Opinion: Half of the reason to listen to choral works is the acoustics in the recording


As I was listening to KCSM ( I always want to call it KFC)  this morning I got a big dose of choral music and I thought to myself that for this particular type of music, the recording venue is at least half as important as the music if not more so.  Perhaps no other type of recorded music has so much of an implicit dependence on the original room acoustics, and therefore, demands our own listening environment be more receptive than average.


erik_squires
Something only an audiophile would say. For myself, I listen because I love the music. The acoustic of the recording venue can be additive or subtractive but is not, for me anyway,  a motivating factor. Like most other large scale music it pales in comparison to the real thing. You just have to be in the hall to appreciate it. Perhaps the acoustics in the recording can stimulate your imagination.

If your system is set up to handle large scale music in the first place why would an audiophile need to enhance a good recording by adjusting his room acoustic for choral music? Dammed if I know.
If your system is set up to handle large scale music in the first place why would an audiophile need to enhance a good recording by adjusting his room acoustic for choral music? Dammed if I know
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I’ll argue that if your room acoustics are poor, you can’t hear the acoustics in the recording, and that with well recorded choral music this can be transcendent.   As good as live? Never, but better than having poor room acoustics? Definitely.

Best,
E
Can we agree that at least most liturgical choral music was written with some anticipation of the acoustic in which it would be performed.  I have to say that something like the Tallis Scholars' recording of the Allegri Miserere would be a little less exquisite without the acoustic effects.

@erik_squires and @newbee   This makes for interesting and perhaps provocative reading.
https://cappellaromana.org/product/lost-voices-of-hagia-sophia-medieval-byzantine-chant/
2L for some of the absolute best....
twoleftears, We can agree and I do. The most anticipated venue would have been a church I think. Maybe not so much for Mahler though. :-)

FWIW, Faure's requiem, the original version performed by the Ensemble Musique Oblique and conducted by Herreweghe in the La Chapelle Royal (Harmonia Mundi 901292) would be a great example of something done right. Lovely, contemplative music.
Interesting, "live virtual acoustics."

I used to own a sound card which had 3D acoustics features, and gaming was a huge amount of fun with it. CreativeLabs sued them into the ground, and this was long before Atmos, BTW.

This was more of the acoustics version of 3D graphics. Your ability to hear directly influenced your ability to detect enemies and avoid being killed in game. Shame that as far as I know this did not catch on as routine.

One of the really neat effects was acoustics in complex environments like mazes.  You can hear a lot lot more than you think you can about the space you are in. 

This is very different than Atmos, BTW.  AFAIK, Atmos and the DTS equivalent encode objects in your space, while the tech I remember was about encoding sounds in a non existant field.  If Atmos has the ability to encode reflective and absorptive objects which are not sound sources that would be news to me.

Best,
E

The @newbee recommendation is a real good one (as are many other Harmonia Mundi---both French and USA---recordings).

In your hunt for LP’s, keep a look out for any of those on the ARK Records label. ARK was loudspeaker designer Robert Fulton’s (FMI---Fulton Musical Industries. Did you ever hear his Model J, or even the Model 80? JGH gave them rave reviews) record company, releasing recordings he made of local Minnesota church choirs and organists (he captured the sound of pipe organs as few have, including that of the 32’ pipe, which produces a 16Hz tone!).

In addition to the exceedingly natural vocal timbre and performance venue acoustics Fulton captured on his Crown, his recordings have inner detail rarely heard: each individual voice in the complex choir tapestry can be heard. Genuine, true audiophile-quality recordings. Whether or not you like the music is a separate question

**** Can we agree that at least most liturgical choral music was written with some anticipation of the acoustic in which it would be performed. ****

And not only choral music; orchestral as well. Not the specific acoustic in either case. That would be too limiting, but certainly the type of acoustic; large performance spaces with at least decent clarity and reverberation. The great orchestral composers did and do orchestrate with the idea in mind that, heard from a distance, (audience) instrumental (and choral) sounds and specific combinations of instrumental sounds will blend in a particular way to create tonal colors that don’t manifest themselves heard up close. That is the main musical problem with up close multi micing.
Add organ music to that thought. And I guess that’s because organ and large-scale choral are meant to be heard in a Spacious sanctuary and benefit from all the reverberations of a big hall. But yeah, something that puts me in a vaulted space is part of it.
Harley
Fifth Edition
Chapter 12
p.325,6