The importance of hall shape

Jonathan Brett Information 1 Comment

Music does not exist is isolation from its surroundings, the building in which it is heard is a key part of the experience. I find it fascinating that, although our understanding of every aspect of design has surely increased hugely over time, the halls most beloved of both performers and audiences are generally old ones.  Not just any old ones, usually they are rectangular spaces with flat-floored (or nearly flat) auditorium.

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Watford Town Hall – beloved by UK musicians and my favourite UK hall  – before its recent renovation

To those who make comments about such halls as “if only we could see better it would be perfect” I have always pointed out that this makes the assumption that changing the visual situation would have no detrimental impact on the sound.  Now it seems there is some scientific basis for thinking that rectangular halls give more emotional impact to musical performance, hence a clear indication that the the preference of those who place the value of sound quality above that of sight-lines and proximity may be based upon more than prejudice.

What do you think?

Click here for the full article from  The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

Click here for a summary of the article and discussion on Norman Lebrecht’s Slipped Disc.

 

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  1. Results of the research don’t surprise me but it’s good to add that it should be the *correct* kind of rectangle. Those who know the concert hall in Gdansk will know what I mean.

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