I infer that their object is to strike terror, because the lion at the same time erects the hair of its mane, and the dog the hair along its back, and thus they make themselves appear as large and terrible as possible. Rival males try to excel and challenge each other by their voices, and this leads to deadly contests. Thus the use of the voice will have become associated with the emotion of anger, however it may be aroused. We have also seen that intense pain, like rage, leads to violent outcries, and the exertion of screaming by itself gives some relief; and thus the use of the voice will have become associated with suffering of any kind.

The cause of widely different sounds being uttered under different emotions and sensations is a very obscure subject. Nor does the rule always hold good that there is any marked difference. For instance with the dog, the bark of anger and that of joy do not differ much, though they can be distinguished. It is not probable that any precise explanation of the cause or source of each particular sound, under different states of the mind, will ever be given. We now that some animals, after being domesticated, have acquired the habit of uttering sounds which were not natural to them.[1] Thus domestic dogs, and even tamed jackals, have learnt to bark, which is a noise not proper to any species of the genus, with the exception of the _Canis latrans_ of North America, which is said to bark. Some breeds, also, of the domestic pigeon have learnt to coo in a new and quite peculiar manner.

The character of the human voice, under the influence of various emotions, has been discussed by Mr. Herbert Spencer[2] in his interesting essay on Music. He clearly shows that the voice alters much under different conditions, in loudness and in quality, that is, in resonance and _timbre_, in pitch and intervals. No one can listen to an eloquent orator or preacher, or to a man calling angrily to another, or to one expressing astonishment, without being struck with the truth of Mr. Spencer's remarks. It is curious how early in life the modulation of the voice becomes expressive. With one of my children, under the age of two years, I clearly perceived that his humph of assent was rendered by a slight modulation strongly emphatic; and that by a peculiar whine his negative expressed obstinate determination. Mr. Spencer further shows that emotional speech, in all the above respects is intimately related to vocal music, and consequently to instrumental music; and he attempts to explain the characteristic qualities of both on physiological grounds--namely, on "the general law that a feeling is a stimulus to muscular action." It may be admitted that the voice is affected through this law; but the explanation appears to me too general and vague to throw much light on the various differences, with the exception of that of loudness, between ordinary speech and emotional speech, or singing.

[1] See the evidence on this head in my `Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication,' vol. i. p. 27. On the cooing of pigeons, vol. i. pp. 154, 155.

[2] `Essays, Scientific, Political, and Speculative,' 1858. `The Origin and Function of Music,' p. 359.

This remark holds good, whether we believe that the various qualities of the voice originated in speaking under the excitement of strong feelings, and that these qualities have subsequently been transferred to vocal music; or whether we believe, as I maintain, that the habit of uttering musical sounds was first developed, as a means of courtship, in the early progenitors of man, and thus became associated with the strongest emotions of which they were capable,--namely, ardent love, rivalry and triumph. That animals utter musical notes is familiar to every one, as we may daily hear in the singing of birds. It is a more remarkable fact that an ape, one of the Gibbons, produces an exact octave of musical sounds, ascending and descending the scale by halftones; so that this monkey "alone of brute mammals may be said to sing."[3] From this fact, and from the analogy of other animals, I have been led to infer that the progenitors of man probably uttered musical tones, before they had acquired the power of articulate speech; and that consequently, when the voice is used under any strong emotion, it tends to assume, through the principle of association, a musical character. We can plainly perceive, with some of the lower animals, that the males employ their voices to please the females, and that they themselves take pleasure in their own vocal utterances; but why particular sounds are uttered, and why these give pleasure cannot at present be explained.

The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals Page 36

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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