Atmosphere not Acoustics

Anyone who has been to one of the main programmes of the BBC Proms will be aware of the desperate acoustical situation in the Royal Albert Hall. Singers, particularly, suffer in its cavernous, echoing environs. This matters little to Tom Service, however, who, in an interesting little post on the merits of acoustics versus atmosphere, comes down on the side of the latter:

Acoustics are not the same thing as atmosphere. If the live experience were just about the way things sounded, the only places really worth hearing an orchestra would be the Musikverein in Vienna and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. And yet for my money, the best place to experience an orchestral concert in this country, and quite possibly the world, is the Royal Albert Hall. Contradictory? Not really: a space is not defined by the science of how it sounds, but by its audience, by their quality of listening and attention.

Published on 29 August 2012

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