A bridge between tech and art

Music is largely based on physical media, like the physics of musical instrument, acoustics of spaces and our auditory system. My ambition during the last years have been to make the understanding and relevance of the physical aspects of music more accessible for everyone involved with music. The reason for that is that I think a common understand of the basic principle of sound and acoustics can make communication between musicians, sound engineers and acousticians more effect. Through effective communication we can better work together to explore and design new exciting solutions for the world of music.

One background for this point of view is my PhD project, where I was eager to listen to the musicians’ point of view regarding acoustics for orchestras. This input contributed largely to the approach and the results for this project! I think acousticians can have a lot to learn by chatting with musicians, but it requires a common language and mutual respect for the other part’s point of view (also see my PhD project results summary). I think some basic insight  into acoustics can make it easier for musicians and sound engineers to have their experiences and opinions being relevant and heard when for instance acoustic spaces are planned. After my PhD project I’ve been teaching acoustics for sound engineer students, which has been very exciting. I’ve produced some literature aiming at providing a basic understand of acoustics for music (at NISS). This literature is unfortunately so far only in Norwegian, but is freely available (see my post below).

I have been considering at some point writing a brief book covering the basic principles for acoustic spaces and sound systems (in English), which are relevant in practical situations.  Or make some brief resources and discussion available on this page. My initial questions are:

  • How technical should such a book/resources be? Would it be better to present relations and discussions rather that being bugged down in being quantifying matters? Or maybe a combination?
  • What are musicians and sound engineers actually curious to learn more about regarding acoustics? What are the main “mysteries”?

What are your thoughts?

Your input on my questions are most welcome, please comment below. Having some discussion on the need, form and content for such a book would be great!

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3 responses to “A bridge between tech and art”

  1. niels w. adelman-larsen says :

    Hey JJ – thanks for posting the material. As you know I was asked by Springer to write a book on that topic so I would imagine there is a need for it – although maybe not so huge. It will actually be released pretty soon and I really appreciate the section in the book that you wrote. From my 15 years in the business as a drummer I came to the conclusion that both a quantification of recommendable acoustics as well as some qualitative insights are relevant for acousticians as well as sound engineers and musicians. I think what many people miss at first is the completely dominating factor of the time-parameter of acoustics … But also that acoustics for amplified music (in halls larger than clubs) is largely independant of how the room “amplifies” certain frequencies – all that is compensated for by turning knobs and sliding faders… There is a desire for the correct decay of sound in time at different frequency bands (that will lead to a high enough “rock intelligibility” on one hand, as well as a sense of “togetherness” at the social event and possibility of artistic expression on the other hand).
    Talk soon – Peace
    niels w- adelman-larsen

    • Jens Jørgen Dammerud says :

      Hey Niels – thanks for your comment.

      Maybe your book will fullfil my intentions, I really look forward to read it! I think it is very valuable for the progress within room acoustics that people like you, with background in music and lots of practical experience, get a theoretical understand of acoustics and have your own opinions about acoustic solutions. And you actually manage to write a book about it, which is really great. I’ll add some information about it when it is out for sale.

      Cheers, JJ

      • niels w. adelman-larsen says :

        Yes indeed physics is a way of describing nature – in this case sound in rooms for a specific use. I am clearly not as theoretically minded as you, but did do a bachelor in mechanical engineering with a thesis on acoustics before my carrer in music – so I knew the acoustical reason why spaces sounded different. The recommendations in my book are not mine but gathered from a lot of musicians and sound enigneers – how they felt about playing different halls. And they are for instance used in the soon-to-come standards for Norwegian halls for amplified music. Too many concerts in bad sounding spaces aslo urged me to come up with a couple of solutions that can fix problems in halls where amplified music is played. True: I am a musician at heart 🙂 I will forward you some more chapters for you to proofread – always good with a second opinion.

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