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date: 25 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter shifts perspective from the history of architectural acoustics (as a branch of physics) to the history of architecture and practices of listening from around 1780 to 1830. In this period, operas, concerts, and spoken theater pieces, traditionally performed in the same venue, were increasingly regarded as separate genres, each related to a specific sonic reverberation time. As this chapter illustrates using acoustic data from major venues, this separation corresponded with ever-diverging concepts of acoustic design and the acoustic properties of new buildings. The shift occurred, first, because of the emergence of a bourgeois theater and music culture and, second, due to a fundamental epistemic shift in acoustic theory when sound reflection began to be thought of as a phenomenon related to energy, time, and building materials. The audience was conceived of as a group of genre-specific listening experts who paid attention to sound dying away over time.

Keywords: acoustics, audience composition, architecture, Berlin concert halls, science of listening, architectural acoustics, listening practices, Vienna concert halls

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