Music History

Acoustics and concert halls: How it all comes together.

Back in 2012, Talking Heads man David Byrne wrote a book called How Music Works and in it, he discusses how architecture can affect how music is composed and performed. For example, he makes some fascinating observations of how the layout of CBGB contributed to the sound and perception of New York punk in the 1970s.

A site called Invaluable takes things even further by examining the acoustics of the world’s great concert halls.

Scientific studies reveal that the emotional impact of a listener is greatly affected by the acoustics of a concert hall. This is why sound engineers, architects, and acoustic consultants work together to create not only a visually stunning performance hall, but also one that reflects sound in such a way that concertgoers cannot contain their amazement. There are various concert halls across the globe that do a spectacular job at this. Some of which, such as MusikVerein in Vienna and Concertgebouw in Amsterdam were created before scientific theories on sound were even established, though it’s clear their designers relied on intuition, and the longstanding cultural and historical significance of their being is enough to draw music enthusiasts near and far. Invaluable created a neat visual that looks into the acoustics of some of the world’s more renowned concert halls, and why you should pay a visit if ever given the chance.

“From symphony orchestras to classical concerts, avid music enthusiasts travel near and far to see their favorite musicians perform on enchanting stages across the globe, many of which are housed in grandiose concert halls with architectural styles that reflect a range of time periods. Much of the excitement from a live performance is derived from the audience’s connection with the sounds they hear. In fact, research from Aalto University in Finland found that the emotional impact experienced by music listeners depends on a concert hall’s acoustics, but delivering an unrivaled acoustic experience is no easy feat.

“To achieve the balance between optimal acoustics and architectural splendor, architects, sound engineers, and acoustic consultants are together tasked with building an aesthetically impressive structure as well as one that reflects noise in a way that elicits a strong, emotional response. Here, we uncover the acoustics behind some of the most renowned concert halls, many of which were constructed well before scientific theories on sound were established.”

Check out this graphic from

acoustics of music concert halls

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38300 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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