Rosicrucian Writings Online

Duality of Tone

By Violet Cowger, F.R.C.
[From The Rosicrucian Digest December 1936]
IN A treatise on Song, Max Spicker has written: "Beauty of Tone is dual; a material, sensuous beauty in and of the Tone alone, and a spiritual beauty giving it inspiration and character."
Rosicrucian students, through mystical training, may realize to the fullest the dual beauty of Tone. Moreover, with the understanding acquired through the study of their monographs, they may realize that beauty of Tone is not only dual--it is also sacred, being a manifestation of the Breath of Life.
Vocal Tone is both material and psychic in its manifestation. Material Tone is produced by the entire material body. For this reason, the careful teacher of Voice considers many points concerning the general health and well-being of the student, for excellent health is required to produce Tone that is vibrant with buoyancy, vitality and power.
The first point to be considered in building Tone technique is posture. In the monographs of the Sixth Degree valuable information is given concerning the skeleton framework of the human body: how delicately it is poised and balanced on the framework of the feet, how beautifully it supports the various organs, and how wonderfully it shields and protects certain organs. If the posture of this delicately adjusted framework is poor or deficient, various ills may result, such as: shoulders out of position, sunken chest, weakened waist muscles, crooked back and many other malformations. All of these, or any one of them may cause illness or some physical ailment. In the study of voice fine posture is one of the great essentials of good tone production. Certain exercises are given to improve and perfect posture. Practiced over a period of months, the student walks, stands and sits with good posture, and this very essential item regarding body-welfare sometimes brings about a tremendous change in the general health of the individual. Fine posture not only improves personal appearance, but it has a most beneficial effect upon the student's attitude, helping to create poise.
Tone beautifully rendered, must be absolutely free from tension or interference, and float on the breath. In vocal technique the most careful consideration is given to the breath control of the singer. Exercises involving deep inhalation and smooth, evenly executed exhalation build strength and endurance in the student. The buoyant expansion of the diaphragm, without tension in any part of the body, contributes to the power and stability of Tone. Poor breathing and poor exhalation are often the cause of the much dreaded Tremolo.
Added to posture and breath control is the subtle art of Voice Placement. The object of placing a Voice is to cause an adjustment of the vibrations of Tone that will enable Tone to float on the breath entirely free from tension or interference. In studying the organ or piano, one may watch the fingers operate the keys and observe the technique of Tone production, but one cannot see a Voice nor watch any of the adjustments that occur in the vocal chords or other parts of vocal mechanism to change pitch or produce Tone. All manner of procedures have been undertaken by teachers to place the Voice, and thousands of students have taken up one method after another only to become confused and discouraged.
Voice teachers of today agree that voice placement should be obtained by a mental picture of the Tone. Those who teach voice placement from the physical point of view--coaching students to hold the tongue with a spoon, or to cause the Tone to lift the soft palate, or that the lips must be distorted in some fashion--bring about tension in these parts of the vocal mechanism, thereby defeating the production of Tone that is mellow, loose, ethereal and pure. Teachers who present a mental picture of Tone teach the focusing of vibrations just above the teeth, or just back of the cheeks below the eyes, or finest of all--bringing the vibrations to a focal point back of the forehead between the eyes.
In the Western World of today, competition, speed of living, the hurry of crowded schedules, and the wear and tear of a multitude of activities cause a high tension and severe strain that is seen even in growing children. In order that the body may release Tone that is smooth and velvety, the student of Voice must realize the value of relaxation. Many fine exercises are given for this purpose, for strain and tension must be eliminated if freedom of Tone is to be realized. Relaxation of the entire body and a breaking up of the stiff lines of a set posture are conducive to the release of Tone.
Summing up these few items, one finds that the technique of material Tone embraces:
Correct Posture
Correct Breathing
Correct Voice Placement
The psychic manifestation of Tone is of paramount interest to the student of mysticism. The true mystic knows that the Material Tone, perfected by the best possible technique, is merely a vehicle for the real Tone which is produced by Soul. The old saying, "as a man thinketh so is he," is true of the Voice, for as a man thinks and lives, so does he color the tonal quality of his Voice in speech and song. Every emotion, be it good or bad, uplifting or degrading, reflects its vibrations through the medium of Tone. It is a mystical truth that "Sound is the Father of Creation," for in the beginning the emanation of the word from the Divine Source brought into being all manifestations of creation. So in an infinitesimal way man sends forth vibrations through sound that are creative or destructive according to the emotions that color his Voice.
A woman scolds and nags in her home and vibrations of pain are sent through the nervous systems of her children; a man in an office greets his patrons with a sharp tongue and repels and loses his customers; an agitator talks to crowds and arouses them to deeds of evil; a criminal talks over his plans in a back room and a murder is committed; propagandists shout to the multitudes and a war is started; but--a young mother croons to the child in her arms and the inner self of the child glows with the love expressed in her tones; an older mother rules her home with cultured, softly modulated tones of unselfish love and a young son receives the vibrations into his consciousness, never to lose them. At a later day he may be tempted to some wrong but the vibrations of her voice hold him back and steady him, and even in later life they remain the most sacred and revered of all influences. A teacher in a school talks calmly and helpfully to hundreds of students and the vibrations of his voice contribute to their individual advancement; a minister speaks to a crowded church and thousands are soothed and uplifted; a soloist pours out her heart in song and tears mark the cheeks of the listeners; a man speaks kindly to his dog, and the dog would protect him with his life. The psychic power expressed through speech and song is almost beyond human comprehension.
In the sanctums of Rosicrucian students, sacred vowel sounds are intoned as a means of attunement. These vowel sounds affect certain psychic centers in the individual, arousing with vibrations the dual functions of these glands. Correct breathing and Voice placement are invaluable to the Tone in providing a perfect channel for the psychic effect of these centers through Tone. The mental tone picture of focusing the vibrations of Tone back of the forehead between the eyes brings this point of focus in front of the pineal gland, called the "Seat of the Soul." Proper breathing fortifies the glands of the chest and head which contribute to the psychic value of the Tone as well as the material value. The Suprarenal glands, being the center of the emotions, supply emotional value to the Tone. Too much stress cannot be placed on the excellent exercise of breathing given in an early Neophyte Degree. This exercise consists of inhaling and concentrating on various parts of the body, bringing to the individual a keen realization of the psychic self. It also develops a tremendous power within the singer, and the use of it may enable a soloist to sing with very little of the objective consciousness. The same is true of speech.
Every individual contains within himself a nucleus of tremendous power. The mystic is trained to know and use this power in the right way. The human Voice is one of the great channels through which this power vibrates and it behooves every sincere student to purify, beautify and perfect this channel whether for speech or song.

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