Title means "Quietness", "Comfortable Sound" and "Excellent Acoustics"

Nagata Acoustics News 98-3iNo.123j
Issued : March 25, 1998

Improving Acoustics for Organ Space

by Dr. Minoru Nagata

<< A Look at the Shinjo Opthamology Institute's Hall and the Miyazaki Lutheran Church >>

Shinjo Opthamology Institute's Hall
Miyazaki Lutheran Church
As I mentioned in a September 1997 article here about our work to improve the acoustics of the Matsuyama Church organ, improving organ acoustics has recently become a significant focus of Nagata Acoustics' projects. Two of these projects are the Shinjo Opthamology Institute's third floor hall and the sanctuary of Miyazaki Lutheran Church, both in Miyazaki City, Miyazaki Prefecture.

Nagata Acoustics owes its involvement in these two renovation projects to the kind intervention of organist Junko Nishio, whose teaching studio is located on the premises of the Shinjo Institute. If organ music and Opthamology seem an unlikely combination, the musical patronage of the Shinjo Institute's headmistress, Dr. Utako Shinjo, explains how an organ studio and an Opthamology school co-exist under one roof. In fact, on the third floor of the institute's building, Dr. Shinjo has sponsored not only Ms. Nishio's organ studio, but a choral workshop, reed organ training, and electric organ lessons as well.

<< Making the Shinjo Institute Organ Ready >>

Installing a pipe organ in the Shinjo Institute's modest setting was the longtime dream of Ms. Nishio. Once she obtained the support of Headmistress Shinjo, the installation of the pipe organ quickly became reality.

I first visited the Shinjo Institute, at Dr. Shinjo's request, in November 1996. With one side of the third floor hall made of gently curved glass, and a ceiling height of 2.4 meters, the dead quality of this multipurpose space was exacerbated by absorptive porous wood paneling, extending from the ceiling down to about waist-height, on all the walls, and a ceiling covered with a stone-like absorptive material called ganban.

Our renovation strategy involved two simple construction changes: removing the ceiling's ganban to expose the concrete above it; and replacing the walls' wood paneling with 12mm double-layered gypsum board. This work was quickly completed by January 1997.

Ms. Nishio selected a Klop organ for the new facility. Klop is a Dutch organ manufacturer specializing exclusively in house organs. The selected organ is an elegant instrument with 11 stops. Its distinguishing feature of this organ is that all of the pipes are fabricated of wood, producing an instrument with marvelously gentle tone color. However, because this organ exemplifies the characteristics of a house organ, I find that it is not quite strong enough to hold its own when used to accompany a chorus.

<< Our Miyazaki Lutheran Church Organ Makeover >>

No sooner did we complete our work for the Shinjo Institute than Ms. Shinjo prevailed upon the Miyazaki Lutheran Church -- of which she is a member -- to install an organ in its sanctuary. Ms. Nishio was again called upon to select the organ, a 7-stop instrument by the Swiss organ maker Edskes.

When we first surveyed the Miyazaki Lutheran Church building, this wood-frame and mortar structure, built in the late 1950s or early 1960s, was badly in need of repair and the congregation was already planning both to add living quarters for its minister and to renovate the sanctuary. As soon as the congregation decided to add a pipe organ, the renovations to the sanctuary became focused on creating an appropriate space to house, play, and listen to the pipe organ. The entire inside of the sanctuary was gutted and every part of the interior, including the entire flooring, walls, and ceilings were re-installed according to our specifications. For the ceiling and walls we chose a finish of 12 mm double-layered gypsum board.

The church sanctuary construction was completed well before the end of 1997, and the congregation became determined to celebrate Christmas with live organ music in their new surroundings. The Eskes organ, however, would not be ready until the autumn 1998. In order to meet the Christmas deadline, therefore, we sought an organ to rent. Luckily, the Japanese organ maker, Mana Orguebaugh, of Machida-shi, Tokyo, had the pieces of an instrument already built and just waiting to be assembled. A one-year lease was negotiated and this instrument has been providing the soulful enjoyment of live organ music in this religious sanctuary in the south of Japan since Christmas-time.

<< The Acoustical Measurements>>

At the end of 1997, Nagata Acoustics measured the reverberation times in both new Miyazaki City facilities. For each facility, we recorded a reverberation time of one second, and an average absorption rate of 13%.

A Visit to the Cologne Philharmony

by Keiji Oguchi

Cologne Philharmony
Following my last month's comments on Vancouver's Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, at the University of British Columbia, this month I will share my impressions of a European hall, the Cologne Philharmony. This hall is part of a building complex situated on a strip of uneven land wedged between the Cologne cathedral and the Rhine; the complex houses two art musuems as well as the concert hall. The concert hall portion is built below ground level, so that, from the outside, it does not look at all like the large, 2,000-seat concert hall that it is.

On entering the hall, my first surprise was the generous size of the foyer. Next, I noticed that there is a separate and spacious coat-check facility on each floor of the hall, perhaps in deference to Cologne's cold winters and the audience's propensity for bulky coats.

