Christopher Blair on stage acoustics

At the time my PhD thesis was completed Christopher Blair, both an acoustician and conductor, gave his views on acoustic conditions for symphony orchestra on a blog posting on the Adaptistration web site. Several other interesting blog postings by Blair are also available on this web site. I was unaware of his posting on acoustics for orchestras when I completed my thesis, so it appears that Blair’s views on beneficial conditions for an orchestra are independent from the results in covered in my thesis.

In the blog posting referred to above Blair writes: “The art of designing good on-stage acoustics boils down to providing just enough early energy to help with coordination, but not so much as to mask audibility of the late-energy room response.” This is in very good agreement with the conclusions from my PhD thesis: the main purpose of early reflections back to the orchestra was found to an effective compensation for low direct sound level within the orchestra. Additionally, the most popular venues covered in our research project had a certain balance between early and late acoustic response on stage (C80), as well as a certain level of the late acoustic response in the main auditorium (Glate).

Blair has previously written about the importance of reflections from the main auditorium reaching the stage, in the Journal of the Conductors Guild, Vol. 19, No. 2, 1998. In this article (unfortunately not freely available) the relevance of perceptual masking effects for perceived conditions is described, along with a study of plan and section drawing for a set of existing symphony orchestra venues. For popular stages there are identified reflections from the back section of the auditorium that reach the stage with delay(s) within typically 100–300 milliseconds. Unfortunately this article was not included in the literature review of my PhD thesis, but the conclusions in this article are also similar to my conclusions.

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