tactfully under a stricter

6. "Hasten slowly" applies to all musical practice, that of the voice
included, and there never was a time in the history of the world,
unfortunately, when people believed in it less. The author would
especially warn the student against attempting to force progress by
violent or unduly long-continued practices, for if the vocal apparatus
be strained, it may remain impaired for months or even for life.
"Little and often" is a good maxim for vocal practice, all the more as
the discontinuation, for the time, of voice-production need not imply
that the mind must cease to act. An artist is not formed by
vocalization alone, but by processes of education that are many and
complicated, into which we might be tempted to enter did they not lie
beyond the range of the present work.

If the principles set forth in this chapter are scientifically
reliable, and we believe they will not be questioned, certain
practical considerations are well worthy of special attention. If
practice, repetition, leads to the formation of habits more or less
fixed, then there can be no surer way to ruin a speaker or vocalist
than to permit him to practise by a wrong method; the more he
practises, the more he stamps in what is bad. It follows that the most
hopeless cases eminent teachers have to deal with are to be found
among those vocalists who come to them after years of professional
life before the public. One must look on some of these people as on a
building spoiled by a bad architectural design. In some cases there is
nothing to do but to take the whole structure apart and put it
together afresh. It may be humiliating to the vocalist, and it is a
severe condemnation of certain methods of teaching, but there is often
no other course open, the only question being as to whether the
material is good enough to warrant such a radical proceeding. Every
eminent teacher can recall such cases, and might fill volumes with
their histories. If more of these were published as warnings to
students and teachers, a good purpose would be served. It is truly sad
to find that the prospects of one who might have been formed into a
fine artist have been hopelessly ruined by years of practice based on
principles that are radically unsound.

In the next chapter some specific applications of the principles
discussed in the foregoing pages will be considered.


All forms of artistic and other expression imply movements. For a
willed or voluntary movement there are required (1) an idea, (2) a
neuro-muscular mechanism. Such movements may be relatively simple or
highly complex. They all tend, when frequently carried out, to become
reflex, and to some extent unconscious or subconscious. Combinations
of reflexes when associated with consciousness become habits.
Movements only attain their highest perfection when they reach this
stage. It follows that the purpose of all musical practice should be
to establish those reflexes which attain the end, the ideal, and to
form correct habits. A poem properly recited or a song satisfactorily
sung implies a combination of certain reflexes or habits. Some of
these are in their main features common to all speech and song, but
many are peculiar to each example.

As phonation implies the use of the muscles (neuro-muscular
mechanisms) of the (1) respiratory organs, (2) vocal bands, (3)
resonance-chambers, and as these must all work in harmony, or be
"co-ordinated," it will be seen that speaking and singing are
physiologically highly complex. When, in addition, ideas and feelings
are associated, and determine the exact form of these co-ordinations,
the whole matter is seen to be still more complex. The emission of a
single tone implies (1) an idea--the nature of the sound as to pitch
and quality, (2) such an arrangement of all the parts of the mechanism
as will produce it. The former involves memory of the tone; the
latter, memories of former movements. Then, partly as a series of
voluntary acts and partly reflexly, according as the student is more
or less advanced, or the particular tone new or old in experience, do
the various neuro-muscular arrangements pass into orderly action. In
this process the ear is the chief guide, always in relation to
memories. When one uses the printed page, the eyes also guide--_i.e._,
the nervous impulses that pass in through these avenues determine the
outgoing ones that bring the muscles into action. In doing so they
rouse many others (associated nervous connections) which are highly
important when an artistic result is to be reached.

To consider a single case: Assume that the note [Illustration: a'] is
to be sung. The following are required: (1) Memory of this tone. (2)
Adaptation through eye and ear of all the neuro-muscular mechanisms
required for (_a_) bringing the vocal bands into the correct position
and degree of tension; (_b_) the proper shape, tension, etc., of the
resonance-chambers; (_c_) that use of the breathing apparatus suitable
to cause the proper vibrations of the vocal bands. All use of the
voice implies this much, but in most instances there are _associated_
nervous mechanisms and ideas that are highly important in determining
the exact volume, quality, etc., of the tone as related to expression
of ideas and feelings according to conventional usage.

The breath-stream must in all cases be so employed that there shall be
economy of energy--no waste. Waste occurs whenever air escapes to any
appreciable extent through the glottis chink, as that implies an
imperfect adjustment of the vocal bands and the expiratory current.
From this and other points of view it may be said that _he is the best
singer who gets the most perfect result with the least expenditure of

It is of the highest importance that during every practice, and every
moment of each practice, attention be given to as perfect a result as
possible, and that the same method be invariably employed.

All questions as to methods of practising can be decided on well-known
scientific principles which harmonize with experience, and need not be
left in that loose and unsatisfactory condition when the dictum of
some individual is substituted for principles capable of actual
experimental demonstration.



Certain sounds may be made without the use of words or syllables, even
without the employment of vowels or consonants, but intonation proper
cannot be carried out without vowels, at least.

The exact nature of vowels and consonants will be considered in the
next chapter, but in the meantime it may be pointed out that a vowel
is a free and open sound requiring for its production a certain form
of the resonance-chambers. Neither vowels nor consonants are
absolutely pure--that is, entirely free from foreign elements, from
noise; but for all practical purposes a vowel is a pure sound, a
consonant a sound accompanied inevitably by much noise. This noise is
largely due to the difficulties of sounding consonants, the breath
breaking against the vocal organs, especially the teeth, lips, etc.,
much as the waves of the sea against a rocky beach. So far then as
musical quality is concerned, a consonant is an unmitigated nuisance.
On the other hand, none but the most elemental communication by sounds
could be carried out by the use of vowels alone. The consonants stop
the breath-current, separate the vowels, and thus lay the foundation
for the expression of ideas. Ideas imply differences; a new idea is
conveyed by a new word, which in its simplest form is a syllable.

When a consonant is introduced after a vowel sound, a momentary arrest
is produced in the breath-flow, and this has its corresponding effect
on the mind. It is, in fact, equivalent to a pause--say a comma or a
period. If introduced before a vowel, it is marked off in a more
definite way. The effect of this is to enable the ear the better to
grasp the sounds. There is the principle of differentiation and the
principle of rest, both highly important in all sensory and other
psychic or mental processes.

Consider the sentence "He is a man"--composed purely of monosyllables.
Remove the consonants, and we have the following: "e i a a." Their
ineffectiveness in conveying ideas is at once plain, for though "a
man" conveys two ideas, such are not expressed by the vowels, which
are identical, while "e" and "i" are common to too many words of one
syllable to serve any useful purpose, alone, in the conveyance of
_definite_ ideas. The consonants at once mark off the limitations;
they fence around the ideas, so to speak. For the communication of
ideas they are indispensable; nevertheless, being largely noises, they
are musically abominable.

It follows that voice-production should begin with vowel sounds, and
not words--not even syllables. For successful intonation, the first
steps should be made as simple as possible, as we have already
endeavored to show, hence no such complication as a consonantal noise
should be introduced. Upon this point there is room for no difference
of opinion, though as to which vowel sound is best suited for the
beginner, and for more advanced voice-production, there has been great
diversity in teaching--a diversity which we propose to show, in the
next chapter, need not exist to any appreciable extent.

Certain vowel sounds may be said to be common to most of the languages
used by civilized peoples. These are _u_ (_oo_), _[=o]_, _a_ (_ah_),
_[=a]_, _i_ (_ei_), and _[=e]_. There is, fortunately, among teachers
considerable agreement as to the question of the best vowel sound with
which to begin intonation, or the process of forming musical tones.
There can be no question that _a_ (ah) is for general purposes the
best, the reason for which will appear later. Unfortunately, there is
not in the minds of students or teachers generally a sufficiently deep
conviction of the importance of forming the voice by long-continued
practice with vowels only, for which lack the spirit of the times is
largely responsible. Until a student of either speaking or singing can
form every vowel perfectly, which implies the recognition of these
sounds as pure and perfect, and the ability to sing them as the tones
of a musical scale, he should not take a single step in any other
direction. To do so is to waste tune and to lower artistic ideals.

When words are to be used, the question as to which language should be
employed is for the singer, at least, a very important one. The ideal
vocalist who will bring before the ideal public the best in vocal
music must sing in Italian, French, German, and English, at least.
Each of these languages produces its own effects through the voice,
and each presents its own advantages and difficulties; but all
competent to judge are agreed that Italian, because of the abundance
of vowels in its words, is the best language in which to sing, or, at
all events, to begin with as a training. Because of the prevalence of
consonants, the German and the English languages are relatively
unmusical. The English abounds in hissing sounds, which are a trial to
the singer with an exacting ear and perfect taste, and produce most
unwelcome effects on the refined listener who really puts music first
and the conveyance of ideas second in a vocal composition. It should,
of course, be the aim of the student to overcome these difficulties,
as German and English, the languages of Goethe, Schiller, and
Shakespeare, are for dramatic and some other purposes not equalled by
any other languages.

But the artist, and above all the musical artist, must be a citizen of
the world. He deals with those forms of emotion common to all mankind,
and not with the peculiar little combinations of ideas that grow up in
a province, city, or village; though of course he will not neglect
local coloring, so well illustrated in the folk-songs or popular
melodies that have survived for ages in different countries.

Though a vowel can be produced pure only when the resonance-chambers
assume a certain form, this is, of course, only one link in the chain
of production. The breathing apparatus and the larynx are also
concerned, and we are again brought back, as ever, to the triple
combination of the three sets of mechanisms so often alluded to, yet,
we venture to think, very inadequately linked in the minds of
learners, if not also of teachers.

In producing a vowel sound the end aimed at is, on the one hand,
purity, on the other, as a result, the easy and effective use of
mechanisms--_i.e._, the technique. In every case the breath must be
used without waste--just enough, and no more; the laryngeal apparatus,
the vocal bands, must be so adapted as to set the air of the
resonance-chambers into perfect vibration, which only occurs when the
expiratory blast is applied in the correct way and at the right moment
to the properly adjusted vocal bands. This latter we have defined as
the attack. It implies giving a good start to the tone. It is not all,
but it is a large half, in the artist and for the auditor.


We shall now give further attention to some of the more important
parts of the resonance-chambers, in so far as they bear directly on

In singing and speaking, the larynx should be _steadied_, but not held
rigidly fixed in any one position. It will be remembered that to this
part of the vocal mechanism are attached, below, the trachea, and
above, the tongue, indirectly through the hyoid bone and the
thyro-hyoid membrane, as well as certain muscles which influence the
relative position of these various parts, so that to maintain the
larynx in the same position, absolutely, must be against Nature's
methods. The tongue alone must in its movements tend to alter the
position of the larynx, as we have before pointed out. At the same
time, the laxness and lack of control which some singers permit in
their vocal organs, under the mistaken idea that all the parts of the
"throat" cannot be too free, prevents them from getting the effects
they desire, with that vigor and certainty the public so much admires,
and rightly so. The golden mean should be observed; between undue
tension, which implies inability to control, whether it be in the
larynx or the breathing apparatus, and a looseness inconsistent with
neat and certain results, the voice-producer must choose, with that
common sense so indispensable to success in all undertakings, but
which will never be adequately encouraged till students look more
frequently for the reasons of the procedures recommended to them, and
teachers strive to gain influence with their pupils by showing them
that what they recommend lies beyond their own minds--that it, in
fact, has its foundation in the laws of Nature.

Of the tongue, soft palate, and lips, which are the principal
modifiers of the shape of the mouth cavity, the tongue has by far the
most influence. When the tongue lies flat in the mouth, it may be
considered to be in its primary position, and it is important that in
singing and speaking the student learn to begin his voice-production
with this organ in that position, or a slight modification of it, for
it is only when it is thus placed that a tone at once round, full, and
pure can be produced.

In order to secure this result, the vocalist or speaker must begin by
taking breath through the mouth, as we have already insisted, and at
once, before there is time for any stiffening of parts, commence to
intonate--_i.e._, as soon as enough air has been inhaled for the
purpose intended. The correct position is facilitated when one taking
breath through the mouth acts as if about to _yawn_. If this act be
well imitated, the student will find, on looking into a hand-glass,
that the tongue is more or less furrowed behind in the middle--in
other words, it forms a sort of trough; and the deeper the trough the
student learns to form at will, the better, for there are times in
actual singing and speaking when this must be as deep as possible. It
is clear that in this way the central convexity above, formed by the
hard palate, forms with the corresponding concavity in the tongue a
sort of trumpet-shaped organ admirably adapted for the production of
the desired tone.

The tongue is important in the highest degree not only in the
formation of vowels, as will be shown more fully in the next chapter,
but also in shaping consonants.

It is sometimes important to move the tongue from one position to
another with great rapidity. Such a composition as Figaro's song
(cavatina) in Rossini's "Barber of Seville" could not be properly sung
by any one not possessing great control over the tongue. Indeed, this
composition may be considered a perfect test of the extent to which
the singer is a master of mouth gymnastics; and this is only one of
many such works. In like manner, many passages in Shakespeare and
others of the best writers in all languages can only be spoken with
effect by those with a mastery over the tongue, lips, soft palate,
etc., but above all, the tongue.

Important as are the lips, many persons tend to use them too much, and
the tongue too little, in speaking and singing. They attempt to make
up for a mouth almost closed in front by the teeth, by excessive
movements of the lips.

Special tongue and lip practice should be carried out before a mirror.
The lips should be kept rather close to the gums, and moved away as
little as possible (_i.e._, the lips), as to do so serves no good
purpose, and is unpleasant to the eye of the observer. Teeth and lips
must be regarded, so far as musical sounds are concerned, as danger
regions--rocks on the shore, against which the singer or speaker may
shipwreck his tones. His object should be to use them adequately to
form vowels and consonants--in other words, in the formation, not the
spoiling, of words, as is so often the case.

