Best Concert Venues Are Shaped Like A Shoe Box

There are many great concert venues and auditoriums in the world. But which are best? The Albert Hall? Sydney Opera House? Everyone will have his or her own opinion.

A big influence is the shape, it seems from a new study. Research has revealed that concert halls in the shape of a shoe box help create the most emotional music.

A study published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America has found that concert halls with the rectangular design, like the Vienna Musikverein or Berlin Konzerthaus, are most likely to produce sounds that elicit an emotional response (examples quoted include making the hairs on the back of the audience’s neck stand up).

This means established venues in London, like Royal Festival Hall, Royal Albert Hall and the Barbican, don’t meet the grade.

The study was led by Dr Jukka Patynen, of Aalto University, Finland, who told The Daily Telegraph:

“Some interpretations of the same music piece can evoke stronger emotions than others.”

For ‘interpretation’, the researcher found, not only related to tightness of the orchestra but to the shape and feel of the concert venue.

The study was based on a range of test subjects, aged between, 22 to 64, listening to Beethoven’s Symphony No 7 in different venues of different shapes, and then rating their emotional responses to the music. The same recording was used in each venue.

The research paper is titled “Concert halls with strong and lateral sound increase the emotional impact of orchestra music”, and it can be read for free on-line.

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.