Stories of weird/extreme psychoacoustic spaces or episodes?

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RefD
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Post by RefD » Sun Jan 20, 2008 10:31 pm

one of the old bunkers for coastal defence anti-ship cannons at Bastion Point near Auckland Harbour in New Zealand...had the odd property of totally swallowing sound up.

maybe it was designed that way so the soldiers wouldn't get killed by the concussion while firing?

anyway, you step inside and you can only hear what's outside the bunker.

beautiful location/scenery overlooking the water, btw.
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Post by lyman » Mon Jan 21, 2008 6:04 am

playinbass wrote: I'm guessing that you are taling about the Christian Science Mapparium in Boston.....on Mass Ave right down the block from Berklee College of Music.

It IS a pretty hairy effect.....it almost soound like microphones are picking up your voice and amplifying it through speakers.


Here's an article about it :

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/20 ... htm?csp=34
i love that thing! as a little kid i would go into the city with my dad and brother on saturday mornings for my brother's piano lesson, and my dad and i went there sometimes to pass the time. it literally sounds like somebody is right next to you, if you're in the right spot, even though they're whispering and are 30' away.

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Post by Maurice » Mon Jan 21, 2008 11:57 am

La Monte Young's Dream House, an ongoing installation. There are four huge speakers in the room, and what's coming out of them is a precisely-calculated set of sine waves (which frequencies and how many depends on which piece is going on at the time--when I was there, it was 32 frequencies). It's pretty loud, but not unbearable. The room is lit in that magenta color you see in the photo.

Two weird effects: 1) very, very slight motions of my head or anything around me (like moving the pages of the press handouts they gave out) changed the interference patterns of the frequencies around me, and I heard the piece differently. 2) When I left, not only was I seeing colors differently from being in the magenta room for an hour or more, but I was also "hearing" notches in the ambient sound outside the room for a while, probably from ear fatigue at the frequencies of the piece.

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Post by Winstontaneous » Mon Jan 21, 2008 3:22 pm

Maurice--that LaMonte Young house sounds intriguing. I've been thinking lately about tailoring music for specific spaces and was wondering if anybody had done anything like that before.

When I was in high school I participated in Tuba Christmas in NYC--carols played on low brass (trombone, tuba, baritone horn, euphonium, sousaphone). Performance was on the ice at Rockefeller Center, but rehearsal was in sub-sub basement of the NBC building. I had never been in an enclosed space that large--several hundred feet wide/deep, probably 20 foot ceilings. Ramps going up and down so the waves had room to grow, and not a lot of parallel surfaces. The sound of all these horns together was amazing--long swelling reverb, then the sound slowly dissipating and getting farther away.

A few years ago I worked for a PA company that did large festivals with a high-powered Bag End ELF system. Amazing bass--flat down to 8hz from sealed cabs with tremendously quick response. One time at a reggae festival we had a system set up in a dancehall--basically a concrete building about 100 feet long, 50 feet wide, 20 foot ceilings. As we tested the system I walked around the room and stood at various distances from the speakers. It was quite something to be able to hear how tones changed and interacted as I walked around, and how the sound at one spot changed dramatically as I rotated my head.

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Maurice
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Post by Maurice » Mon Jan 21, 2008 8:13 pm

Wubbeneezer Garibaldi wrote:Maurice--that LaMonte Young house sounds intriguing. I've been thinking lately about tailoring music for specific spaces and was wondering if anybody had done anything like that before.
The season runs from late September to late June of the next year, so if you're in NYC on any Thursday or Saturday from now until June 21, 2008, you could check it out for $4. (2PM to Midnight, both days.)

The first thing that comes to mind about music for specific spaces (that isn't LMY) is Pauline Oliveros's Deep Listening Band, whose recordings Deep Listening and The Ready Made Boomerang were recorded in the enormous Fort Warden Cistern (now, apparently, called the Dan Harpole Cistern), which has a 45-second reverb tail. I've heard both recordings, and prefer the earlier release--it's really worth checking out.

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Post by OM15.2 » Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:44 pm

this dam is known locally (Barossa Valley, Sth Australia), as the Whispering Wall.

It's 140meters long, but from one end on a platform in front of the dam, you can hear a conversation at the other end as if the people were standing next to you. Pretty amazing.

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Post by jmiller » Tue Jan 22, 2008 2:56 am

Just back from a long hiatus...


I haven't had a chance to read through the current Joshua Tree section of the current issue, but just outside of Joshua Tree is a kooky little place called The Integratron. It was built by an aeronautical engineer named George Van Tassel who also claimed to be a UFO contactee. It's supposed to have been built as a "rejuvenating machine" type of thing, utilizing sacred geometry and all kinds of other interesting/weird stuff. The earth's magnetic field is supposed to be unusually high in this particular spot.