We cannot too much insist on both speaker and singer attending to
forming a connection between his ear and his mouth cavity. He is to
hear, that he may produce good tones, and the tones cannot be
correctly formed if they be not well observed. To listen to one's self
carefully and constantly is a most valuable but little practised art.
The student should listen as an inexorable critic, accepting only the
best from himself.

This leads to the consideration of the question of the open mouth. The
expression "open mouth" means, no doubt, to most people, the open lips
rather than the open mouth cavity--_i.e._, open in front, the teeth
well separated. In voice-production, by "open mouth" both open cavity
and open lips must be understood.

There is a special tendency in many, perhaps in most persons, to close
the mouth cavity unduly in singing a descending scale. This is often
accompanied by a bad use of the breath, and a general relaxation of
the vocal apparatus, which is possibly more frequent in sopranos and
tenors, whose chief effects are often produced by their high tones.
But to-day, more than ever, when refined intellectual and emotional
effects are demanded, is it important that the lower tones, so
effective in producing emotional states, should not be neglected by
any singer of whatever voice; while for speakers high tones are really
comparatively little used.

Much more attention is paid by teachers and students to the open mouth
at the present time than formerly; in fact, like some other good
things, it is often overdone. The individuality of the singer and
speaker must always be borne in mind. If some are obliged to open the
mouth as much as others, the result will not be happy. Any one may
demonstrate to himself that the quality of a tone may be at once
changed by unduly opening or closing the mouth. One may say that _the
mouth should be sufficiently opened to produce the best possible
effect_. We have never seen the mouth opened to such an extent that it
was positively unsightly--reminding one of the rhinoceros at a
zoo--without feeling that the tone had suffered thereby.

If all would remember that the mouth is best opened by simply
_dropping the lower jaw_, passively, in the easiest manner possible,
the difficulties some students experience would disappear. Many act as
if the process were chiefly an active one, while the reverse is the
case, as one may observe in the sleeper when the muscles become unduly
relaxed--a condition that is often accompanied by snoring, which is
produced by a mouth-breathing that gives rise to vibrations of the
soft palate. We mean to say that the lower jaw drops when muscles
relax, and that opening the mouth is largely a passive thing, while
closing the mouth is an active process.

The position of the head in its influence on tone-production is an
insufficiently considered subject. It is impossible that the head be
much raised or lowered without changes being produced in the vocal
apparatus, especially the larynx, and if the tone is not to suffer in
consequence, special care must be taken to make compensatory changes
in the parts affected. It is only necessary to sing any vowel, and
then raise the chin greatly, to observe a distinct change in the
quality of the tone, with corresponding sensations in the vocal

To speak or sing with the head turned to one side is plainly
unfavorable to the well-being of the parts used, because it leads to
compression, which gives rise to that congestion before referred to as
the source of so many evils in voice-users. To sit at a piano and sing
is an unphysiological proceeding, because it implies that the head is
bent in reading the music on a page much lower than the eyes, and
when, with this, the head is turned to one side to allow of reading
the music on the distant side of the page, furthest from the middle
line of the head, the case is still worse. If all who thus use the
vocal organs do not give evidence of the truth of the above by
hoarseness, etc., it is simply because in young and vigorous organs
there may be considerable power of resisting unfavorable influences.
The student is recommended to use his voice in the standing position
only, when possible, as all others are more or less unnatural.

One often has the opportunity to observe how the effect is lost when a
reader bends his head downward to look at his book or manuscript; and
he himself, if the process is long-continued, will almost certainly
feel the injurious influence of this acting on his vocal organs.



It is no doubt valuable, indeed for most singers essential, to employ
a series of elaborate exercises, or _vocalises_, which in some cases
differ from each other only by slight gradations; but it is to be
borne in mind that all the actual principles involved can be expressed
practically in a very few exercises. These are: (1) The single
sustained tone; (2) the tones of a scale sung so as to be smoothly
linked together; (3) the same, sung somewhat more independently of
each other; (4) the same, but each tone beginning and ending very
suddenly. If the execution of any vocal musical composition be
analyzed, it will be found that these four methods cover substantially
the whole ground. As one other is very extensively used in giving
expression in the form of shading, it is worthy of special
mention--viz., (5) the swell. All others are modifications of the

As these methods of tone-production are of so much importance, it will
be worth while to analyze them. It will be found that in each there is
a characteristic use of the breathing mechanism. The larynx and the
resonance-chambers are of course intermediate, as usual, between the
breath-stream and the result, the tone; without them there could be
no tones. But if the student have clearly in mind the memory of the
tone he wishes to produce, including its various properties of pitch,
volume, quality, etc., it will be found that the point requiring
strict attention, in production, is the breathing, especially the
manner of using the expiratory current.

1. The sustained tone requires an amount of breath proportional to its
length, and the great aim in its production should be to convert, so
to speak, all the breath into tone, as we explained in a previous
chapter. This sustained tone, which may be practised with advantage on
every one of the notes of a scale, is, in the nature of things, the
very foundation of all good singing and speaking.

2. In the second and third exercises the differences in the method lie
in the attack and the manner of using the breath. The smoothly linked
tones are the more difficult for most people, since they require
special control over the laryngeal mechanism and the breathing
apparatus. Between the singing of a scale in this manner (_legato_),
and as it is frequently done, there is the same difference as in
walking up-stairs as does a perfectly trained ballet-dancer, and this
act as carried out by a rough countryman, used only to ploughed
fields, etc. For a perfect execution, the attack, while decisive
enough, must be most carefully regulated, and the breathing, which is
always to be considered in a good attack, must be of the most even
character; the outflow requires the most perfectly controlled
movements of the respiratory apparatus. In the other form of exercise
(detached tones) there is often, at least, a little more emphasis on
the attack, and the breathing is perhaps not always so even, but in
some passages, in actual singing, the method employed for these less
closely linked tones is in most respects the same as the last.

3. Very different from all the preceding is the mode of production
usually designated by musicians _staccato_, _marcato_, etc. The tone
is attacked suddenly, and as suddenly dropped, which, expressed
physiologically, means that the entire vocal mechanism is rapidly
adjusted, one part to another, and as suddenly relaxed; and the one
seems to be about as difficult as the other. In this a certain sudden
tension of the vocal apparatus is essential. The whole respiratory
apparatus, after the breath is taken, is held more or less tense. In
executing these abrupt (staccato) effects the diaphragm is the chief
agent, and operates against the column of air in the lungs, the chest
and abdominal walls being kept more or less tense.

Though this is the case, the voice-producer will succeed best if he
gives attention to the resonance-chambers, after having put the
breathing mechanism into the right condition. There should be as
little movement of the chest walls, diaphragm, larynx, etc., as
possible. The whole is a question of tension, but not rigidity, and
the reason the staccato effect is so difficult for most persons is
that they attempt to accomplish it by _excessive movements_ of the
breathing apparatus or larynx.

The _mind_ must be relieved of any feeling of undue tension, and the
result attained by the establishment of a close connection between the
ear and the resonance-chambers. The first interrupted effects should
be of very brief duration and as _piano_ as possible, but the attempt
to produce the real staccato may to great advantage be preceded by an
exercise recommended in Chapter VIII.,--viz., singing a tone of some
duration, then suddenly interrupting it, and, with the same breath,
beginning the tone again as suddenly as it was interrupted. In fact,
till this can be done with ease the staccato proper should not be
attempted, for though the principles involved are the same, the
execution requires far more skill than the exercise recommended for an
earlier stage, and which it is well to continue throughout.

Simple as these exercises seem from mere description, or as carried
out with a certain degree of success, perfection in them is not to be
attained short of years of the most diligent study. How many singers
living can sing an ascending and a descending scale, in succession,
with a perfect staccato, to mention no other effect? Yet among all the
resources of dramatic singing and speaking none is more important than
this one. What so eloquent as the silence after a perfect stop--a
complete and satisfactory arrest of the tone? How many modern actors
are capable of it? How many singers? Instead of the perfect arrest,
the listener is conscious, not of the rounded and complete tone, but
of an edge more or less ragged. There is some noise with the actual

The above exercises, when carried out to a perfect result, give us
_bel canto_ singing, for which the old Italian school was so noted,
and which is now largely a lost art, not so much because the methods
are not known to teachers, as because students will not do the work
necessary to attain to this _bel canto_. We seek for short cuts, and
we get corresponding results.

The _bel canto_ is, simply, beautiful singing, the result of perfect
technique, and is opposed to effects which are not truly artistic,
though no doubt often highly expressive to the unmusical and the
inartistic. They may appeal to us as feats, but they are not artistic
results, and, as we have before insisted, they are injurious in many
cases to the vocal organs, while good voice-production strengthens

5. The swell is simply a modification of the sustained tone. When a
tone is perfectly sustained, without any change in volume, etc., we
have a most valuable effect, and one very difficult to achieve,
because it implies such a steady application of the breath power and
such nice adjustments of all the parts concerned. To produce a tone
with variations in it is easy enough, and that is what is usually
given us instead of the perfectly even tone, reminding us of a
straight line.

In the swell, as the name suggests, the tone should rise gradually in
volume or loudness, and as gradually decline. If this can be done
readily, and continued for several seconds, it will be easy to produce
other effects, as the sudden swell, but such effects should come
after, not before, the slower ones. A critical observer soon realizes
the defects of modern technique when he listens to a singer's tones
when attempting slow effects, as in a softly sustained melody. Only
the well-trained vocalist can hope to sing such a melody, especially
if long sustained, in a way to meet the demands of an exacting ear and
advanced musical taste. It will be apparent that the swell is the
basis of shading, a quality that is so highly appreciated in this
refined age. He who can manage the swell perfectly has the secret of
this effect in his possession as have none others.

Although we have referred more to the singer than to the speaker, in
this chapter, it is to be understood that these and all other
exercises suggested are of great value in forming the voice for public
speaking. It is not so important, it must be admitted, for the speaker
as for the singer that his tones be musically perfect, as he relies
more on ideas than on tones, still, with every idea employed by the
public speaker there is the inseparable feeling, or "feeling-tone;" so
that the speaker, as well as the singer, is to some extent dependent
on tone painting--indeed, must be, if he will be no mere man of wood,
a "dry stick," to some extent, in spite of the use of appropriate
language, gestures, etc. There are many avenues to the heart, and that
by tones cannot with impunity be neglected by the speaker, though for
his purpose the singing of tones need occupy only weeks or months,
while for singers, in the case of all who would attain to a high
degree of excellence, it must extend over years.


Certain expressions are in common use by teachers and singers, such as
"to direct the breath forward," "forward production," "backward
production," etc. No doubt such terms may serve a practical purpose,
though they are often used with lamentable vagueness, but it must be
understood that they do not answer to any clearly demonstrated
physiological principles. There is, for example, no clear evidence
that the breath can be directed toward the hard palate in the
neighborhood of the teeth, as the drawings sometimes published would

It has already been many times urged that when breathing is
satisfactory, breath does not escape to any considerable extent into
the mouth cavity, but that the expiratory blast is used to set the air
of the resonance-chambers into vibration. The changes that must be
made in these cavities, to lead to certain effects, are accompanied by
characteristic sensations, and these, and not the direction of the
breath, are largely responsible for the ideas on which the above
expressions rest.

As before shown, the soft palate is constantly being used more or
less, and when it and the tongue unite in action so as to cut off the
mouth cavity, or, more strictly, the anterior portion of it, from the
nasal chambers, a very pronounced modification in the tone results,
and, of necessity, such actual escape of breath as occurs takes place
through the nose. In reality, there is a special modification of the
shape of the resonance-chambers for every tone produced, and
especially when the color or quality is changed, as well as the pitch.
There is, therefore, not only "forward" and "backward" but also middle
production, though, in reality, these terms at best but imperfectly
describe, even for practical purposes, what happens.

It is to be feared that with some teachers of both singing and
speaking "forward production" has become a sort of panacea for all
vocal ills; but it is not, and just the reverse teaching is required
in certain cases. If a voice be brilliant, yet hard, it will be
improved by a more backward production, judiciously employed, and in
this way the French language is often to be recommended to such
singers, as it favors this backward production, with such use of the
nasal resonance as mellows the tones. The tenor who has not learned
the use of the nasal resonance, to give richness to the tones of his
middle and upper range, has missed a valuable principle. On the other
hand, for voices that are too soft, lack brightness, and fail in
carrying-power, a more forward production will often improve the
quality of the voice greatly. But a little consideration must convince
the student that if he is to be master of his voice-production
throughout, if he is to produce tones of every shade of quality, he
must be able to shift that voice about in every quarter as occasion
demands; in other words, _all the changes possible in the
resonance-chambers must be at his command_. Such is the case in the
very greatest singers of both sexes; and, of course, this applies
equally, if not still more, to speakers.

When the voice-producer has learned to intonate surely, when the voice
is "placed," and the secrets of the registers are known to him, he
will do well to experiment a little, cautiously, with his own
resonance-chambers, so as to widen his practical knowledge of the
principles underlying the modification of tones. Why should the
student of the voice remain a mere imitator, when the one who works in
any other direction is, or should be, encouraged to be an original
investigator? The inability of students to judge of either the grounds
for or the value of the exercises and methods recommended to them by
their teachers seems to the author to indicate a regrettable state of
things, which teachers of every form of vocal culture should endeavor
to remedy. Some teachers do not use the terms "backward" and
"forward," but "darkening" and "brightening" the voice; and, of
course, the result of a certain use of the tongue and soft palate is
to darken or veil the quality of the voice. But the attentive reader
will scarcely mistake the author's meaning in the above and other
references to this subject.

