Assessing the Acoustic Performance of Small Music Rooms: A Short Introduction


in The Music Room in Early Modern France and Italy

Published by British Academy

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780197265055
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754166 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Assessing the Acoustic Performance of Small Music Rooms: A Short Introduction

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The performance of music in early modern French and Italian music rooms typically created an aural impression of ‘Intimacy’ and ‘Clarity’ whereby the individual instruments could clearly be perceived spatially. These qualities arise from the close proximity of the audience to the performers and the acoustic characteristics generated by the room geometry. Generally, the rooms were rectangular with high ceilings, between 4 and 8 metres, with volumes between 200 and 1000 cubic metres. Such rooms, when occupied, have moderate reverberance, which helps maintain the individuality of separate voices. The size and volume also give rise to short-delay reflections from the walls and ceiling, which enhance ‘Clarity’, ‘Intimacy’ and ‘Envelopment’. The acoustic characteristics of these rooms will be discussed in terms of current subjective and objective parameters developed for assessing concert venues.

Keywords: acoustics; musical performance; clarity; intimacy; envelopment; ceilings; music rooms

Chapter.  900 words. 

Subjects: Opera

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