Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Science and Church Acoustics

This interesting but finally unsatisfying article in Wired reports on some recent "scientific" investigations on Church acoustics and what people find satisfying. They compared old and new church buildings. They set up dummies to record responses. "Over a three- to four-hour period, the dummy sat in about 10 different pews while it 'listened' to songs including the overture from Le Nozze di Figaro and the Gregorian chant Pange Lingua."

"Preliminary findings suggest listeners prefer sounds from paleo-Christian churches with their insulating wooden ceilings. Baroque buildings, with their heavy stucco decorations and contained spaces, were also right on key. Cavernous Gothic buildings fared worst: Bologna's San Petronio Basilica, about 430 feet long, was a listener's nightmare with 12 to 13 seconds of reverberation."

But what about contemporary churches? The article drops the ball.

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