It is scarcely necessary to point out that in what has been said no
encouragement is intended to be given to the nasal twang, or any thing
resembling it--and it is easy to so use the nasal resonance that it
becomes a defect; but the value of a judicious use of the nose in
singing and speaking is, we are convinced, not as well known in vocal
teaching as it deserves to be.


The relation of vowels and consonants to singing and speaking.
Intonation should be by vowels only, at first. Consonants are a
necessary evil in singing, but all-important in the formation of
words--_i.e._, in imparting ideas.

Every language has its own special merits and defects for the purposes
of song and speech. That language which abounds in vowels is the best
adapted for vocal exercises, etc.

It is a cardinal error to begin a course in speaking and especially
singing with exercises based on words. Vowel sounds should be
exclusively employed at first. In the formation of vowels and
consonants the resonance-chambers are especially involved.

The tongue, soft palate, and lips are the most movable parts, and so
have the largest share in giving color and meaning to sounds--_i.e._,
they are the organs most important in the formation of the elements of

The "open mouth" should mean open mouth cavity and duly separated

It is important that there be control of all parts of the
resonance-chambers, and always in relation to other parts of the vocal



The subject treated in this chapter may be made dry enough; but if the
student will, while reading the descriptions given, endeavor to form
the sounds described, observing at the same time his own
resonance-chambers (mouth parts) carefully in a hand-glass, and then
follow up the applications made, the reader's experience will be, in
all probability, like the author's: the more the subject is studied
the more interesting does it become, especially if one experiments
with his own resonance apparatus.

Vowels and consonants are the elements of syllables, and words are
composed of the latter. However pure a vowel is, it is accompanied in
its utterance by some noise; a consonant, by relatively a great deal
of noise.

A _noise_, in distinction to a musical tone, is characterized by
irregularity as regards the vibrations that reach the ear, while in
the case of a tone a definite number of vibrations strikes against the
drum-head of the ear within a given time; so that so far as syllables
and words, even vowels, are concerned, we are not dealing with pure

For the formation of each vowel a definite form of the
resonance-chambers is essential. In uttering, either for the purposes
of speech or song, the vowel _u_ (_oo_), the mouth cavity has the form
of a large flask such as chemists use for their manipulations, but the
neck in this case is short. The whole resonance cavity is elongated,
and the lips are protruded; the larynx is depressed, and the root of
the tongue and the fauces (folds from the soft palate, usually spoken
of as the "pillars of the fauces") approach. The pitch of this vowel
is very low.

[Illustration: FIG. 56 (Beaunis). Shows the position of parts in
sounding the vowel _a_. By comparing this illustration with those
following, the relatively greater size of the cavity of the mouth in
this case will be evident. The reader is recommended to at once test
the correctness of these representations by sounding the vowels, and
observing the parts of his own vocal mechanism with a hand-mirror.]

In _[=o]_ the lips are nearer to the teeth, and the neck of the flask
is shorter and wider; the larynx is somewhat more elevated than in the
last case, and the pitch of the sound is higher.

When sounding _a_ (as in _father_) the mouth cavity has the shape of
a funnel, wide in front; the tongue lies rather flat on the floor of
the mouth, the lips are wide apart, and the soft palate is somewhat

In _[=a]_ (as in _fate_) there is some modification of the last, the
tongue and larynx being more raised. The pitch of this vowel is higher
than is that of the more open _a_.

In the case of _[=e]_ (as in _me_) the flask is relatively small, and
the neck is long and narrow, the larynx much raised, the lips drawn
back against the teeth, and the tongue greatly elevated, so as to form
the narrow neck of the flask. The pitch of this vowel is high.

[Illustration: FIG. 57 (Beaunis). Shows the relative position of parts
in sounding _I_. In sounding _E_ the position is a good deal like that
for _I_.]

When sounding _[=i]_ (as in _mine_) the cavity of the mouth behind
resembles a small-bellied flask with a long, narrow neck, the larynx
is at its highest, and the lips assume a position much as in the case
of _[=e]_; between the hard palate and the back of the tongue there is
only a narrow passage--a mere furrow. The pitch of this vowel is also

It is thus seen that every vowel has its characteristic quality and
pitch, the order as regards the latter being from below upward, _u_,
_o_, _a_, _[=a]_, _e_, _i_.

That the mouth cavity really can act as a resonance-chamber can be
easily demonstrated by holding a small vibrating tuning-fork before
the open mouth, and varying the shape and size of the cavity till the
sound of the fork is observed to be suddenly increased in volume. The
cavity then is a resonance-chamber for the fork, and thus intensifies
its sound; in other words, the air in the mouth cavity vibrates in
harmony with the tuning-fork.

To demonstrate in a simple manner that each vowel has its own pitch,
the mouth cavity is put into the form usual in sounding the vowel, and
the finger is filliped against the cheek, when a tone answering in
pitch to that of the vowel in question results. The demonstration is
easier with the lower-pitched, broader vowels, but the correctness of
the order of the pitch mentioned above can thus be shown to be

Some very important principles for the speaker and singer hinge upon
the above-mentioned facts. It follows, for example, that it is
impossible to give a vowel its _perfect_ sound in any but one
position of the mouth parts, so that for a singer to utter a word
containing the vowel _[=u]_ (_oo_) at a high pitch is a practical
impossibility. The listener may know what syllable is meant, and
overlook the defect either from habit or from an uncritical attitude,
but composers of vocal music should bear such facts in mind and not
impose impossibilities on singers. At the same time, the vocalist, in
order to satisfy a modern audience, is obliged to sound every word and
every syllable as correctly as possible, even if the tone suffer
somewhat thereby. It is wonderful how fully the best poets have, with
the insight of genius, adapted their words (vowels) to the ideas they
wish to convey, and had all composers of vocal music done the same,
the path of the singer would not have been strewn with so many
thorns. The difficulties in the case of the speaker are similar, but
less marked, as his range is so much more limited as regards pitch.

[Illustration: FIG. 58 (Beaunis). Shows the relative position of the
parts in sounding _OU_.]

This subject has also most important bearings on the learning of
languages. One is born with tendencies toward certain mouth positions,
etc., and from infancy he is constantly using the resonance-chambers
in certain characteristic ways. In the course of years these
positions, etc., become such fixed habits that it is difficult to
change them, so that for this as well as many other reasons the
learning of languages by persons beyond a certain age is a difficult
matter. But to all students of a foreign tongue it is really essential
to explain the physical mechanism by which the various sounds are
made. The author has known an adult to struggle for months with French
and German pronunciation, and get into a state of discouragement,
fearing that he never would be able to learn the languages in which he
wished to speak and sing, when a few moments spent in explaining just
what we have written above for vowels, and what we have earlier and
shall now more fully set forth in this chapter as regards consonants,
have been followed by the lifting of the cloud from the mind and of a
load of heaviness from the heart.

The learner should (1) hear the sound (elemental--a vowel, say) from
the lips of the teacher, and actually perceive just what that sound
is--_i.e._, he must really hear it; (2) observe the shape of the
resonance-chambers; (3) try to produce the same shape of his own, and
under the guidance of his ear and his eye (watching the mouth of the
teacher) so utter the sound correctly. This sound should be fixed in
the mind, and the ear trained by comparing it with other sounds, as
the wise teacher will do, and require imitations. Any language can be
pronounced correctly in a short time, if this method be followed. It
is, indeed, the only one that rests on science and common sense. The
student when away from the teacher, after he has once learned to form
the vowels correctly, should practise with a hand-glass before him for
some time, at least.

The learning of a new language is the acquiring of a new mouth, or, at
all events, entirely new methods of using the old one. In reality,
however, this is not so fully the case as it at first seems. In all
the languages one wishes to acquire, the same vowels occur, and for
the learner it is often a question of lower or higher pitch, or
greater or less breadth, though all this involves the formation of new
habits and the fighting of old ones, and often in the case of the
adult the struggle is a long-continued and severe one. Some nations
speak at a lower pitch than others, and if a foreigner enunciate ever
so well, yet at the pitch of his own and not that of the new language,
his utterance may seem foreign. The Germans speak at a much lower
pitch than Americans, and their tongue, even when grammatically spoken
by the latter, is apt to have a sort of foreign flavor. It slightly
disturbs the listener, who is not accustomed to hear his mother-tongue
transposed into another key, so to speak.

We have known a learner to derive great benefit from having it pointed
out to him that certain of his vowel sounds would at once cease to be
incorrect if their pitch were altered. Of course, in doing this, there
were at once many changes made in the resonance-chambers, in order to
get the changed pitch. Pitch, accent, and duration of the sound throw
much light on the subject of dialect, as a little analysis of Irish or
Scotch will show.

Consonants are, as we have already said, noisy nuisances for the
singer, but indispensable for word-formation, and so for human
intercourse. Each has also its own pitch, and investigators have come
to a measurable degree of agreement on this subject.

To illustrate: Madame Seiler found that _r_ and _s_ are separated from
each other by an interval of many octaves: [Illustration: C], _r_;
[Illustration: b-flat'''], _s_. The latter, _s_, cannot be sounded
without more or less of a hissing sound, suggesting escape of air,
which is very unpleasant to the ear, and, unfortunately, these hissing
sounds are very common in English, so that the speaker or singer is
called upon to use all his art to overcome this disagreeable effect.
This is also prominent in _whispering_--_i.e._, the escape of breath,
with its corresponding effect on the ear. Whispering is effected
chiefly, if not solely, by the resonance-chambers, the vocal bands
taking only the slightest part, if any at all.

The physiologist Brücke, treating of the utterance of consonants,
considered that they were formed by the more or less complete closure
of certain doors in the course of the outgoing blast of air, and we
have already referred to a consonant as an unpleasant interrupter,
musically considered. Perhaps we should be disposed to compare them to
the people that talk during the performance at a concert, did we not
wish to avoid bringing such useful members of the speech community
into undeserved disrepute.

Consonants, like vowels, have their own mouth positions. This follows
from their having pitch, but, in addition, they require the use of the
tongue, lips, etc., in a special way. The principal articulation
positions are the following: (1) Between the lips; (2) between the
tongue and the hard palate; (3) between the tongue and the soft
palate; (4) between the vocal bands.

To indicate this, certain terms have been employed, and as they are in
common use by those who treat of this subject, it will be well to
explain them.

_Explosives_ are consonants in uttering which there is complete
closure with a sudden opening of the resonance-chambers in front, as
in _b_ and _p_.

[Illustration: FIG. 59 (Beaunis). Representation of the relative
position of the parts and the resulting shape of the sounding chamber
when the consonants indicated are formed vocally. Verification of the
truthfulness of the illustrations will prove profitable.]

_Vibratives_ call for an almost complete closure of the door and a
vibration of its margin, as in _r_.

_Aspirates_ partly close the opening, which is at once suddenly opened
again, as in _f_, _v_, etc.

_Resonants_ close the mouth, so the sound must find its way out
through the nose, as in _m_, _n_, _ng_.

The above may be put in tabular form as follows:

Positions.     Explosives.   Aspirates.          Vibrates.     Resonants.

1              _b, p_        _f, v, w_                         _m_
2              _t, d_        _s, z, l, sch, th_                _n_
3              _k, g_        _j, ch_             Palatal _r_   _ng_
4                            _h_

Of course the above is only one of many possible classifications, and
expresses only a part of the whole truth, for the formation of a
single consonant is a very complicated process, the exact nature of
which can only be very imperfectly analyzed and expressed in words.

In complexity of action the resonance-chambers are wonderful beyond
any instrument devised by man, and the more one studies the subject,
the greater the wonder becomes at the amount and complexity of the
work done in a single day's speaking. It is also easy to understand
how difficult it is to attain to absolutely perfect results. To enable
one's fellow-creatures to understand him in even his mother-tongue
involves an amount of effort and energy, a complexity and facility in
function, that can only be reached after months of practice in
infancy; but to attain to that degree of perfection that makes an
artist in speaking, how much greater is the expenditure in vital
capital! Is not the result when attained worth the best efforts of the
most talented individual?



The reader will now be prepared to consider the answer to be given to
the question as to the _vowels_ most suitable for practice in
intonation. Plainly, _a_ (_ah_) puts the resonance-chambers into the
easiest and best position to form a good pure tone. The pitch of the
vowel is intermediate--not very low and not high in the scale. For the
higher tones, evidently, _[=a]_, _e_, and _i_ are better than _a_
(_ah_), much less _o_ and _u_, which are quite out of the question,
comparatively speaking.

However, as music must be sung with vowels in every position, it is
plainly necessary to learn to sound all the vowels well throughout the
scale. In fact, one might wisely, after preliminary practice on _a_,
begin a scale below with _u_, then go on to _o_, _a_, _[=a]_, _e_, and

Some have recommended that the vocalist begin his scale practices with
_a_, and when the higher middle tones are reached, that he use _[=a]_,
and for head tones _[=a]_ and _e_, an advice which is obviously sound,
as it is based on scientific principles.

Sounds that are very expressive in public utterance, whether in speech
or song, are _l_ and especially _r_. In ordinary speech most persons
use only the guttural _r_, in the formation of which the soft palate
takes a prominent part; but for the speaker and the singer the lingual
_r_ is often much more effective. It is produced by the vibration of
the tip of the tongue, and can only be formed well, in most cases,
after long-continued and persevering practice.

