« PredošláPokračovať »
fact that I have succeeded in producing similar voices by employing throughout the whole compass of the voice that mode of production which is used for the so-called falsetto. Here then, it seems to me, we have the clue to Nature's secret process. The untrained voices which by nature seem to possess—and, as I believe, do possess-only one register, owe their exceptionally fine condition to the manner in which the speaking voice is and always has been produced; and the result of my own experiments and investigations is to force me irresistibly to the conclusion that the mechanism by which this speaking voice is produced is simply and solely that which is employed in the production of the so-called falsetto.
If this conclusion be true, and I fail to see how it can be successfully disputed, then the question, What is falsetto? which has always been a puzzle to the physiologist, may be satisfactorily answered. Falsetto is the remains of a voice a portion of which has been wrongly produced, and the wrongly produced portion is not the falsetto itself, as is commonly supposed, but that portion which is known by the name of chest voice.' Signor Garcia, in his Hints on Singing, says that falsetto is a remnant of the boy's voice. This is perfectly true, although the majority of professional singers and many teachers of singing are quite unaware of it. But it is not the whole truth. Falsetto is not only a remnant of the boy's voice, but it is a remnant of the rightly produced voice. Moreover, in every case where it exists as a separate register it is the only rightly produced voice.
That the theory of voice production which this view involves is a strange and startling theory to propound is not to be denied. But I have brought forward some strange and startling facts, and these facts cannot, I believe, be accounted for by any other theory. Nor is this all. Strong and conclusive as these facts appear to me, they are not the only facts by which the theory may be supported. Others may be noted which point plainly in the same direction. There are many musical men who had good voices when they were boys, but have anything but good voices now. These men have a distinct recollection of the kind of voice which they formerly used when they sang soprano as children, and are well aware that, whatever were the mechanical means by which it was produced, the mode of production was exactly the same as that which they would now employ if they wished to produce the voice which is called falsetto. In other words, they are fully conscious of the fact, already referred to, that the falsetto of their present voice is the remains of their former soprano voice, while the voice which they now use both in speaking and in singing is obtained by a mode of production which was not natural to them as children, but was acquired at or about the period of change from boyhood to manhood. Some boys undoubtedly acquire the power of producing the so-called "chest voice' at an earlier period than this, but they are not usually the boys who have good soprano voices. I think I may safely say, with regard to really good boy sopranos, that while a few of them may use this chest voice' for their lowest notes, most of the best among them do not use it at all. It is a mode of production about which they know nothing and of which they feel no need. This being the case, I would ask the anatomist and physiologist what is there about the mechanism of the larynx to show that when the boy singer becomes a man he should change his mode of production for the whole, or nearly the whole, of his voice? Is there any difference, 80 far as the mechanism or muscular action is concerned, between the larynx of a boy and the larynx of a man? If so, all the books that I have studied on the subject have failed to mention it. That it increases greatly and rapidly in size at the age of puberty is, of course, well known. But if the mechanism continues the same, why should the mode of production be changed ? If a boy, by employing certain muscles of his larynx in a certain way, develops a good voice, it is surely in accordance with true physiological principles that he should continue, as he grows into manhood, to use these same muscles in the same way with the same satisfactory result !
Now my contention is that the men singers who possess the best voices did develop them in this way. They may not use them so at the present time. Many of them certainly do not; but that is the consequence of the training they have received, training which did not commence until long after Nature had completed her process of development. It is a curious confirmation of this view that if you ask these men about their voices, if you inquire what is the difference as regards production between the voice which they possess now and that which they possessed when they were boys, they will you
that they are not conscious of any radical change. Most of them will not have any clear recollection of their former voice, or of the kind of feeling they had in producing it; but if you happen to meet with one who has, he will declare to you that his voice merely got gradually lower in pitch and heavier in quality, and that he is using the same mode of production now as he used then.
