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Open Access The Influence of Room Acoustics on Solo Music Performance: An Empirical Case Study

Since the room acoustical environment has a great influence on the auditory impression of music for both audience and performers, it can be expected that musicians adjust their way of playing to the concert hall acoustics. This interdependence, frequently described by music scholars and performers, was empirically investigated for the first time under professional concert conditions. The renowned cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras was recorded during his performances of the six Suites for Violoncello Solo by Johann Sebastian Bach in seven acoustically different concert halls. Using a software-based analysis, seven performance attributes were extracted from the recordings. To determine the acoustical properties of the concert halls, measurements according to ISO 3382-1 were conducted on the stages and in the auditoria and typical acoustical parameters were calculated. Computer models of the seven halls allowed for a reconstruction of the acoustical conditions during the concerts by simulating a sound source with the directivity of a cello as well as the occupied state of the auditoria. By means of a hierarchical linear model, the influence of room acoustics on music performance was investigated in detail. Despite the numerous other external factors present in the real-world concert situations, more than half of the variance of the performance features could be explained by room acoustical parameters, providing evidence of their significant impact on the performance of music.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2013

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