Certain consonants tend to nasality. These are _m_, _n_, _ng_, and of
these all persons who are disposed to this production to the point of
excess must especially beware. These letters, with such people, should
be given a rapid and forward production, while singers with hard and
metallic voices will do well to sing syllables beginning with these
consonants, such as _maw_, _naw_, _ang_, _eng_, etc.

According to the teachings of physics, the quality of a tone is
determined largely by the number and variety of the _overtones_
accompanying the fundamental tone. Practically all musical tones,
whether vocal or instrumental, are made up of the ground tone and
certain others less loud and prominent, and the latter are the
overtones. These may be very numerous, and some are favorable and
others unfavorable to excellence in quality. It has been thought, as
the result of scientific investigation, that when the first octave of
the fundamental tone and its fifth interval are prominent, the voice
is soft, and with the fifth and seventh well in evidence, the voice is
bright and clear.

It might be said that the voice-user should endeavor to keep out of
his voice certain overtones, especially those which are not within
the range of our modern harmonies. A harsh voice is one in which such
unharmonic intervals preponderate.

The most beautiful quality of tone is produced by keeping intensity
within limits, and by a sudden, elastic attack, a point on which we
dwelt at some length before; but this only emphasizes the importance
of all who use the voice employing, not only when beginners, but
throughout their career, exercises with vowels alone. Only in this way
will the association between the hearing of pure tones and their
production be established.

Such exercises are also necessary to give good carrying power to the
voice. If more attention were given to this point, and less to the
production of mere volume of sound, it would be well for the best
musical art. Naturally, the higher the pitch of tones, within certain
limits, the greater their carrying power, and the reverse, of course,
with the lower tones; so that it is very important that the speaker
and singer use all reasonable means to produce these lower tones well,
else they are muffled, and the words associated with them are not
heard. This principle should be borne in mind especially by tenors and
light sopranos, in whom the lower tones are not usually the best, or
the easiest to produce; so that a good attack and careful and neat
syllable-formation, with all attention to both vowels and consonants,
should be especially studied, and, above all, in tones below about G
on the treble clef. The tendency to close the mouth, especially in a
descending scale, below this point, and to confound blurring with soft
(_piano_) singing, is common. A _piano_ tone should be formed with
especial care as to attack, open mouth, etc., and all words associated
with the duller, lower-pitched vowels be spoken with the greatest
distinctness, both in singing and speaking. At the same time, the
barytone and contralto should not boast themselves over the tenor or
soprano, if they are more successful with lower tones and the words
associated with them, for the latter class of singers can often revel
like birds in regions not approachable by the deeper-voiced singers.
Each in its own order!

It follows that if the organs of speech are used so as to produce
vowels, consonants, and their combinations, with unusual and, for
practical purposes, unnecessary distinctness, the actual performance,
as demanded by a critical ear, will be easier. One that can run two
hundred yards as readily as another can one hundred is in a better
position for the shorter sprint than the other man; hence the wisdom
of the singer and speaker practising first with unusual and indeed
unnecessary distinctness, so far as the listener is concerned, in
order that he may satisfy even the critical with _ease_--that
all-important principle in art.

All persons must, of necessity, speak in some register, and even an
ear but little cultivated can recognize that the pitch and quality of
the tones of adult males, adult females, and children differ greatly
from each other.

Madame Seiler has thus expressed herself on this subject:

"Women use mostly tones of the second chest and first falsetto
registers, sometimes also those of the first chest register. Men speak
an octave lower than women, and use mostly the upper half of the chest
register. In public speaking, as well as on the stage, the second
chest register is used by men, and sometimes also the lowest tones of
the voice. The second falsetto and head registers are used only by
little children."

It will be remembered that Madame Seiler's "second chest" corresponds
to the upper chest tones of some writers, and that "falsetto" is
equivalent to "middle," as generally employed.

Ordinary speech is economical, and a range of very few tones, usually
not more than two to four intervals of the scale, suffices, but on the
stage, and by some of our best public speakers, twice this range may
be exceeded. In nature, the cat, under the excitement of a heated
interview with a fellow-vocalist, may pass through an entire octave.


The shape of the resonance-chambers varies in the formation of vowels
and consonants, which may be classified accordingly, or according to
their pitch.

Practical implications for singing and speaking, the learning of
foreign languages, the study of dialects, etc.

The importance of special attention to those words containing the
low-pitched and dark vowels, especially when low in the scale, and
when sung _piano_.

Overtones, and their bearing on the quality of the voice.

The carrying power of the voice, determined by the method of its
production, is more important than its volume.

The value of practice with the use of a mirror, and of the formation
of the sounds in practice with a distinctness in excess of the actual
needs of the listener. Ease is essential to art.



So important are the ingoing sensory messages (impulses) that
originate in the ear, as a guide not only in the appreciation of
musical sounds but in those movements on which all musical execution,
all vocal effects, whether of song or speech, depend, that we think
the reader will welcome a chapter on the ear, even though it be no
part of the vocal apparatus proper.

The essential mechanism used by Nature to give us the sensation of
sound consists of (1) a complicated form of nerve-ending; (2) an
auditory nerve leading from, and a continuation, in a certain sense,
of, the latter; (3) nerve tracts and hearing centres in the brain. The
whole constitutes a very complicated mechanism, but the principles on
which it is constructed may be reduced to a few. Mechanical or
physical principles, as well as physiological ones, are involved.

The entire apparatus has for its purpose the conversion of the
vibrations of the air into the vibrations of a fluid, which thus
stimulates the end-organ, and brings about those changes in the nerve
which result in corresponding changes in the brain, that are
associated, in some way we cannot explain, to that state of
consciousness we term hearing. Complicated as is the auditory
apparatus, it can be readily enough comprehended, if the reader
accompany the perusal of the text by an examination of the figures

[Illustration: FIG. 60. (Beaunis). In this illustration parts are
exposed to view by the removal of others. The whole of the inner ear
lies within bone, which in this figure is cut away. The drum-head
(membrana tympani); the Eustachian tube, extending from the back of
the throat, and opening into the middle ear; the semicircular canals
(which are not concerned with hearing, but with the maintenance of
equilibrium); the cochlea, (snail-shell), which contains the various
parts most essential to hearing, as the "hair-cells," the terminals of
the auditory nerve, the latter nerve itself, and several other
parts--are well shown. Should the Eustachian tube be closed owing to
swelling of its lining mucous membrane, a certain amount of temporary
deafness may result, because, the air within the middle ear (drum)
being absorbed, and fresh air not being admitted, the outer air
presses against the drum-head uncounteracted, and renders the
conducting mechanism too rigid.]

Anatomists speak of (1) an outer or external ear, (2) a middle ear,
drum, or tympanum, and (3) an inner ear, or labyrinth.

[Illustration: FIG. 61 (Beaunis). Diagrammatic representation of the
auditory apparatus. The external, middle, and internal ear are
separated by dotted lines. A, the external; B, the middle; C, the
internal ear; 1, auricle; 2, external auditory meatus; 3, tympanum
(middle ear), with its chain of bones, 7, 8, 9. Into it opens 5,
Eustachian tube, leading from back of throat; 4, membrana tympani or
drum-head, closing the middle ear off from the external ear. The most
important part of the inner ear is 13, the cochlear canal, in which
the "hair-cells" are found, around which latter the final branches of
the auditory nerve end. Above it is the scala vestibuli and below it
the scala tympani, passages filled with fluid. The openings to these
canals are closed with membrane. Attached to the membrane of the oval
opening is the stapes (stirrup). It is thus seen that vibrations
communicated to the chain of bones from the tympanic membrane are
passed on to the fluid filling the passages (scalæ) of the cochlea,
and thus affect the hair-cells, and so the nerve of hearing, and
through it the brain. The parts indicated by 12 and 16 are important
in the maintenance of equilibrium, but are not concerned in hearing.]

The purpose of the _outer ear_ is to collect the air vibrations and
convey them to the middle ear, which passes them on to the inner ear,
where they produce the vibrations in the fluid therein contained and
which affect the end-organ and nerve-endings, and thus initiate the
essential physiological processes in the nerve of hearing. It follows
that we have an instance of the conversion of one kind of vibrations,
those of the air, into another kind, those of fluid, which latter
furnish a sufficiently delicate stimulus or excitation of the fine
hair-like extensions (_processes_) of the cells known as
_hair-cells_, about which the nerves in their final smallest branches
wrap themselves.

[Illustration: FIG. 62 (Beaunis). Two of the bones of the ear (the
malleus or hammer and the incus or anvil) enlarged. These small
ear-bones have joints like larger ones. The line of conveyance of
vibrations is indicated by B A.]

When we ourselves hear sounds when under water, we are affected
directly by the vibrations of that water; in this case we, in our
whole body, represent the hair-cells which are stimulated by the fluid
(_endolymph_) which surrounds them.

[Illustration: FIG. 63 (Beaunis). The complete chain of bones. The
arrows indicate in a general way the direction of the line of
transmission of vibrations from the tympanic membrane on to the fluid
within the passages of the inner ear.]

The external ear, well developed in many of the lower animals, being
often highly movable, is practically immovable in man, and is wholly
wanting in some animals, as the frog. The circular plate one sees
behind the eye of the frog is the drum-head of the middle ear.

From the _drum-head_, or _tympanic membrane_, the vibrations, which
are now those of a solid, are communicated by a series of very small
bones, most beautifully linked together by perfect joints, to another
membrane, which closes a small hole in the outer wall of the inner

The _middle ear_, it will be seen, is a drum with its stretched
membrane like any other drum, and it too has a communication with the
exterior air through a tube, the _Eustachian tube_, which leads from
the drum into the back part of the throat. When one has a cold, the
mucous membrane which lines this tube may become swollen or even
catarrhal, and be so closed that no air can enter from the throat; the
air already within the drum being absorbed, the outer air presses
unduly against the drum-head, with the result that the whole
conducting apparatus is put more or less out of condition, and a
certain degree of deafness naturally results. The tension of the
drum-head is regulated by a muscle attached to the bone which is
connected with the inner part of this membrane.

It is now easy to understand how any unfavorable condition of the
throat may affect the ear, or that of the ear influence the throat.

In the hearing mechanism of man, the _inner ear_, or _labyrinth_, well
so named because of its complexity, is really situated in the inner
hardest portion of the "temporal" bone. It consists of a membrane and
a bony portion, the former containing the essential mechanism of
hearing, the latter being chiefly protective to it. The membranous
portion consists of a series of canals communicating with some
similarly membranous sacs, the whole being surrounded by and filled
with fluid. These latter communicate with an extension termed the
_cochlea_, which contains a central canal in which that collection of
cells is found which constitutes the _end-organ_, among them the
hair-cells, about which the nerve ends.

This end-organ in the cochlea may be compared very fitly to the
telephone which receives the message, and that portion of the brain
where the auditory tract ends, to the telephone at the distant end of
the path, the listener there representing consciousness. The auditory
path within the brain is long and complicated, there being, in fact,
many way-stations through which the message passes before it reaches
the final one.

The auditory nerve proceeds first to the lowest or hindermost portion
of the brain, known as the _bulb_, or _medulla oblongata_; thence a
continuation of the nerve tract passes forward to a central region,
the _posterior corpora quadrigemina_, then, by a new relay of
nerve-fibres, to the highest and most important part of the brain,
that most closely associated with consciousness, the _cortex of the
temporal lobe_, where there is situated the most important of all the
centres of hearing.

It will be apparent, on consideration, that "hearing" is a very
elaborate result, the outcome of many physiological processes
(initiated by physical ones), the initial and final being better
understood than the intermediate ones.

One asks, with natural curiosity and interest, "Is the auditory
apparatus of the highly endowed musician different from and superior
to that of the individual with little talent for music?"

It is not easy to give a short and definite answer to this question.
No special examinations of the essential parts of the ears of eminent
musicians have been made, so far as we are aware, and as yet few of
the brains of this class of men. It is, however, practically certain
that there is a brain development peculiar to the born musician, and
that this, whatever else it may be, involves a special excellence of
the auditory path within the brain, rather than any unusual
development of the essential parts of the ear. The individual who is a
musical prodigy has, without question, _a more perfect connection_
established between his auditory apparatus, in the widest sense of the
word, and those muscular mechanisms employed in the execution of
music, whether vocal or instrumental, than is the case with the
average man. Usually, with this goes a wide series of brain
associations or connections, we may presume, between the auditory
tracts and other regions, for without this it is difficult to explain
temperament and artistic perception. That they are not necessarily
associated, however, is clear from the fact that some have a high
degree of executive ability and little real artistic development.

It must never be forgotten, however, that whatever else music may be,
it is essentially and primarily a sensuous experience. The one who
enjoys music must feel its sensuous charm, and the artist who
furnishes that which is enjoyed addresses himself primarily to our
auditory mechanism. Executing music is hearing music, and enjoying
music is hearing music, though both may involve much more than this,
and herein individuals must differ greatly, owing to education, past
experience, etc.; but all who have the power to really appreciate
music must be capable of the sensuous enjoyment of tones. In this all
everywhere find something in common; often that which we enjoy is of
the most varied nature.

One thing is certain: those connections between the hearing and the
motor processes we term singing or playing should be made early in
life, if they are to reach that degree of facility and general
excellence essential to success. We think there is good reason to
begin voice-production early, as well as the practice of an
instrument, though we do not maintain that the argument is as strong
in the one case as in the other.

That the "ear for music" may be well developed, in the sense that one
may know perfectly what is correct in time and tune, without the power
to execute well, there can be no doubt, as witness the case of many
composers, but the reverse does not hold. There can be no doubt that
_the nervous impulses that pass from the ear to the brain are of all
sensory messages the most important guides for the outgoing ones that
determine the necessary movements_.

