Architectural Acoustics and Music

In collaboration with the University of Florida School of Music, the School of Architecture conducted a real time acoustical experiment at the UF Music Building on September 14.

The objective was to evaluate the effects of different room configurations (with or without drapes) on occupants’ sound perception of various musical instruments.

“This event was planned to help architecture students better understand the relationship between architectural acoustics and music,” UF School of Architecture Assistant Professor Ryan Sharston stated. “The experiment involved musical performances using multiple instruments and evaluating sound perceptions by the audience.”

Participants answered a short questionnaire, evaluating their perception on how each instrument sounded under various room configurations.

Performers from the UF School of Music played multiple instruments, including bass clarinet, guitar, snare drum and violin. Each performer played an identical piece three times for one minute each. The three performances were under different configurations. The first was played with no drapes covering the room’s walls, the second with half of the walls covered and the third with all the walls covered.

“The audience answered multiple choice questions every time the room setup was changed and expressed their sound perception of the music,” Sharston explained. “The questions asked how reverberant, powerful, clear and homogenous the audience perceived the sound to be given different room setups.”

Using the scale of one to five (one being the least reverberant, powerful, clear or homogenous and five being the most), the occupants qualitatively assessed their sound perception.

In addition to the students, music experts from the School of Music also participated in the experiment to provide their expert opinion of the sound perception.

The audience was also asked to indicate the best combination of instrument and room configuration as well as their overall best musical quality experience.

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