Music Room Acoustics 1 Introduction

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Introduction to Music Room Acoustics

This page emerged as a response to the need to view room acoustics for music rehearsal and music performance of different ensemble sizes as a whole.

Well do we know that symphonic music and solo piano have different requirements, that performers and listeners have different requirements, and that practice rooms and concert halls have different requirements, and that dedicated spaces can have optimized acoustics according to respective requirements. These different requirements have naturally led to different fields of room acoustics, such as concert hall acoustics, stage acoustics, auditorium acoustics, rehearsal room acoustics, and so on.

So the differences are being addressed, but maybe not the similarities. What similarities?

All the apparently different fields of acoustics referred to above have very much in common. We can find the same musicians, students, teachers and directors in all the situations mentioned, playing and listening to the same piece of music. And we expect some consistency as to what is considered preferred acoustics as we move from the small practice room, via the orchestra rehearsal room to the concert hall stage, and on to the auditorium. We expect that the preferred acoustics for one ensemble playing in in one room have much in common with preferred acoustics for a slightly larger ensemble playing in a slightly larger room. Further, we expect that a musicians rehearsing in small rehearsal rooms need some of the same acoustic qualities as those on a concert hall stage. Opposite, conditions that make ensemble play difficult in a rehearsal room would also make ensemble play difficult on a concert hall stage. And so on.

For example, the loudness of sound from co-players we require during rehearsals should be consistent with the loudness of sound from co-players on stage in the performance space. Maybe not equal loudness, but still consistent. This means that any differences in loudness requirements should somehow be justified or explained.

We need a theory that can take care of the general consistency between the established special fields of room acoustics for music.

Current view in akuTEK Research is that the following topics are strongly related: stage acoustics, rehearsal rooms, performer’s perception, perceived reverberation. Stage acoustics and rehearsal room acoustics are important in order to develop musicians, orchestras and provide for good playng conditions—to the benefit of the listeners—and must be supported by knowledge of performer’s perception in general, and perceived reverberance in particular. Large room acoustics for big symphony orchestra is a special field in music room acoustics, namely Concert Hall Acoustics.

Musicians’ preference for practice room acoustics and stage acoustics becomes easier to explain if we instead of demanding the practice room to provide acoustics for the soloist similar to concert hall podium acoustics, demand that the practice room acoustics simulate the sound of the ensemble on a concert hall stage. For example, the violinist playing in a small practice room, e.g. example C above, plays along with her own image sources. This view is especially relevant in the ’hard case’ (see below), where the absorbing ceiling and reflecting walls allowing only the horizontal image sources to ‘play’.

Solo play response should not be confused with ensemble response

Ensemble Acoustics and acoustics for solo play is not generally the same. Acousticians judging every hall by singing, shouting, clapping their hands, or assessing impulse response measurements, should keep in mind that they actually judge the acoustic conditions for a solo musical performer. To judge ensemble performer conditions, impulse responses must be analysed with experience or by methods taking the difference between soloist acoustics and ensemble acoustics into account.

Relevant paper: Music Room Acoustics - Critical parameters

Relevant link: Ensemble Acoustics

External link: Music Room Acoustics 1977 (6.3MB)





To be continued

First published 26.02.2012, latest change 25.10.2018

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