The floor plan of the interior of the hall is circular, with the conductor's position at the very center and the audience seating placed concentrically outward from this nucleus. The seating area slopes rather steeply, so that the fourth row from the front is already level with the stage, and there are three tiers of seating behind the stage. It was explained to me that the hall design drew its inspiration from the ancient Greek theaters-in-the-round.

The hall's expansive seating area extends across 60 meters and is divided into three sections. The side seating is situated at elevated heights so as to create reflection surfaces within the audience area. In keeping with the hall's floor plan and seating arrangement, both the stage and the orchestra's risers are also circular in shape. I was told that the stage is actually at a height that is virtually level with the riverbed of the Rhine River that flows nearby.

The rear of the stage has been finished with partitioned convex surfaces, as has the wall in front of the seating that rises above the rear of the stage. This prevents sound from concentrating here by reflecting it back to the main audience seating.

The ceiling covering the audience seating area is flatly horizontal; steel beams that support the roof and are set in a radiating pattern are visible to the eye. Indirect blue lighting that shines down towards the audience and upwards towards the ceiling impressed me with its beauty. The ceiling above the stage is made of glass and doubles as a reflection panel. It is attractively lit up to glow in a dramatic orange color.

Three orchestras share this hall as their home base, including the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra. When guest performances are included, the hall's annual schedule is said to have 400 concerts. On the day that I visited the hall, the Cologne Philharmonic Orchestra was scheduled to perform, and I had the opportunity to attend the performance. I was not familiar with this orchestra prior to visiting Cologne, but I did recognize the Oboe player, Mr. Holch, who performs oboe for Japan's Mito Chamber Music Ensemble as well.

I listened to the first half of the concert from a seat in the fourth row at stage left. The steep incline of the seating area enabled me to see the entire stage clearly, but unfortunately, my ears did not receive the same perfect "view." Acoustically, this seat left something to be desired as the sound was not well balanced. The tone color of the strings was sharp and the contrabass sounded somewhat boomy. As I had just attended a concert at the Vienna Musikverein the previous day, I was especially perturbed by the difference in tone colors that I experienced at the Cologne Philharmonic Hall from those at the Musikverein. I should, however, qualify my comparison of these two halls by adding that my seat at the Musikverein was under an overhang and also lacking in balance.

The second half of the Cologne Philharmoniker concert was Holst's "The Planets." I listened to this performance from a center seat towards the rear of the audience. From this seat, the music sounded farther away than it seemed visually and the sound of the strings was weak. While I understand that the reverberation time is a long 2 seconds with a full house, I did not have a sense of being enveloped in the music. In my opinion, this impression is due to the fact that the only surfaces for creating early reflections in this hall are th ose of the ceiling; additional wall surfaces to augment the early reflections would add to the overall acoustical impact of performances in this hall.

New CD Release Announcement: "Pro Audio/Acoustics Technical CD"

The Theater and Entertainment Technology Association, a Japanese company, has just released its new CD, "Pro Audio/Acoustics Technical CD" for acoustical measurement, fine tuning on sound systems, and test listening. The CD has applications for a wide variety of professional audio and acoustical on-site work involving listening, adjusting, and setting-up of sound system equipments as well as for measuring, testing, and experiments in the field of architectural acoustical engineering. Japan's Foundation for Broadcasting Culture (Hosobunka Kikin) provided monetary support for the project.

The new CD begins with signals for acoustical measuring, with the latter part of the CD being devoted to program samples for on-site test listening. The CD's sound signals can be used in many measuring and testing situations. These include testing sound insulation performance as well as measuring and investigating the acoustical characteristics of a room. We also use the signals check, measure, and adjust sound system equipments. The CD's signals include all the basic sound signals such as sine-wave, white/pink noise, band noise, tone bursts, etc. In addition, a special feature of the CD is that the signal samples were selected to match the various measuring objectives and purposes of the measuring and testing work in which they will be used.

The CD's sample listening programs are intended for use on site,such as live performing stage, so they are as dry in quality as is possible without seeming unduly out of the ordinary. The program samples include narration in Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean, jazz, pops, piano, orchestra, traditional Japanese instruments, Japanese drum music(Tai-ko), and sound effects for theatrical drama. The sound effects portion lasts about 5 minutes and was produced by Akira Honma, Chief of the Theatre and Entertainment Technology Association's Acoustics Department. It includes many dramatic sounds, such as thunder and rain, the sound of water flowing in a river, a jet airplane, helicopter, etc.

This is an excellent tool with a wide range of on-site uses and applications. We hope that many of our colleagues will find it a valuable accessory in their measuring and evaluation work. To order the CD, please call the Theatre and Entertainment Technology Association directly at 011-81-3360-6134 or contact Nagata Acoustics.

Nagata Acoustics News 98-3iNo.123j
Issued : March 25, 1998

Nagata Acoustics Inc.

E-mail: info@nagata.co.jp

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