Anyways, the current owners do these new age-y "sound baths" which are basically just quartz crystal bowls being played while you lie on the floor under the dome. It's pretty weird. I remember hearing one bowl "autopanning" back and forth from one ear to another, and another bowl would make me hungry every time it was played. I'm not big on that type of stuff but it was definitely worth the experience. And, it can be rented out for recording... If you live in Southern California it's worth a trip out. We stayed in a really cool house that had this crazy Elvis theme, and interestingly enough there were TapeOp mags in the bathroom 8)

Another unforgettable space was the Pantheon in Rome. What an incredible space that is, and all the more amazing that it was built nearly 2,000 years ago.

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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Tue Jan 22, 2008 2:04 pm

Maurice wrote:a 45-second reverb tail.
Holy Mother. i freak out over the 2 second reverb in the stairwells here at work. 45 seconds is hard to even imagine. AND they let people record there?

*books flight immediately*

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Maurice
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Post by Maurice » Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:09 pm

MoreSpaceEcho wrote:
Maurice wrote:a 45-second reverb tail.
Holy Mother. i freak out over the 2 second reverb in the stairwells here at work. 45 seconds is hard to even imagine. AND they let people record there?

*books flight immediately*
They do indeed, although I'm pretty sure you have to schedule with them--I can't see them doing walk-ins. Still, it looks like a bunch of CDs have been done there, mostly music for the space. (I'd think a band playing songs would turn to mush pretty quickly.)

But yeah--45 seconds. It's really something to hear. (I've not heard it in person, just on recordings.)

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Post by vvv » Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:24 am

Scodiddly wrote:For those of you in the Chicago area - have you ever stood under the jellybean at Millenium Park and tried to find the resonant note? There is one, but my absolute pitch sucks so I don't remember what note. Try it out next time you're playing native guide to relatives or whatever.
Man, I'm about a block from there as I post and am really tempted...

But I'm guessing I'd get really odd looks in the work-wear suit and tie. :(

Maybe one Friday night after a session at Petterino's...
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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Wed Jan 23, 2008 1:40 pm

Maurice wrote:But yeah--45 seconds. It's really something to hear. (I've not heard it in person, just on recordings.)
it's gotta be pretty amazing.

i can't imagine you could play any kind of 'normal' music in there. i would just bring a guitar, volume pedal, amp, two mics, some kinda recorder, and a bag of really good pot. and then literally play like one note per minute. heaven!

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Post by ndstgmoe » Wed Jan 23, 2008 2:12 pm

I was at the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis this past summer, and they have a pretty interesting room. It's not spherical - more like a cylinder, maybe 15 or 20 feet in diameter.

It was really live and bouncy from any point in the room, but if you stood in the center and talked, it was really disorienting. It's like there are speakers directly above you amplifying what you say and shooting it straight back at your head.
it almost soound like microphones are picking up your voice and amplifying it through speakers.

... yeah. Like that.

I was just there for the some art show, and wasn't expecting the acoustic trip. It was pretty incredibly, since I wasn't exactly 100% sober. :shock:

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Post by bgc » Wed Jan 23, 2008 11:09 pm

Has anyone read "A Passage to India?" The central conflict of this incredible book depends on a disorienting and frightening acoustic effect in the Marabar Caves.
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More from Fort Warden

Post by bgc » Thu Jan 24, 2008 9:57 am

For another recording from the Cistern check out Stuart Dempster:

http://www.newalbion.com/artists/dempsters/

His "Underground Overlays from the Cistern Chapel" was recorded in the same space. He is a long time compatriot of Oliveros and was a part of the deep listening band record in the same space.

Also check out his record "In The Great Abbey of Clement VI."
The very first note is the loudest, and should be overpowering. This single first note, after I stop playing, continues for 14 seconds into silence just before the next note. You will eventually learn to tell when I quit playing and leave only the echo, but at first you may be deceived.

14 seconds is much less than 45 but still significant and allows for a very different kind of music from the Cistern.

On a side note, Fort Warden is one of the truly wonderful places in the world. I grew up in Seattle and spent many summers at The Marrowstone Music Festival and still go to the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes as often as possible. Check out the events at http://centrum.org/ and go if you're anywhere near Port Townsend.
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Post by cgarges » Thu Jan 24, 2008 11:26 am

I've been in Echo Chamber #2 at Abbey Road. That's pretty cool.

Round rooms are totally bizarre. I played a Christmas party at a bank a few years ago that was a giant, wood-walled, round room, and it may have been the worst-sounding acoustic music experience I've ever had.

I played with an R&B/funk band in some giant round room with a domed ceiling in south Florida once that was really weird. I remember walking around the room before the gig and checking out the acoustics. It made me think about Ben Franklin.

You know, Ben Franklin had parabolic acoustics really figured out. He would often hang around under the dome in the capital building and eavesdrop on people from the other side of the room. No one could figure out how he knew the things he knew when these meetings hadn't been public.

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