Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/186

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the intended note is high or low, to vibrate, and thus is produced the tone which upon its entrance into the pharyngeal cavity and mouth becomes articulated, and the sound of which is variously and essentially modified according to the varying peculiarities of structure and formation of the larynx, pharynx, and mouth. It is also changed or modulated according as the various parts of the mouth, tongue, palate, teeth, and lips, assume different positions. Cultivation of the voice also impresses its stamp. The tone-waves, as they rush out of the open mouth, communicate their vibrations to the air, which conducts the sound onward until it reaches our ears, provided we are within the reach of these atmospheric vibrations. The difference between a cultivated voice or note is soon detected in the purity and regularity with which its sounds reach us as compared to the harsh, irregular, discordant waves impelled by one not so cultivated. Johannes Müller places the extreme range of the human voice at four octaves, but it is quite seldom that the range exceeds two and a half octaves. In some phenomenal voices, like those of the gifted Parepa-Rosa, Peschka-Leutner, Mara, Farinelli, and other great singers, we meet with astounding range and power. Parepa-Rosa had a voice ranging full three octaves, from sol 2 to sol3; and Flint, the learned and indefatigable physiologist, tells that at the World's Musical Festival at Boston, in 1869, she gave the most astounding exhibitions of the wonders which this little organ, the larynx, is capable of. In some of the solos by Madame Rosa, accompanied by a chorus of 12,000 with an orchestra of more than a thousand, and largely composed of brass instruments, Prof. Flint distinctly heard the pure and just notes of this remarkable soprano, standing alone, as it were, against the entire choral and instrumental force; and this in an immense building containing an audience of 40,000 persons! Mara's voice had compass, with equal fullness of tone, of three octaves, and she possessed such power of musical utterance that she imitated the most difficult passages of the violin and flute with perfect facility. Farinelli on one occasion competed with a trumpeter, who accompanied him in an aria. After both had several times dwelt on notes in which each sought to excel the other, they prolonged a note with a double trill in thirds, which they continued until both seemed exhausted. At last the trumpeter gave up, entirely out of breath, while Farinelli, without taking breath, prolonged the note with renewed volume of sound, trilling and ending finally with the most difficult roulades.

But these wonderful displays of the power of the larynx must not be ascribed entirely to the intensity of the tone, but are in no small measure due to the absolute mathematical equality of the sonorous vibrations and the comparative absence of discordant waves. By the degree of tension of the vocal cords which is required for the pitch of a prescribed tone, and which, as we have seen, is greater in the