9780393732559 198

The Acoustics of Performance Halls

Spaces for Music from Carnegie Hall to the Hollywood Bowl


J. Christopher Jaffe (Author)

With a Foreword by Leo L. Beranek

Our Retail Price:£37.00

Add to Basket


An acclaimed acoustician presents a proven methodology for designing successful venues for concert performance in a variety of building types.

Of all the problems posed by the art and science of acoustics, the design of concert halls is the most mysterious. Listeners, from music lovers to musicians, hear performances in halls of comparable dimensions and find differences in the quality of their listening experiences. Why do so many concert halls fail to live up to expectations?

In The Acoustics of Performance Halls J. Christopher Jaffe, an acclaimed acoustician known for his innovative design concepts, describes the common misconceptions about what makes a successful classical concert space, explains that sound reflections rather than geometry are the key to developing an outstanding hall, and shows how a series of simple principles related to how humans perceive musical quality can provide the ideal environment for classical music performances. Jaffe presents a proven methodology for designing successful venues for symphonic performance in a variety of building types, including concert halls, music pavilions, multiuse theaters, and amphitheaters, using a fact-based approach that relies on matching subjective values to quantitative measurements, an awareness of a community’s musical memory, and extensive practical experience working with orchestras. Case studies illustrate the acoustic design of facilities designed for the presentation of symphonic music as well as those that were designed for other activities but through necessity or innovation are used for this purpose. An invaluable resource as a large-scale troubleshooting manual, this book should be required reading not only for acousticians but also for concert administrators, concert division directors, and operations managers, as well as theater consultants, architectural firms, and construction companies.


“I am heartened in knowing that there are a few—a very few—like [Jaffe] who know enough about acoustics to care about the sound from a musician’s point of view, and to look for that intangible magic and warmth that really makes for a great hall and an additional instrument for us to work with in performance.” — Isaac Stern, violinist, December 15, 1984

“Thank you for the extraordinary work you did on transforming the sound of the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. It is truly a room in which all Americans can enjoy music under ideal conditions. Your professionalism, hard work, and good sense have blessed us with one of the finest halls in America.” — Lawerence Wilker, president emeritus of the John F. Kennedy Center

“The best new hall that I know of is the one built for the University of New Mexico by Christopher Jaffe, which Munich might do well to emulate.” — Lorin Maazel, Music Director Emeritus, Cleveland Orchestra-New York Philharmonic Orchestra

“Possessing a wonderful acoustical equilibrium, Bass Performance Hall is one of those in which music heard by the audience is the same as that heard by the performer. The clarity of sound heard throughout the entire range, in addition to the warm and welcoming environment, makes Bass Hall one of the finest halls.” — Yo Yo Ma, cellist, October 10, 2000

“[A]ll you ever wanted to know about sound but were afraid to ask….this lavishly illustrated book should interest not only technicians buy anyone who ever turned to his neighbor and said ‘Can you hear the violins? I can’t.’” — The Norwalk Hour

“[A] handsome book….copiously illustrated….an entertaining overview with much useful information.” — Musical America

“[A] thoroughly enjoyable, informative, and entertaining treatment of spaces for performance, a review of some of their major afflictions, and a compact guide to a wide array of successes.” — The BAS Speaker (Official Publication of the Boston Audio Society)