Thursday, December 29, 2016

Ancient resonance recreated

A team of Stanford University scientists and the vocal ensemble Capella Romana recreate the sound of liturgical music in Hagia Sophia, the mother church of Orthodox Christianity in Byzantine Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), converted to a mosque after the Ottoman Turks conquered the city in 1453 and turned into a museum in 1935.

The vast interior of the structure, consecrated in 537 A.D. and for nearly 1,000 years the largest church in the Christian world, has unique acoustics. Sounds reverberate for nearly 11 seconds, four or five times longer than in most concert halls.

For a recent performance at Stanford, Capella Romana’s singers wore headphones to hear a simulation of the sanctuary’s acoustics; their voices were then put through the same audio simulator in the concert hall, giving listeners the sensation of hearing the program of early Christian music in Hagia Sophia.

Kat Eschner reports on the project, with a video-audio link, on