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Orianna2000
07-09-2012, 11:51 PM
If someone in the 1880s bought a manor house from the early 19th century and wanted to choose one of the rooms to be their music room (used for playing musical instruments and for singing) what elements would they look for? Should the room be small or large? Stone walls or wood paneling? Lots of rugs on the floor, or bare wood floors? Would large windows be a benefit or a downside? Does it make a difference whether the room is on the ground floor or upstairs?

I can adjust the room's description as necessary, but I haven't a clue what the requirements might be.

onesecondglance
07-10-2012, 01:15 AM
I'm not an acoustician - but I'd guess they weren't either, in the 1880s. A reasonably large, room with neither a particularly high nor particularly low ceiling, without too many absorbing surfaces (so not too many fabrics) would be about as far as you could go without modern knowledge of sound.

Orianna2000
07-10-2012, 01:32 AM
My (admittedly brief) research indicates that great strides in acoustics took place in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Theory of Sound was published in 1877, so my guess would be that they probably had a fairly good grasp of acoustics in 1881. They wouldn't have had modern technologies, of course, but all I need is for them to choose the best possible room for playing the piano and singing. :)

In any case, a large room with as little upholstery as possible? Would windows make a difference? Or the type of walls and floor? (wood vs. stone vs. plaster, etc.)

Buffysquirrel
07-10-2012, 04:47 AM
Heck, the ROMANS built ampitheatres where you could hear clearly at the back.

espresso5
07-10-2012, 06:54 AM
Is the primary purpose of this room strictly the quality of music, or does the ability to play with minimal disturbance to other people in the house have any weight in the decision?
If it's only the quality of music, then I'm guessing location in the house wouldn't matter so much, but wood panelling would probably be better than stone and strategically aranged carpet could act as baffles. Larger is probably better than small. I'm assuming windows would be a downside, since every auditorium and theater I've ever been in has been windowless.

onesecondglance
07-10-2012, 01:32 PM
Perhaps I should have phrased that better - I'm saying that it's hard enough these days to find an architect with a decent knowledge of acoustics, so what are the chances of them spending serious time designing a room or even thinking about it?

I mean, it's not like they have sine generators to try and spot errant room modes. So it would be broad stroke stuff. I'm more than willing to accept the idea of a music room in a house, but the cynic in me believes it would be chosen on convenience rather than a detailed appraisal of sonic characteristics.

Buffy - that's a good point, but amphitheatres mimic natural structures in a way an interior room cannot.

Orianna2000
07-10-2012, 03:51 PM
Is the primary purpose of this room strictly the quality of music, or does the ability to play with minimal disturbance to other people in the house have any weight in the decision?

Everyone in the house is a musician, so they don't mind hearing the music/singing. Quality is of the highest concern.


Perhaps I should have phrased that better - I'm saying that it's hard enough these days to find an architect with a decent knowledge of acoustics, so what are the chances of them spending serious time designing a room or even thinking about it?


The guy who owns the house is a musical genius who dabbles in architecture in his spare time, so he could conceivably design the perfect music room and retrofit the house. I'm not taking it that far, though. Right now, it's simply a matter of his wife moving into the house and trying to decide which room to call their music room. She's an opera singer, so she knows a little something about music and acoustics, but for the most part, she's choosing the room based on size and how it sounds when she sings in it. Once the husband arrives, he can renovate the room however he likes.

onesecondglance
07-10-2012, 05:37 PM
The guy who owns the house is a musical genius who dabbles in architecture in his spare time, so he could conceivably design the perfect music room and retrofit the house. I'm not taking it that far, though. Right now, it's simply a matter of his wife moving into the house and trying to decide which room to call their music room. She's an opera singer, so she knows a little something about music and acoustics, but for the most part, she's choosing the room based on size and how it sounds when she sings in it. Once the husband arrives, he can renovate the room however he likes.

OK - you can ignore me then (if you hadn't already) :)

BardSkye
07-10-2012, 06:00 PM
I think she would be looking for high ceilings and hard surfaces, relatively large space but not the size of a ballroom. That combination will bounce the character's voice around to create overtones and make it sound terrific. If she's an opera singer, she'll have a good understanding of acoustics simply from experience.

Orianna2000
07-10-2012, 06:33 PM
Okay, thanks everyone!

BDSEmpire
07-11-2012, 01:21 PM
The best room I ever sang in was circular with a high ceiling and painted walls. The sound of our voices circled up into the heavens and bounced down at us and filled the room in a way we had never heard before. It was gorgeous and we have never sounded better.

The room was probably fifteen feet across at most with a very tall ceiling. It was meant for a string quartet or small choir. It was at a church in downtown Portland but I bet you could find a similar room in a mansion.

Orianna2000
07-11-2012, 03:51 PM
The best room I ever sang in was circular with a high ceiling and painted walls. The sound of our voices circled up into the heavens and bounced down at us and filled the room in a way we had never heard before. It was gorgeous and we have never sounded better.

The room was probably fifteen feet across at most with a very tall ceiling. It was meant for a string quartet or small choir. It was at a church in downtown Portland but I bet you could find a similar room in a mansion.

It's a 18th century manor house, so I'm not sure if any of the rooms would be round (I'd have to check blueprints to see if that's possible) but I can definitely give them a high ceiling and a smallish room. Thanks!

Siri Kirpal
07-11-2012, 10:20 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

You don't want the ceiling too low. That can be an acoustic fiasco.

I've seen a purpose-built music room in a Victorian mansion, designed by the owner who played piano. It had lots of stained glass windows on the long wall, was an elongated rectangle, had Lincrusta-Walton (sp?) on the ceiling, and (I think) carpets over hardwood floors.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Orianna2000
07-12-2012, 02:12 AM
Sounds interesting. Thanks!