It must not be assumed that, if this theory be true, every adult male singer who is being taught on any of the recognised systems of the present day is of necessity trained wrongly. That very large numbers of singers are being trained wrongly there can, I think, be little doubt. Indeed it is matter of common observation. But some teachers, like some preachers, are better than their creed, and, while they are wrong in theory, they are sometimes right in practice. Among the most successful of such teachers are those who make great use of what they call head voice.' Under this name they
Vol. XLI-No. 240
sometimes, though not always, cause to be trained downwards to a very considerable extent that part of the voice which, so far as its mode of production is concerned, is identical with the so-called falsetto. That is to say, when this kind of voice is fairly strong and good they call it head voice,' and tell their pupils to use it; but when it is weak and effeminate they call it falsetto, maintain that it is a different kind of voice altogether, look upon it as something unnatural, and tell their pupils not to use it. In these cases another kind of 'head voice' is used-viz., a sort of modified and restrained chest voice,' obtained by extreme elevation of the soft palate. But even when they employ the right kind of head voice,' which is really identical with the so-called falsetto, they fail to perceive its true character. They treat it simply as one of two registers, both of which are to be exercised, and when they have carried it down to a certain point they endeavour to unite it as nearly as possible with the so-called chest’ register. Sometimes, however, they carry it right down to the bottom of the voice without knowing it, and thus succeed in making a perfect voice by an imperfect method. There are also other cases in which the adult male voice
be properly trained upon a wrong method. These are the cases already referred to, in which the voice has been fully developed by Nature. Such a voice will have, as I have pointed out, all the robustness of the ordinary 'chest voice,' although it is produced in a different
It is true that, even in this splendid condition, it may be seriously injured by a false method of training, although it cannot be destroyed. But a wise and cautious teacher may be content to let it remain as it is. He will perceive at once that it is an exceptionally fine voice, but will be unaware that it is not produced in the ordinary way, and will see no reason for altering the mode of production.
Of course it is obvious that, if the theory here put forward were accepted, it would necessitate a revolution in the art of voice training. For this reason, however true it may be, and however cogent and convincing are the arguments in its favour, it is sure to meet with strenuous opposition. It will probably be turned into ridicule. A newly discovered truth often appears ridiculous to minds unprepared to receive it. It will also, no doubt, be decried and denounced as involving most dangerous and pernicious doctrine, which ought at once to be put down and stamped out. There are always some persons of a choleric disposition and with minds impervious to reason who, confidently believing themselves to be the sole depositories of the truth as well as its divinely appointed guardians, are ready to burn the heretic who ventures to call any article of their creed in question. Such persons, however, have little power or
influence in the present age of scientific enlightenment, and hardly need to be taken into consideration. I turn from them to persons of a different stamp, to the leaders of thought and progress, to men of open mind and dispassionate judgment. These I invite to examine and weigh the evidence which is here placed before them. I do not ask them to accept the theory for which I am contending. I merely ask them to inquire into it. If they will do this, the opposition which is sure to be raised by ignorance, prejudice, and self-interest may prevail for a time, but I shall have no fear of the ultimate result.
E. DAVIDSOX PALMER.
LAW AND THE LAUNDRY
The application, by the measure of 1895, of the Factory and Workshop Acts to the laundry appears likely to rank as one of the great disappointments of experimental legislation. For years there had been an agitation for securing to the washerwomen the advantages which the visits of the Factory Inspector had brought to other trades. A strong case was made out for this extension of the law. It was only by inadvertence that the great industry of washing clothes had been omitted from the 1867 Act. In that year Parliament intended to include within the scope of the Factory Inspector every kind of employment for profit in which manual labour was engaged. Unfortunately, the definition clause of the Act referred to the preparation of articles for sale. The result was that lawyers held that only those laundries which were attached to manufactories came under the Act. When shirts and collars, sheets and baby-linen, were washed on their way from the factory to the retail shop, the thousands of washerwomen employed enjoyed all the advantages that Parliament intended. The laundry had to be healthy and decently ventilated. Excessive hours of labour were sternly prohibited. Proper sanitary conveniences had to be provided. But all the other washerwomen—those who washed the customers' own articles—were by the unforeseen result of the two words in the definition left unprotected. And then there gradually forced itself upon the public attention a long tale of woe--of women kept slaving day and night at the washtub to cope with the unregulated rushes of work; of insanitary conditions and unhealthy workplaces; of low rooms filled with steam and noisome smell, absolutely without provision for ventilation; of the seeds of disease sown by long standing in the wet mess caused by defective flooring and drainage; of an absolute disregard, in short, by heedless or unscrupulous employers, of all those precautions and safeguards to the public health which had long since been made compulsory in every other industry. More important even than the physical effects were the demoralising results of this irregularity of life and bad conditions of work, the long hours and