The author would advise every serious student of music to believe in
the unlimited capacity of his own ear for improvement. The lack of
"ear" of many people is due largely, if not solely, to inattention.
Indeed, an excess of temperament may be a positive hindrance to
musical development, both as regards appreciation and execution, for
it may be accompanied by inattentive listening and consequent
inadequate hearing. On the other hand, no one should, because he has a
good faculty for time and tune and the memorizing of airs, conclude
that he is an artist. The one faculty may exist altogether apart from
the capacity for the highest art. It is a matter of history that
several vocalists now before the public, and who rank in the highest
class of musical artists, displayed at one period of their career a
lack of perception as to pitch or rhythm that was, to say the least,
very discouraging, and which, but for their force of character, would
have kept them from ever being eminent.

If one have neither ear, temperament, nor artistic perception, he
should not waste his energies on musical study--at least, not extended
efforts; but if he have the two last, and but a moderate ear, he will
do well to try to improve the lower for the sake of the higher

In children the difficulty often is due wholly to inattention.

Those who would cultivate the speaking voice are frequently
discouraged from lack of "ear," and when urged to follow such
exercises as have been recommended in this work, complain that they
have not the "ear" to do so. To such the author would say, "Persevere;
believe in your ear; learn to listen--_i.e._, to attend to sounds
having musical qualities."

Besides, it must not be forgotten that in addition to the
"ear"--_i.e._, the ability to appreciate relative pitch, tune, and
rhythm--there is also the entirely distinct faculty that appreciates
the _quality_ of sounds. The latter is really more important for the
speaker, who can succeed with a very moderate development of the
faculty for time and tune, but to whom the power to appreciate the
_quality_ of sounds is essential.

No doubt the first and fundamental qualities in the make-up of a
musician are the capacities to appreciate pitch and rhythm, but no
result worthy the term "artistic" can be produced in which attention
is not given to the quality of sounds, hence the technical and
artistic should be developed together. The lack of attention on the
part of a certain class of vocal teachers to the quality of the tones
produced is one of the special defects in the instruction of the day.

In the early weeks of vocal training, when the student should intone
only before his teacher, the former need not be left without musical
culture, and it is for each teacher to give the pupil that training,
at this time, which will forestall disgust and impatience at the
apparent slowness of his progress. At this time much can be done to
cultivate the ear in all its various powers.

And the author would like to put in a plea for the development of the
_appreciation of music_. Whatever difference of opinion there may be
as to choral singing, singing in schools, etc., there can be no
question that time spent in developing the appreciation of musical art
is well spent, and makes for the development and provides for the
innocent and elevating sources of enjoyment of a people. If some of
the time spent in bad piano-playing were devoted to the development of
the power to appreciate and delight in really good music, including
the sweet sounds of speech and song, the world would thereby be
greatly the gainer.

The author would impress on all students of music, and of the voice as
used in both singing and speaking, the paramount importance of
learning early to listen most attentively to others when executing
music; and, above all, to listen with the greatest care to themselves,
and never to accept any musical tone that does not fully satisfy the
ear. When one considers how much harshness is passed as singing or
speaking, by the student, even by those who pose as public singers and
speakers, one must often wonder where they keep their ears. As a
matter of fact, the ideal listeners are rare, and the critical ear,
like a sentinel on guard, is among students, really seldom to be met
with, if one extend the term "listening" to mean giving attention
equally and in the most critical way, not only to pitch and rhythm,
but also to the quality of sounds, the effects of pauses, shading,
etc., all of which are perceived through the ear.

If such listening requires, as it does, the closest attention, it must
give rise to fatigue, so that it is clear that the lengthy practices
some undertake are against the plainest laws of physiology and
psychology, even if the hearing processes alone be considered; but as
we have before shown, there are other reasons why such long-continued
exercises as some attempt are in every way unwise; in fact, in the
author's opinion, they are in the musical world a great evil under the


Hearing is finally a psychological or mental condition, a state of
consciousness, but is always associated with certain physiological
processes, which are initiated by a physical stimulus in the form of
waves in a fluid surrounding the hair-cells of the auditory end-organ;
which waves may again be traced to the movements of the bones of the
middle ear, caused by the swinging to and fro of the drum-head, owing
to vibrations of the air produced by a sounding body.

The ear is anatomically divisible into external, middle (tympanum or
drum), and internal (labyrinth). The outer ear collects the
vibrations, the middle ear conducts them, and the internal converts
them into a special physiological condition of the hair-cells and the
auditory nerve. This condition is communicated to the other links in
the anatomical hearing chain, until the highest part of the brain, or
cortex, is reached. Hearing, from the physiological point of view, is
the outcome of a series of processes having their development in a
corresponding series of centres, or collections of nerve-cells.

The perceptions associated with the ear, in the mind of the musician,
are those of the pitch, rhythm (and time), and quality of tones. The
loudness of a tone is, of course, recognized by the ear also, but this
is hardly a musical quality proper. In reality, like all that belongs
to hearing, these perceptions are the result of a series of
physiological processes, in which the ear takes an important but not
the sole or even the chief part, which is to be referred to the brain.

It is practically important to recognize that these various qualities
are distinct perceptions, and that the "ear" for relative pitch may
exist well developed and the color, clang, or quality of a tone be
imperfectly recognized, and the reverse.

The most comprehensive ear-training involves attention to each of the
above characters of tones, and then uniting them in a musically
perfect result. Lack of "ear" is often simply want of attention to the
characters of sounds.

The auditory messages are the most important of all the nervous
impulses that reach the brain, for the musician, whether appreciation
or execution be considered. They are the chief guides for the outgoing
nervous impulses to the muscles.

The good executant must, above all, be a good listener.



Hygiene deals with the laws by the observance of which health is to be
maintained and disease prevented; but as such laws must be based on
physiological principles, hygiene follows from physiology.
Accordingly, throughout this work our method has been to point out the
correct way as soon as the physiological principle has been laid down,
so that the reason for the recommendation made would be obvious.
However, it may be well if now some of the more important tendencies,
errors, bad habits, and dangers to be guarded against by the singer
and speaker be pointed out afresh, briefly, with some additional
observations that experience has shown to be of practical importance.

Hygiene, for all persons, should, in the widest sense, refer to the
whole man, his body, intellect, feelings, and will, though the term
has usually been restricted to the preservation of bodily health. But,
fortunately, it is being more and more recognized that man is a whole,
and that one part of him cannot suffer without the others
participating, so we shall pursue the broader course, and consider the
general welfare of the voice-user as properly coming under

He, being a human being like his fellows, must, of course, observe the
same laws for the preservation of his general health as they, but just
because he comes before the public, his case is peculiar, and he must,
in addition, take special precautions to avoid every form of temporary
or permanent disability.

There is, of course, much in the life of a public speaker or singer
that conduces to health of body and mind, such as the vigorous use of
the breathing apparatus, the favorable effect of praise expressed in
one way and another, etc., but even with the most successful, all this
may be more than counter-balanced by other unfavorable factors. When
one considers the necessary travelling, often including night
journeys, the late hours, the concentrated efforts essential to
success, the uncertainty of the public taste, the rivalries,
jealousies, exhaustion, etc., often associated with a public career,
it must be clear that no one should embark upon it without counting
well the cost. For one with mediocre ability, imperfect training,
voice of very limited range, power, and quality, feeble will, an
imperfectly developed body, and indifferent health, to enter on a
public career is practically to court failure and to ensure
disappointment and unhappiness.

It is to be remembered that never was the world so exacting of the
artist, and never were there so many aspirants to popular favor, so
that the competition in the ranks of the actors and singers, at
least, is very keen. At the same time, there is room for a certain
class of persons--viz., those with good health, excellent physique,
first-rate ability, self-control, sound moral principles,
perseverance, industry, musical feeling, and artistic insight, with
vocal organs trained like the muscles of the athlete, and, in the case
of singers, sound musical knowledge and an exacting and reliable ear.

Considering that the actor, often the public speaker, and the singer
are constantly being put under excessive strain, it follows that (1)
such persons should begin with an unusually good physical
organization--others can scarcely hope to get into the first class,
even with the best abilities; and (2) because there is a tendency to
exhaustion of the body and mind through emotional and other
expenditure, the public voice-user must take precautions, on the one
hand, to prevent this, and, on the other, to make good his outlay by
special means. He needs more sleep and rest generally than others, and
he should counteract the influence of unhealthy conditions on the
stage or platform by some quiet hours in the open air, all the better
if with some congenial friend, sympathetic with his aims, yet
belonging, preferably perhaps, to another profession, and who will
speak of topics other than those that are ever recurring in the life
of an artist. The uninterrupted pursuit of one thing, without the mind
and spirit being fed from other springs, can be good for no human
being. The specialist who is only a specialist will never reach the
very highest point. The artist must seek sources of inspiration and
mental nutriment outside of his own line of thought, or he will suffer
professionally and in his own spirit.

The reader will by this time understand why the author considers that
for one who would be an artist to enter on his public career without
the fullest mental equipment and vocal training is an exceedingly
unwise course. Technique should be acquired before an aspirant to
success steps on a public stage or platform, and this is exactly what
is so seldom done in these days, and why we have so few singers,
actors, and public speakers of the highest rank. Many, very many, know
what they wish to express, and, in a sense, how to express it, but
they have neither the formed voice nor the control of that voice by
which their ideas are to be embodied. Let no one delude himself into
the belief that technique will be learned in public; such is rarely,
if ever, the case. Expression, style, etc., may come to the vocalist
or speaker all the more readily if he occasionally goes before the
public; but that such may be so, he must first have voice and
technique. It is because of the neglect of this training for the
acquirement of technique that so many naturally good voices are of
little practical use for the public, and this explains why the ranks
of the professions are crowded with inferior artists, if, indeed,
artists they may be called.

The _isolation_ of the dramatic and musical artist from his fellows
generally is a great evil. Much that society complains of in the
lives of artists would never exist but for this isolation, in spite of
the fact that the artistic temperament is so moody and so impulsive,
so little regardful of ordinary conventionalities. That it is so is
partly the fault of society. It is quite true that because of
journeying, rehearsals, etc., the travelling artist has little time to
meet the members of the community in private life; but this state of
things could be mitigated were society and the artists themselves
convinced that for any class of people to live in little hives, wholly
separated from their fellows, must be unfortunate for them and
society. Artists as men and women are practically unknown to the
world, though their false selves as represented by sensational
paragraphs in newspapers are only too familiar to us. It may truly be
said of the artist: "Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou
shalt not escape calumny." It is within the power of society to alter
this, and it should do so.

Why is it that actors and singers do not prepare themselves by as
prolonged and thorough a vocal training as in a past time?

Considering that there never was a period when there was the same
scope for art, never a time when the public was so eager to hear and
so able to pay for art, as now, never a period of such widespread
intelligence on all subjects, music included, the question is a very
pertinent one. We believe there are many factors underlying the
technical decadence we must regret. The orchestra has greatly
developed, choral singing is common in all countries, and the spirit
of the times has changed. So analytical, so refined is our age, that
singing sometimes becomes a sort of musical declamation, but,
unfortunately, without that power to declaim possessed by the actors
and often the opera-singers of a former period. A singer often
attempts now to make up by an expressive reading of a song, for
technical defects. We must all commend every evidence of
intellectuality in music, but this does not imply that we should
accept good intentions for execution--performance. Let us have every
possible development of orchestral music; let every village have, if
possible, its choral society, but let none enter it who have not been
trained vocally.

Out of the author's own experience he could a tale unfold of the evil
done to the vocal organs by those who have sung in choirs without
adequate vocal training. Choristers are tempted to reach high tones by
a process of their own, without any regard to registers, and with
corresponding effects on their throats, some of which imply also
lasting injury to the voice itself.

In choral singing there is the tendency to lean on certain singers who
are natural leaders, with the result that there is little independent
listening and individual culture, even if the singer could hear his
own voice well, which is not usually the case. The same objections and
others apply to class singing in schools, which does little for
music, and tends to make slovenly singers. If some of the time given
to school singing were taken up in illustrating why certain musical
selections are good, and others mere rubbish--in other words, in
forming the taste of the nation in the children--a valuable work would
be done; but school class singing, as commonly carried out, tends
rather to injure than develop voices and good musical taste.

We cannot honestly pass by the subject of Wagner's music and some of
its tendencies. Wagner was an intellectual giant among men, and his
works are amazingly grand, yet they unfortunately are, in a certain
sense, responsible for much bad singing and not a little injury to
fine voices.

First of all, Wagner's operas are, in their present form, too long. To
sing these compositions night after night is beyond human powers, even
in the case of those of the most perfect musical and technical
training. If they were divided into two, and one half sung on one
evening and the other on the next, it would be a gain for the public
and the artists. It is impossible for even the musically cultivated to
absorb and assimilate the whole of such an opera as "Siegfried" or
"Tristan and Isolde" in one evening, and it is too much to expect any
artist to sing them through without a rest.

Again, they call for such strong accents, such deep and strenuous
breathing, that the artist impersonating a hero or a god or goddess
is put to a degree of exertion that is too great for human powers when
continued for more than a very moderate period; besides, there is a
temptation to a wrong use of the larynx--a forcible _coup de glotte_,
or attack--that is exceedingly dangerous, and has injured many voices
and ruined others. The man or woman who would sing Wagner's greater
music dramas should, in addition to a strong physique, be master of a
wonderfully perfect technique. These operas should never be attempted
by very young singers of either sex, and especially not by very young
women. They are for the powerful, the mature, the perfectly trained,
the experienced.

