When designing concert halls and theaters, providing excellent stage environments is an acoustic challenge. For centuries, acousticians have been focusing on the acoustics in the hall from an audience point of view. The past decades, also the importance of acoustic comfort for musicians on the stage is recognized. Good stage acoustics is important for the orchestra to easily play together and to avoid hearing damage caused by excessively high sound pressure levels.
Up to 74% of the professional musicians suffer from hearing disorders, which is a major health problem. So far, few solutions have proven valid that can prevent hearing damage to musicians and at the same time improve the ease of playing together by orchestra members. Moreover, just a few satisfying correlations have been found between the musician’s judgment of stage environments and stage acoustic parameters. To be able to better understand the musicians’ demands for acoustic comfort on stage more research is necessary.
The aim of this project is to improve the objective measurement and prediction methods to assess the influence of architectural measures on stage acoustic parameters and musicians’ noise exposure. For the first time, the influence of the orchestra is taken into account. The final result is a measurement and prediction method as well as guidelines that can be used by researchers and engineers when designing stage environments. The final goal is to improve acoustic comfort for musicians in concert halls and theaters from a musical as well as a health point of view.
On this website you can download the research thesis, research papers and find other background information.
Eindhoven University of Technology
Sound levels at musicians’ ears in the symphony orchestra
The sound exposure of orchestral musicians has been calculated using an acoustic prediction model. The model calculates the equivalent sound levels for a performance of the first 2 minutes of Mahler’s 1st symphony part 4, which can be considered representative for loud orchestral music. The video shows the sound level in dB(A) with a 40 ms interval. What can be observed is that the active musicians receive the highest levels (it almost looks like the video shows source levels, but it actually shows receiving levels). This means that, even though the whole orchestra produces a relatively high sound level at all positions, the own instrument’s contribution is large. This makes measures that aim to control sound exposure very ineffective (see chapter 7 of the thesis).