RESEARCH SUMMARY DETAIL

User Assessment and Concert Hall Acoustics

Author's Title: The Acoustics of Concert Halls Through a Subjective Evaluation
Author(s) Name: Satya Pancharatnam and A. Ramachandraiah
Year of Publication: 2005
Search Related Keywords: Acoustics  Client/User Interviews   Code Requirements/Regulations/Standards and Analysis  Concert Theater  Elements of Design  Post-Occupancy Evaluations (POE)  Preference/Attitude  Research/Research Methods  Sensory Responses  Visitor/Spectator  Visual Display/Presentation 

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Design Issue
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This study investigated the physical and acoustical preferences of regular concert attendees for Carnatic (classical South Indian) music concert halls in Chennai, India.
  • Understanding preferences of acoustics and how subjective methods work as acoustical diagnostic instruments at concert halls may be a guide to future acoustical studies.
  • There is a lack of research on acoustics of concert halls for Carnatic music.
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Design Criteria
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Author Identified:
  • Consider surveying regular concert attendees during the design of music halls, as regular concert attendees may be reliable and effective judges of concert hall acoustics and surveys may be sufficient instruments for rating concert halls.
  • Be aware that clarity, liveliness, and definition may be preferred acoustic qualities for Carnatic music and that a lower Reverberation Time (i.e., 1.3 to 1.6 seconds) may provide for this quality.
  • Be aware that the ability to see the performer may be important to most regular concert attendees.
  • Be aware that most concert attendees may prefer a venue specifically designed for Carnatic music.


InformeDesign Identified:
  • Consult an acoustic expert when designing concert halls.
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Key Concepts
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  • Carnatic music is the classical music of South India. It is melody-based and emphasizes key, melody, rhythm, and composition. Vocal expression is a principal element of most Carnatic compositions, which are improvised at performance and performed in a way that the vocalist and each instrumentalist are heard individually.
  • Most regular concert attendees (64.86%) reported that the success of a concert was dependent partly on the acoustics of the hall and partly on the performer while fewer (27.73%) responded that success of a concert was based solely on the performer.
  • Regular concert attendants preferred seats that were center and right (34.05%) and center and left (31.74%). Sound quality preferences for classical music were clear (79.58%) and lively (51.23%). Most respondents (60.55%) preferred a medium-sized hall over a small hall (21.87%). Most respondents (73.18%) preferred being able to see the performer.
  • The mid-frequency Reverberation Time for the six most highly-ranked halls was approximately 1.3 to 1.6 seconds. The most-preferred concert hall was rectangular with stepped parallel walls, which may support preferred acoustic levels for Carnatic music.
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Research Method
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  • A pilot survey was administered to a nonrandom sample comprised of regular concert attendees (e.g., performers, music critics, students, music teachers).
  • A random sample of regular concert attendees (1,298; 57.47% males, 56 years of age or older) consisting primarily of music lovers (79.35%) and students of music (11.17%) was used for the main survey to rank the preferences and acoustics for concert halls (22) in Chennai, India.
  • surveys were distributed at the concert halls. Questions collected data on demographic information, musical experience, preferences for physical features of concert halls (e.g., favorite seating, ideal hall size, importance of the ability to see the performer), acoustic quality, and best- and worst-suited halls for music concerts.
  • Reverberation Time was measured in the six best concert halls when they were unoccupied.
  • descriptive statistics and correlation coefficients were used to analyze the data.
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Limitations
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  • The authors did not identify any limitations.
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Commentary
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The findings may not be generalizable to other types of music or other cultures. The survey instrument and a review of literature about concert hall and opera house acoustics were included. This study is part of ongoing research on concert hall geometry and acoustics.

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Adapted From
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Author(s): Satya Pancharatnam, M.Arch, research scholar and A. Ramachandraiah, associate professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India
Article Title: The Acoustics of Concert Halls Through a Subjective Evaluation
Publisher: Locke Science Publishing Company, Inc.
Publication: Journal of Architectural and Planning Research
Publication Type: Refereed Journal
Date of Publication: 2005
ISSN: 0738-0895
Volume: 22
Issue: 1
Pages: 16-29