Turning to some special faults, we would warn against the "scoop," the
excessive use of the _portamento_, or glide, so common a fault at the
present time, and the _vibrato_ and _tremolo_.

The two former are musical faults, so we pass them by without further
consideration. Otherwise is it with the last two faults; they both
result from a wrong use of the vocal organs. They are both due to some
unsteadiness and lack of control, and, unfortunately, when once
acquired, are very difficult to remedy. The unsteadiness may be almost
anywhere in the vocal organs, but is usually referable to the
respiratory apparatus or to the larynx.

A _vibrato_ is the milder form of the evil, and is encouraged, we
regret to say, by some teachers, while the _tremolo_ is due to an
extreme unsteadiness, and, so far as we are aware, is universally
condemned. It is about the worst fault any singer can have. It is
evident in some cases only when the vocalist sings _piano_, but mostly
in vigorous singing, and often arises from straining, disregard of
registers, etc. It may be due to the singer trying to control too
large a supply of air, or from bringing a blast to bear on the vocal
bands too strong for them. In every case there is lack of adjustment
between the vocal bands and the respiratory organs. The remedy must be
adapted to the case, but usually the singer must for a time give up
the use of the voice in _forte_ singing altogether, and gradually
again learn to control his vocal mechanism.

Associated sometimes with this fault is another, which, indeed, often
gives rise to the former--viz., "pumping," or attempting to vocalize
after the breath power is exhausted. One should always have enough air
in reserve to sing at least two tones more than what is required.

It will be observed that good singing and speaking are always
physiological--_i.e._, they depend on the observance of well-known
physiological principles; we wish we could add, principles clearly
recognized by singers and teachers generally. It is to those who do
that we would recommend the student of the vocal art to go at the
outset of his career, otherwise much time may be lost and possibly
much injury done. We distinguish, of course, between the teacher who
recognizes physiological principles only practically and the one who
does so consciously. The former may be an excellent and safe teacher,
though, we think, not so good, other things being equal, as one of the
latter type,--as yet somewhat rare.

At an earlier period we referred to the important matter of
classifying the voice. It often happens that one who is a tenor is
trained as a barytone, or a contralto as a soprano, and the reverse,
only to discover later that a mistake has been made. If it could
become the custom to have vocal consultations among teachers, as
medical ones among doctors, the author is convinced it would be well.
Often a patient is sent a long distance to consult a medical man, and
to return to his own physician for treatment based on the diagnosis
made. In these instances the doctor consulted is expected to write his
views privately to the patient's doctor, and to recommend treatment.
Why should the same not occur in the vocal teacher's profession? It is
considered scandalous in the medical profession to "steal" another
physician's patient, and why should not a similar etiquette prevail in
the profession now under consideration? The teacher in doubt about a
voice might thus obtain the views of another member of his profession,
of longer experience, on such a vital point as the classification of a
voice, and with satisfaction alike to himself and to his pupil. If the
teacher or pupil were not satisfied with the diagnosis, another
eminent vocal teacher might be consulted, which would only be
following custom in the medical profession.

We would again remind the reader that voices are to be _classified by
quality_, and not by range, at least not to any appreciable extent.

Of all persons, the singer should know himself. He must learn his
limitations, and the sooner the better. At the outset of his career he
may be able to take certain liberties with himself with apparent
impunity, but sooner or later he will pay the penalty; so that we
recommend him to live with all the care of an athlete in training.
However it may be with other men, spirits in every form, tobacco,
etc., are not for him. Both tend to irritate and relax if not to
inflame the throat, not to mention their bad effects on the general
health, both psychical and physical. This advice is all the more
necessary when one considers the exacting nature of the professional
life of the artist. Strenuous exertion tends to fatigue and
exhaustion, with a natural desire to relieve them by some special
means, such as alcohol. To do so is often but to make a beginning of
the end. How many bright lights in the dramatic and musical
professions have been prematurely quenched through indulgence in the
delusive draught! If tonics, sedatives, etc., are to be taken, which
should not be a habitual practice, they should be used only under the
direction of a medical man, and not self-prescribed.

As the speaker and singer must often practise their art in an
atmosphere that is far from pure, they will do well to carry out in a
routine way some sort of mouth toilet on their return home and the
next morning. Various simple mouth and throat washes may be used, such
as (1) water with a little common salt dissolved in it; (2) water
containing a few drops of carbolic acid--just enough to be distinctly
tasted; (3) water containing listerine; (4) either of the last two
with the addition of a pinch of bicarbonate of sodium to a teacupful
of the fluid, when there is a tendency to catarrh.

The use of lozenges in a routine way is not to be commended, and those
containing morphia, cocaine, etc., should be employed only under the
supervision of a medical practitioner. Sometimes, especially in the
case of nervousness, a licorice pellet or a particle of gum arabic
serves a good purpose in aiding in keeping the mouth moist.

For one with a healthy throat the sipping of water is unnecessary, and
the habit is one on no account to be learned, for the most admirable
effect may be spoiled through the speaker stopping to sip water; there
is the fatal and rapid descent from the lofty to the little.

It is much more important to avoid eating certain things which
interfere with the voice than to take anything to improve it before
singing or speaking. Each individual should learn just what he can or
cannot with safety eat. Certain kinds of fruit, cheese, fat meat,
pastry, nuts, occasionally even butter, not to mention puddings, etc.,
must be put on the list of what singers and speakers had better not
partake of before a public appearance. But the quantity is quite as
important as the quality of the food taken. About one half the usual
quantity, at most, and of very simple but nourishing food, is enough
for any one who would do himself justice before the public. If blood
and energy be drawn off to the stomach by a large meal, it cannot be
available for the uses of the artist. Moreover, a full stomach
pressing up under the diaphragm greatly hampers the movements of this,
the most important of all the muscles of breathing. Of course, the
public singer or speaker should eat after his work is done, of what
and how much he can best learn by experience.

As the author has felt called upon to condemn the use of alcohol in
every form, he should, perhaps, point out that to take a cup of such a
mild stimulant as tea or coffee during an interval, in the case of
those who feel weary, is generally an unobjectionable, indeed, often a
useful, procedure; but the less the artist coddles himself, especially
while still young, the better.

We would again call attention to one anatomical fact of great
importance for the explanation of certain facts of experience--viz.:
that the whole respiratory tract, the larynx included, is lined with a
_mucous membrane_, which is continuous with that covering the inner
surface of the digestive organs. That is to say, the nose, the mouth,
the back of the throat, the larynx, the windpipe, the bronchial tubes,
the gullet, the stomach and intestines are all brought into structural
connection by this common lining membrane. Moreover, these parts have
to some extent the same nerve supply, and are, in fact, so related
that derangement in one region must affect sooner or later, and to a
variable degree according to the resisting power of each individual,
other related parts. Thus it is that a disordered stomach affects the
voice, that a cold may affect digestion, that a catarrh of the nose
will eventually reach the vocal bands, etc.

Another principle of wide-reaching importance is that all sorts of
_compression_ must, of necessity, be attended by functional disorders,
which, if long continued, will result in organic or structural changes
implying deterioration of a kind that must be more or less permanent.
Whatever the cause of compression of the chest or neck, the result is
the same: a retention of blood in parts for too long a period--a
condition of things which must inevitably be injurious.

The tissues are made up of cells, which are the individuals of the
bodily community. Around these cells are found the smallest of the
blood-vessels, the capillaries, between which and the tissues a sort
of physiological barter is continually going on, the capillaries
handing over oxygen and food supplies from the blood, and receiving
waste materials in return, as the blood creeps along at a very slow
rate. If, however, in consequence of pressure on a part, the blood be
kept back in these minute vessels too long, there is naturally a
double evil: first, the food and oxygen supplies fail--they have been
used up already--and, secondly, the waste products accumulate in the
tissue cells, so that there is a combination of starvation and
poisoning--a sort of physiological slum life, with corresponding
degradation; so that it is not at all difficult to understand why
tight collars, neckbands, corsets, etc., must be unmixed evils, apart
altogether from the fact that they so greatly hamper the very
movements the voice-user most requires for the successful execution of
his task.

All sorts of straining or forcing also involve this same evil, known
to medical men as _congestion_. The sore throats so common with those
who force, owing to methods essentially wrong, or simply to the too
vigorous use of methods correct in themselves, are to be traced to the
above--_i.e._, to this congestion, which is bad, and bad only.

If one who had a naturally sound throat at the outset finds that after
vocal exercise he experiences either a soreness or an undue weariness
of parts, he should conclude, if he is living under healthy
conditions, that the methods he is employing are incorrect, and seek
the natural remedy. Proper vocal exercise should, in those with
healthy vocal organs, always improve them and the condition of the
whole man. The author has met those who have been ruined vocally for
life by the use of certain methods recommended by would-be
professional guides. Why should not all who assume the responsibility
of guiding speakers and especially singers be required by the state to
show that they have not only a knowledge of music and vocal technique,
but also at least a moderate amount of practical knowledge of the
anatomy and physiology of the vocal organs, with some elementary
information on general physiology? If the injury done by incompetent
teachers were realized, we feel certain that the above proposition
would not be questioned.

A common cause of congestion of the digestive organs, with which, of
course, other parts sympathize physiologically, is _constipation_,
very often the result of insufficient exercise, and injurious in many
ways. Speakers and singers very generally ride to and from their
engagements, so that there is special reason why they should see to it
that some time is set aside for general exercise, as walking in the
open air, which would of itself work against that tendency to grow fat
which is the physical curse that seems to fall on artists above most

It seems scarcely necessary to point out how important it is for those
who propose to take up the life of the stage or the platform to look
to hardening themselves against catching cold, by friction of the
skin, cold bathing, etc. The use of a sponge-bath of cold salt and
water to the upper parts of the body, especially the neck and chest,
will prove valuable in many cases, but the enervating effects of hot
water should be avoided by all.

     The remarks made in regard to Wagner's music on page 257
     have been among the very few to which exception has been
     taken by my reviewers.

     To those who disagree with me on the merits of the case I
     have nothing to say, but some have assumed that the writer
     was speaking out of pure theory, in real ignorance of
     Wagner's works. I wish to set that class of critics right.

     I have spent a great many seasons in Germany, and have heard
     Wagner's works under a great variety of circumstances, and
     have heard them also in several other countries. I have also
     had the opportunity of getting behind the scenes in a way
     that falls to the lot of few, so I think I am entitled to
     speak with rather more than the usual authority.

     My convictions as expressed in the foregoing chapter have in
     the interval rather strengthened than weakened. I am firmly
     convinced that it would be in the interests of art, the
     singer, and the auditor alike, either to shorten these
     operas, or to produce them in some way which will relieve
     the continuous strain. It must not be forgotten, either,
     that the poor overworked and greatly underpaid orchestral
     player often suffers severely in his nervous system from
     long continued Wagner playing.



_Stammering_ and _stuttering_ are allied but not identical defects.
They require special treatment, the earlier the better. Much can be
done by the exercise of a little patience and kind consideration, to
make the subject of these infirmities feel at ease, and so manifest
the defects as little as possible. It is, of course, as a general
rule, very unwise to take any notice whatever of such imperfections,
as they are thereby made worse. As a rule, they are best treated
practically by those who have made this branch a specialty.

Those who have been badly taught, or who have overworked the vocal
organs and, in consequence, may have broken down, are among the most
discouraging if they be not the very worst cases that come under the
treatment of the physician or vocal teacher. If the throat be out of
order, a specialist should be consulted. He will likely enjoin
complete rest of the vocal organs, and his advice should be implicitly
followed. But usually the time comes when some sort of vocal exercises
may be resumed. When this is the case, the choice of a teacher becomes
of the utmost importance, more so than in ordinary cases, for further
injudicious treatment may lead to the utter ruin of the voice.
Assuming that medical treatment is no longer or not at all required,
we recommend: (1) That all practices be only _piano_, or, at most,
_moderato_, for some time; (2) that they be of very brief duration at
any one period, so as to avoid fatigue; (3) that they be well within
the range of the singer. The same principles apply to speakers who
have broken down, whether owing to bad methods or to over-use of the
voice. It is most important that strength and facility be gradually
gained, and that weariness, not to say fatigue, be strictly avoided.
If the general health be good, time, patience, and the utmost care in
the application of the above principles, under the direction of an
enlightened teacher, will in a large proportion of cases restore the
voice for efficient use in at least moderate efforts. Of course, much
depends on the age, general health, intelligence, etc., of the

On the question of the extent to which a singer's range can be safely
increased, the greatest difference of opinion exists, and very extreme
views have been held. On the one hand are those who almost ridicule
the idea of "making" tones, and on the other, those who maintain that
the range of all young singers can be increased by proper training.

As a matter of fact, there are many singers before the public to-day
whose range, either upward or downward, has been increased by many
tones, in some cases almost an octave, and these singers are
successful artists and sound vocalists; while others have sought to
add but two or three tones to their range, and in vain. This is quite
intelligible. As a rule, those of the former class have fallen into
the hands of very good teachers, while yet young, have had excellent
health and well-formed vocal organs, and been patient and attentive
students. The acquisition has been gradual, and never forced. We have
before said that if a pupil felt his throat the worse for a lesson in
vocal culture, there was something wrong: either the method was
incorrect in itself, or the practice was continued too long or carried
out too vigorously. Of course, it is always assumed that the vocal
organs are in a normal condition, and the student's health good not
only generally but on the day of the practice.

