Author Archive | Christopher Blair

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Orchestral Acoustics 102: Orchestra vs. Hall

In a recent blog post, Washington Post music critic, Ann Midgette, posed questions concerning: what influence a hall’s acoustic response has on orchestral performance technique, and what effect the 1997 renovation of the Kennedy Center Concert Hall had in improving acoustics onstage and in the audience. In response to the first, I can report conclusively that orchestras have great flexibility in adapting their playing to different environments. I offer a few anecdotal observations here supporting this contention and also comment on the effect of recent acoustical adjustments at Kennedy Center Concert Hall… […]

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Orchestral Acoustics 101: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Orchestral Acoustics 101: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Christopher Blair – full time acoustician, part-time conductor,  last time blogger. We come to Friday and the end of Drew’s absence from these pages. I have really enjoyed my time here (Thanks, Drew for providing this forum!) and look forward to possible future exchanges. This being my last day, I thought I’d try something different by offering a series of short thoughts, one or more of which might spark some interaction from the readers.  These will range from discussing acoustical misconceptions to the difference between acoustic measurements and what we hear.  And, […]

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Orchestral Acoustics 101: Avery Fisher Hall

What went wrong, and how to fix it Christopher Blair –  full time acoustician, part-time conductor,  3rd time blogger. “For me the evening can’t end soon enough. I head back to my hotel with a splitting headache triggered by the blare of the orchestra and that spot in the Mahler where a percussionist strikes a rail with a sledgehammer….There’s enough blame to go around, of course, but by now I’ve become a convenient scapegoat. My dream of a great hall and my reputation as an acoustician both appear to be going up […]

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Orchestral Acoustics 101: Vineyard vs. Shoebox

Are visual intimacy and sonic-envelopment mutually exclusive? Christopher Blair –  full time acoustician, part-time conductor, 2nd time blogger. Following up on our previous discussion of acoustic conditions for orchestral players, comes a discussion of the two most popular ways of arraying the audience for concerts, along with the acoustical and visual advantages and disadvantages typically encountered in each.  The question for today’s exploration is how many of these positive and negative attributes are hard-wired into these configuration options, or might there be a ”middle-way” that can achieve the best of both worlds? […]

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