DECLAMATION (Lat. declamare, to speak loudly, hence to exercise one's self in rhetorical delivery), is the art of speaking according to rules, whereby the sense of the words, as well as the feeling and sentiment, is naturally and characteristically repre sented. Recitation, therefore, whether spoken or sung, is subject to the laws of D., from which it derives its value and significance. Perfect D. implies correctness of speech, distinctness and clearness of enunciation, and a well-toned voice. D. is there fore clearly of a musical nature. In music, however, D. is so far different from the D. of speaking, that the singer must adhere to what the composer has written, as it is the latter who fixes the whole of the intonation, modulation, and phrasing, and also the tempi and expression, and who not unfrequently sacrifices the correctness of the D. to the charm of some peculiar melodic phrase or pleasing rhythm, or a vocal musical embellishment. The truth and beauty of correct musical D. are always endangered by a translation of the original words into another language, a work which, with the greatest care and ability, it is in many cases almost impossible to accomplish word for word, or syllable for syllable, so as to fit accurately to the accent of the music. The
master-works of many great composers suffer much in this respect, at which our musical public seem quite indifferent, while listening to trauslatious of operas so carelessly executed as to destroy their greatest beauties, and frequently altogether to distort the sentiment. In earlier times, as well as now, Considerable trouble has been taken to establish D. as a science. The ancients had a kind of note, or sign of intonation, which they placed over or under the words, possibly to decide whether the accent should be given by a high or by a low tone, and thus to regulate the modulation of the voice. That the theatrical D. of the ancients resembled the musical recitative of the present day, is generally admitted. In the German language, there are numerous works writ ten on the art of declamation.