It is in every case for the student himself to determine, from his own
feelings, whether the attempt to reach a certain tone produces
straining, and for the teacher to judge whether this be so, from the
appearance of the face of the pupil, the character of the tone, etc.
One thing is certain: harm, and harm only, is done by any form of
forcing or straining. At the same time, as the athlete increases the
height to which he can jump, or the speed with which he can run, even
during a single season, it seems illogical to conclude that in no case
can a singer safely reach tones that are not originally in his
voice--meaning thereby that he is unable to sing them at the outset of
his career. This is one of those subjects on which common sense and
science unite in admonishing us to test cautiously and to progress
gradually, if the purpose is to be achieved with good results for the
individual and for art.

It is also unwise for a singer to attempt those selections in public
the range of which taxes him to the very utmost. They lead to undue
anxiety as to success, violate the principle of reserve force, to
which reference has several times been made, and may lead to vocal
failure, if not to injury to the throat. Though it is true that
occasionally a song suffers by transposition to a lower key, if the
vocalist is determined to sing a composition even slightly beyond his
easy range, it is better to resort to it than to risk the
possibilities mentioned above and other undesirable ones.

Everyone who purposes to follow the arduous career of the vocal or
dramatic artist would do well to realize early the importance of
learning the art of conserving energy, or making the most of all that
Nature has given him. When a man or woman is small, and has less
breath power than some others, it becomes more important that they
observe the laws of contrast, rest, etc., in their public efforts. A
_forte_ has much the same effect, if it be preceded by darker, quieter
tones, as if it were really louder. In like manner, a pause may often
serve a very good purpose in preparing the ear of the listener for an
effect that should be telling, yet a difficult one for a person of
limited physical powers.

In reality, all the best art recognizes, mostly unconsciously, the
peculiarities of our physical and mental nature. A continuous _forte_,
for example, ceases to be a _forte_, in reality, since the ear and the
mind weary under it, and all the effect of contrast is lost. As we
have more than once said, good art is physiological--in harmony with
the laws of the body, as well as of the mind. It follows that each one
should study especially how to make the wisest, the most effective,
use of his powers, for what is best for one may not be so for another.

A singer or speaker, by reason of a voice somewhat small in volume,
may seem to be shut out from certain buildings. This need rarely be
the case. The artist must simply the more carefully consider how he
shall vary his effects, how so use his powers that they shall suffice.
A loud voice may be a very bad one for the hearer, and may annoy and
weary rather than please. When a building is large, nearly all effects
should be increased--_e.g._, all pauses lengthened, the _tempo_ taken
a little slower, the contrasts made stronger, etc.,--rather than the
volume of tone increased. The method of attack becomes of the utmost
importance; all low or soft passages should be sung or uttered with
the greatest distinctness, all final letters most perfectly finished.
It is especially important for a speaker to be aware of his
favorite--_i.e._, most easy and natural--pitch, and also that pitch
which best adapts his voice to a certain building. Many forget that
sound does not, in reality, travel very rapidly, and that allowance
must be made for this, so that one tone shall not break on the ear
before another has had time to be attended to--one idea to be grasped
before another is presented.

Of all things pauses are of the greatest importance, to the listener,
that he may apprehend the ideas presented, and to the speaker, that he
may have time to take breath and a brief rest, and also seize the
opportunity to readdress himself, so to speak, to his auditors, by the
use of another accent, pitch of tone, or whatever he deems most apt to
his purpose. Speakers who make suitable pauses with intention (not
from lack of ideas), or from an artistic instinct, give pleasure, as
well as effect their intellectual purpose, for the listener also gets
his moments for rest, perceives readily what is meant, and enjoys the
purely sensuous in the art far more than when the speaker's utterance
rushes on like a torrent. All this applies to a certain extent to the
singer, though it is but very inadequately observed--we must say,
however, much better than at a former period, when "ranting," on the
stage especially, was a very common fault.

In an earlier chapter attention was given to the precautions to be
taken before a public appearance, especially by those who are
inexperienced; and we would again emphasize the fact that those who
have the best training, and have made the most perfect special
preparation for the coming event, are least likely to suffer from that
great disturber, nervousness; and when they are somewhat tense, the
well-disciplined often recover rapidly, and frequently astonish their
friends by the success of their first appearance. We strongly
recommend all who can to take rest on the day preceding and following
a hard evening's work, and preferably, in summer, in the open air. A
quiet walk in a park, where one may think or observe or not, as he
feels inclined, is an excellent thing to do, either before or after a
strenuous artistic effort. If the battery is to be well charged, it
must not be discharged even partially before the right moment.
Amateurs and the inexperienced are particularly apt to neglect such
precaution for success, and to fritter away their energies by
attention to details, possibly trivial ones, up to the last moment.

Happy is he who, well prepared for his task, free from worries,
unmoved by envy, jealousy, or undue ambition, can step before the
public resolved to do his best for art, and who, having done it, can
rest in the satisfaction that he has contributed something to the
innocent and ennobling enjoyment of his fellows, and so has helped to
advance those of his own generation; caring little for either the
flatteries of admirers or a criticism that may be ignorant, unjust,
or malignant, but feeling that the best reward is the approval of his
own conscience, knowing that "Art is long, and life short."



All the most important truths of any subject may be stated in a brief
space. The Author proposes to make this final chapter one of a
restatement of the essentials of the subject in the light of our
present-day knowledge, and with a distinct relation to practice.

The object of the speaker or singer is to produce certain sounds which
shall as easily as possible convey to the listener his own state of
mind. It follows that he must have a clear idea of these sounds, that
he must hear them mentally prior to their utterance; in other words,
the psychological must precede the physiological. Voice production for
the purpose of speaking and singing implies a coöperation of the
psychic and the physiological, a co-ordination of processes that are
psychic, and physical, somatic or physiological.

It is well to regard the subject from as many points of view as
possible, and to consider the various ways in which the same truth may
be stated.

Stress must be laid on the idea of co-ordination, for processes may be
independently satisfactory yet fail to lead to the desired result if
they are not connected, harmonised or co-ordinated. The latter is the
better term because it suggests a certain order of progress. As a
matter of fact, first the psychic, then the physiological. The idea
may be clear, yet from a physical defect, as in stammering, the result
does not follow, though this physiological imperfection in movement
may itself be the result of a psychic condition and generally is so. A
clearer case is that of paralysis of the vocal organs. The ideas to be
expressed may be perfectly clear in the mind yet impossible of
expression. The defect is at the distal end of the combination--_i.e._,
in the physical, somatic or bodily part of the process to express the
same idea by the use of different terms. The consideration of
conditions of defect or pathological states may make normal
psychological and physiological ones clearer, as has been shown by the
above illustrations. The practical importance of the co-ordination of
processes is very great. It is not possible for one born deaf to speak
because the necessary mental or psychic conditions for co-ordination
do not exist--_i.e._, there is no sound in the mind to be
expressed--not because there is any serious anatomical defect. In like
manner the student of singing will produce no better tone than he has
in mind no matter how much he practices vocalization. It follows,
therefore, that the psychic state of the student should be kept in
advance of his actual powers of execution. This he will most
successfully do by listening to the best artists either directly or if
this be impossible by hearing their gramophone records--all this in
addition to the best the teacher can do for him by the correction of
faults, giving him illustrations of better tone by his own efforts,
etc. If the student has the opportunity of hearing himself by means of
a phonographic record, he should not fail to do so. No one ever hears
himself as others hear him.

As the mind and the brain are always associated in thought and
feeling; in other words, in psychic processes, and these latter find
expression chiefly through movements, in one sense a study of
vocalization may be considered a study of movements. These are always
brought about by the use of several muscles which act together for a
definite end--_i.e._, they are co-ordinated. As such movements
generally involve many muscles and to be effective must be exact and
under perfect control, much practice is necessary, though "much"
should have reference rather to the clearness of the mind in reference
to what is to be attained and the means of accomplishing it, rather
than to the amount of time spent over the actual performance. We may
confidently assert that technique or the physical side of putting the
ideas into execution, which is simply making certain movements, is
successful largely in proportion to the perfection of the psychic
processes involved. A clear head should precede the moving hand, or
functioning vocal organs. The student should think technique before
and after its actual execution. This is even yet, in spite of a great
advance in recent years, the weakest part of the student's method of
work. All that we know of science as well as the results of all
rightly directed practice emphasizes the importance of this central

Assuming that the psychic condition is satisfactory for the production
of a definite tone--_i.e._, that it is heard mentally, what follows
before it is actually produced, before it becomes a tone from the
physicist's point of view? What is the chain of physical, somatic,
bodily or anatomical (to use several words that express similar but
slightly different aspects of the same main idea) connections
involved, and what is the nature of the physiological processes; in
other words, what are the parts of the body involved and how do they
act? This will be clearer if we first consider the mechanism concerned
and its functions in a general way.

The instrument which is played upon, which finally gives rise to the
tone, may be spoken of as that connected series of cavities for which
we have no single term but which are generally named the resonance
chambers when regarded from the physicist's point of view. To the
musician they are the instrument, to the physiologist and anatomist a
set of chambers communicating with each other. Plainly all the rest
of the vocal mechanism exists for them, and too much stress cannot be
laid on this fact. However excellent the state of training of the part
below them this is of no avail except in so far as it can affect these
resonance cavities.

How is this instrument played upon and how are these cavities made
actually into resounding chambers? In the answer to this, in the
recognition of the relationship of the three distinct parts of the
vocal apparatus lies the one great fundamental conception of the
manner in which tone is produced. To understand this clearly is to
comprehend in its main outlines the whole subject of voice production
in a scientific way.

Before a tone is heard vibrations of the atmospheric air must reach
the ear. These are set up by the vibration of the air within the
resonance chambers, and this again is effected by the mechanism below
them--_i.e._, by the movements of the vocal bands of the larynx which
are due to the blast of air emanating from the lungs, this itself
being brought into being by the movements of the chest, using the term
in the widest sense, thus including the diaphragm, etc.

Breathing has for its object so far as phonation is concerned no other
purpose than to so affect the vocal bands, that the resonance chambers
really do resound. The question is how is this breathing best
accomplished so that the instrument shall be most efficiently played
upon? We cannot alter the anatomical structure of the instrument
appreciably, but we can improve the functioning of the several parts
of the whole apparatus. Breathing can be improved as regards power and
control. More can be done with less expenditure of energy than
originally if there be judicious training. How shall we train? As the
outgoing stream of air alone affects the vocal bands, it is clear that
we must aim to so apply and regulate this outflow that the desired
result shall follow from the least possible expenditure of energy. How
the air is got in is important only in relation to its expenditure.
But the easier the supply is furnished the better. This law of the
conservation of energy is one of the greatest importance, for all
beings have but a limited supply of energy and our problem must ever
be how best to husband this as a wise man should study how best to
spend his limited income. One must not only consider what is called
for in ordinary conversational speaking, or in singing in a small
room, but also when the greatest possible efforts are demanded. In all
cases when movements are concerned, indeed whenever activity of any
kind psychic or physiological is involved the _law of habit_ should be
borne in mind--_i.e._, one should so think and do that a habit may be
established, for a habit implies, when a good one, that there is
economy of both mental and bodily energy.

The aim of all training is to establish good habits--ways of doing
things which will leave the subject with more capital to invest so to
speak, as he wastes less. It follows that the same methods should
always be used in trying to attain the same end. There are few
subjects of equal importance so little considered by students of music
in a conscious intelligent way. A clear conviction as to the
foundation for close adherence to certain methods of doing things is
an invaluable mental asset for any student.

The whole subject of breathing has been so fully considered in
previous chapters--indeed more or less in all parts of this work--that
it is not necessary to go into much detail now. The investigations of
physiologists in the internal have only emphasised the author's
teaching on this subject. The present position of the subject may be
stated thus: (1) In inspiration the whole chest is enlarged, this
involving the descent of the diaphragm. (2) The amount of mobility is
much greater in the lower half of the chest. (3) This lower half of
the chest and the diaphragm act together, constituting a special
mechanism of great importance. (4) The abdominal muscles discharge a
coöperative function. It follows that the advice of a present day
famous tenor to "breathe low" is sound. Nevertheless, it must not be
forgotten that inspiration begins above and that the upper chest has
its functions also. It is not merely a region of support for the
lower mechanism, important as this function is. The terms "abdominal"
and "diaphragmatic" respiration have led to misunderstanding. Neither
the abdominal muscles nor the diaphragm ever act alone in normal
respiration, though they are important coöperative factors.

Breathing exercises should be based on broad views of the subject, and
no part of the respiratory mechanism should be neglected.

Small an organ as is the larynx it is through it the energy of the
expiratory act is transmitted effectively or the reverse to the
all-important resonance chambers. This should be so done that there is
no waste; in other words, that there be perfect co-ordination between
the breathing and the laryngeal mechanism. The vocal bands must be so
related in function to the expiratory mechanism that the outgoing
blast of air shall be as effective as possible. There must be no waste
of power--_i.e._, of the expiratory blast through escape of air that
accomplishes no purpose. The blast must be so applied to the vocal
bands, or, in other words, they must be so adapted to the blast that
there is no waste of energy. If the bands approximate a little too
late there is waste of breath power. The bands must further so beat
the air of the resonance chambers as to get the greatest possible
result with the least possible expenditure of energy. As all these
co-ordinations imply the action of many muscles in a related way, it
is plain that intelligent and prolonged training is necessary; and if
our scientific knowledge had no other result than to establish such a
conviction on a sure basis it would be well worth while; but it is a
light unto the feet of the student and teacher at every step, only it
must be a clear light, not one seen through a mental haze. If there be
failure the fault must not be set down to science but to ourselves.

It is ever to be borne in mind that when anything is done in the right
way not only is there no pain, unpleasant feeling or evil
after-effects, but when real skill has been attained through training,
the result is accomplished with a sense of ease and all the
accompanying feelings are agreeable. The singer need not know that he
has a throat by any disagreeable reminder. At the same time a function
may be correctly discharged but continued too long, so that weariness
or positive fatigue with some evil consequences may follow. Fatigue
always implies more or less poisoning of the system.

Of the resonance chambers, the mouth cavity, the pharyngeal cavity and
the naso-pharynx, which may both be regarded as a part of the mouth
cavity, and the nasal chambers, the latter may be considered the least
variable in shape; nevertheless they can, by means of the soft
palate, be to a large extent shut off from the other parts of this
series of chambers.

The means by which the size and shape of the resonance chambers can be
varied are chiefly the soft palate and the tongue, the latter being of
the greatest importance. The changes in the shape of the mouth cavity
necessary for the formation of vowels are due chiefly to the movements
of the tongue, and the tongue is more largely concerned in the
utterance of consonants than any other moveable part of the upper
voice mechanism.

For practical ends it is important to realize that one speaks with the
tongue; and if one believed that everything depended on this organ,
other parts--including the outer mouth or lips merely to be kept out
of the way--the result would on the whole likely be gain.

In the formation of vowels the result may be good when the lips take
but the slightest active part, and the student is advised to practice
vowel formation without the use of the lips. He is likely to use them
enough in any case provided he ensures the formation of pure vowel
sounds, and people seem to have an extraordinary facility for
over-doing the use of lip movements, for getting the teeth in the way
and thus spoiling tone, that was begun well, before it has escaped
from the mouth. It may be observed that those who get their living on
the streets by the use of the voice, and who use the voice much and
often speak rapidly, and in spite of this are heard well, so construct
their words that the lips are not seen to move to any appreciable
extent except as the lower jaw moves. The lips seem to be always
apart. It is not the amount of movement that is important but the kind
of movement, especially its rapidity.

Muscular efforts for the production of consonants should be neat,
decisive, sharp, rather than held ones, which tend to spoil the word
as a whole. As a rule, one is safe in holding the vowel as long as
possible and in making the time dwelt on the consonant as short as
possible--_i.e._, consistent with distinct and musical utterance.

The same applies to singing with even greater force. In speaking
especially short pauses not printed in the text may be made to great
advantage, and this is often better than dwelling on consonants. The
mouth of the speaker and still more that of the singer should not
attract the attention of the listener, so the less movement of the
lips of a kind readily open to observation, the better. Besides such
movements being unnecessary are a waste of muscular and nervous

Singers are not warranted in departing to any appreciable extent from
the pronunciation of words laid down as standard for speakers--_e.g._,
"shall" should not be sung as "sholl," and in such a word as "motion,"
the final syllable should not be made equally important with the
first one. Singers should observe the laws of a good elocution; in
other words, such treatment of the language of the song as an approved
reader would employ. The author would go so far as to say that no
singer should appear in public till he can utter every syllable as he
sings so that it is readily recognised by the listener. At present
such is rarely the case even with the best vocalists. All prospective
vocalists should study utterance by the speaking voice first and
continue it when the study of singing has been begun. The words of
every song, etc., should be mastered in all respects before they are

As the degree of success in singing or speaking depends so far as
technique is concerned on a series of co-ordinations the condition of
both the psychic and bodily mechanism as determined by training and
the general health of the individual is of great importance; and it is
not to be forgotten that the mind as well as the body is to be
considered in all questions of hygiene.



Abdominal muscles, 66

Acoustics, 97

Adam's apple, 80

Adductors, 82

Air, 48
  complemental, 70
  quantity of, in lungs, 70
  residual, 70
  supplemental, 70
  tidal, 70

Amateurs, 274

American speech, 146

Americans, pitch of, 224

Antagonists, 53

Anatomy, 35

Art, 17, 272

Artist, isolation of, 254

Artistic, 246
  perception, 245
  temperament, 31

Arytenoid cartilages, 77

Aspirates, 228

Attack, 30, 125, 127, 208
  best tests of a good, 129
  good, 127, 232

Auditory messages, 250

Auto-laryngoscopy, 109, 110, 152, 161


"Backward" production, 213

Bel Canto, 211

Break, 162

Breath, 60, 72
  control of, 20, 21
  exercise for, 133, 134
  in phonation, 130
  manner of using, 172, 208
  stream, 22, 125, 194

Breathing, 44-73, 118, 124
  abdominal, 118
  clavicular, 118, 119
  deep, 63
  diaphragmatic, 118, 119
  exercises, 131
  mechanism, control of, 120
  method of, 64, 177
  nose, 131


Cartilage of Santorini, 77
  Wrisberg, 77

Cells, 36

Chest, 50, 62, 71
  cavity of, 71
  complete control of, 62
  position of, in singing, 123
  in speaking, 123

Children, public appearance of, 116
  register of, 234

Choral singing, 247

Choristers, 256

Circulatory system, 37

Clergyman's sore-throat, 88

Cold, a, 77, 92
  prevention of, 93

Color, 214

Composers, 116

Consonant, a, 195, 196

Consonants, 223, 225, 226, 230-235
  mouth positions of, 226-228

Corsets, evil effects of, 72

Coup de glotte, 124-127, 139

Cramming, 46

Cricoid cartilage, 77, 81
  thyroid, 83, 85
    membrane, 81

Curwen, 156


Dialects, 225, 235

Diameters, 50

Diaphragm, 52, 53, 66, 71


Ear, 182, 236, 245, 248
  connection with mouth cavity, 203
  drum-head of, 240
  external, purpose of, 240
  for music, 244
    lack of, 245, 249
  inner, 237, 241
  middle, 237, 241
  musical, 31
  outer, 237
    purpose of, 238

Ease, 123, 233

English, 198
  speech, 146

Epiglottis, 79

Eustachian tube, 241

Execution, 179, 256

Exercises, 131-135, 139
  practical, 73

Expiration, 49

Expiratory blast, 60, 68, 88, 103, 177
  current, 136, 208

Explosives, 226

Expression, 254


Falsetto, 154
  high, 170, 178
  in males, 160, 179

"Feeling-tone", 212

Food, 263

"Forward" production, 213

Fundamental principles, 179-194
  application of, 195-206
  tone, 231


Garcia, Manuel, 105, 138, 159

German language, 198
  speech, 146

Germans, pitch of, 224

Glide, 258

Glottis, 47, 78, 82, 88, 126, 159
  in barytone voices, 157
  bass voices, 157
  contralto voices, 158
  mezzo-soprano voices, 158
  tenor voices, 157
  ligamentous, 157


Head, position of, 205

Hearing, 101, 236-250
  difference in animals, 101
  highest limit of, 102
  lower limit of, 102

Helmholtz, 167

Hygiene, 33, 72, 92, 93, 251-275

Hyoid bone, 81, 95


Illustration of principles, 27, 28

Impulses, 236

Inhibitions, 184

Inspiration, 48, 51, 71

Intonation, 195, 196, 230
  correct position for good, 131

Italian language, 198


Knowledge, principle of, 34


Larynx, 60, 74-96, 136, 148, 258
  anatomy of, 21
  as a musical instrument, 102
  change in size of, 111
  control over, 112
  difference in size, 110
  growth of, 138
  in action, 109
  in singing and speaking, 198
  muscles of, 81, 95
  of the male 138
  photography of, 161
  physiology of, 21
  ventricle of, 80
  vibrations of, 96
  whole, 94

Laryngoscope, 91, 103, 136

Ligamentous glottis, 157

Lips, 202

Lungs, 49, 63

Lymph, 37


Mackenzie, Sir Morell, 156, 167, 168

Mara, Madame, range of, 111

Marcato production, 209

Marchesi, Madame, teaching of, 159

Men, register of, 234

Messages, Auditory, 250

Methods, correct, 22, 23
  faulty, 32

Middle production, 214

Midriff, see diaphragm

Mind, 210

Mirror, use of, 235

Mouth, as a resonance chamber, 221
  resonator, 148
  cavity, 149
  respiration, 131
  toilet of, 262

Movements, 192

Muscles, 36, 82
  abdominal, 66

Muscular action, 71
  mechanism, 42
  movements, 179

Music, 243
  appreciation of, 247
  intellectuality in, 256
  intelligence in, 108
  interpretation of, 21

Musical artist, 198
  ear, 31
  prodigy, 243
  faculty develops early, 115
  faults, 258
  sounds, practical range of, 102
  tones, 231

Musician, fundamental qualities of, 246


Nasal chambers, 144, 149, 214

Nasality, 231

Nerve-cells, 38

Nervous centres, 39
  impulses, 244, 250
  system, 38

Nervousness, 274

Neuro-muscular mechanisms, 17, 42, 181
  processes, 183
  system, 43

New language, learning of, 224

Noise, 218


Open mouth, 203, 204, 217

Ordinary speech, 230

Overtones, 231, 235


Palate, cleft, 149
  hard, 149, 213
  soft, 145, 214, 216, 231

Phonation, 192, 193
  breath in, 130
  example of, 193

Physics, principles of involved, 135

Physiological considerations, 34-43
  teachings, 26, 31

Piano production, 259

Pillars of the fauces, 145

Pitch, 101, 136, 150, 214
  favorite, 273

Portamento production, 258

Practical considerations, 88

Practice, 132, 185-192
  best time to, 186, 187
  by wrong method, 191
  for sustained tone, 132
  methods of, 194

Puberty, at, 112, 138
  in boys, 114, 115
  in girls, 113

Public singing, age to begin, 115
  speaking, 212

Pumping, 259


Quality, 101, 136, 214


R and s, interval between, 225

Reed, long, 157
  short, 157

Reflex action, 40

Reflexes, associated, 183
  protective character of, 58, 59
  sets of, 184

Register, 233
  change in, 169, 177
  chest, 160
  definition of, 176
  in female voices, 160
  of basses and barytones, 170
  of tenors, 170

Registers, 151-178
  Behnke on, 155, 156, 167
  Garcia on, 155
  Mackenzie on, 156, 167, 168
  Madame Seiler on, 153, 165, 170
  Mandl on, 158

Resonance chambers, 102, 136, 140-150, 175, 182, 198, 213, 223, 224,
    228, 234
  in sounding bodies, 140
  of musical instruments, 140, 141

Resonants, 228

Resonator, 148

Respiration, 46, 48, 68, 69
  forced, 119
  hygiene of, 55
  mouth, 131

Respiratory centre, 57, 58, 172
  efficiency, 124
  organs, 47
  system, 37
  tract, 26


Science, 17

Scripture, Prof., 150

Seiler, Madame, 153, 165, 170

Selections in public, 271

Sensations, 172, 174, 175, 178

Septum nasi, 149

Singer, purpose of, 99
  range of, 269

Singing, choral, 256
  class, 257
  fortissimo, 121
  good, 259
  in schools, 247

Song, elements of, 218-229

Soprano, highest tones of, 137
  light, 232

Sound, 60, 97-103, 135, 225
  quality of, 102, 246
  Tyndall on, 97
  volume of, 101, 102, 136

Sounding body, 99

Speaker, purpose of, 99

Speaking, good, 259

Speech, elements of, 218-229
  organs of, 233
  purity of, 135

Sphincter action, 86

Staccato production, 209

Stammering, 268

Stop-closure, 158

Straining, 86, 175

Straw bass, 88

Stuttering, 268

Style, 254

Swell, 207, 212


Technique, 23, 179, 183, 185, 186, 254, 255

Teeth, 202

Temperament, 245

Tenors, 232

Throat mirror, 107
  sore, 265

Thyro-arytenoideus, 84, 85
  hyoid membrane, 81

Thyroid cartilage, 76, 81

Timbre, 136

Tone, 132, 135, 136
  carrying power of, 126
  color of, 214
  ground, 231
  head, 160
  piano, 233
  pitch of, 126
  production, 132, 207-217
  quality of, 128, 142, 150, 231
  the sustained, 208
  volume of, 126

Tones, 189
  head, 177
  highest, 137
  lower, 137
  quality of, 146
  timbre of, 136
  upper, 86

Tongue, 131, 145, 149, 214
  control of, 202
  influence of, 201

Tonsils, 145, 149

Trachea, 81

Tremolo, 128, 258, 259

Tuning fork, 99


Uvula, 145


Vibrations, 61, 98, 100, 236

Vibratives, 228

Vibrato, 258

Vital capacity, 71

Vocal athlete, 182

Vocal bands, 87, 103, 126
    action of, 137
    false, 78
    true, 77, 78, 80, 94
    vibrations of, 136
  cords, false, 95
    Madame Seiler on, 154
    true, 95
  methods, 32
  physiology, 17-32
  training, early weeks of, 246

Vocalises, 207

Vocalist, ideal, 198

Vocalization, 19, 31

Voice, 44, 254
  breaking of, 114
  brightening the, 216
  carrying power of, 232
  darkening the, 216
  even, 84
  harsh, 232
  head, in females, 166
  in ill health, 114
  loud, 272
  placed, 215
  position in use of, 206
  production, 22, 244
  small in volume, 272
  user, 17, 33, 46
    exercises for, 135
  well placed, 175

Voices, classification of, 260, 261
  injured, 26

Vowel, a, 195
  purity of, 199
  sounds, 196, 197, 216

Vowels, adaptation of, to ideas, 222
  and consonants, 230, 235
  dark, 235
  formation of, 218-221
  low-pitched, 235
  mouth positions of, 218
  perfect sound of, 221
  pitch of, 221, 225, 230
  quality of, 221


Wagner, 257

Whispering, 225, 226

Women, register of, 234

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