24 October 202318:00 - 20:30
Online and The Alan Baxter Gallery, 75 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EL
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London’s Royal Festival Hall opened its doors in 1951 after a series of public tuning concerts. An iconic building, Festival Hall was also an archetype in designing for musical tone. The procedure fused architecture, music, engineering, and science and was predicated upon a tempered construction process, implemented in phases and interspersed with tuning concerts.
The idea of tuning a building wasn’t an abruptly new idea, but rather, as this paper will demonstrate an approach which had developed gradually over the course of a number of decades, honed by experimental work in different buildings. By the time planning began for Royal Festival Hall in the late 1940s, the stage for ‘designing for musical tone’ had already been set.
This paper will explore that trajectory of development as it evolved between 1901 and 1951. It was not a straightforward, linear course of progress, but rather, an interweaving of formal and informal research tracks, supported by a distinctive intellectual configuration and propelled forward by figures from the worlds of architecture, engineering, music and science.
Explore the history of some iconic British buildings from a slightly different (aural) perspective, (including St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Cathedral, Royal Albert Hall, Queen’s Hall, and Royal Festival Hall).
Participate in a celebration of construction and sonic quirks within engineering history.
Discover what a disused munitions factory had to do with musical tone in the 1920s.
Discover more about the engineering graduate who was known as ‘the human tuning fork’.
The lecture is open to anyone and may be of particular interest to:
Those with an interest in intersections in the histories of engineering, science, architecture, and music
Those with an interest in the history of acoustics and auditorium design
Fiona Smyth is an Associate Professor in the School Of Art History and Cultural Policy at University College Dublin and European Research Council laureate for the Project Spectres & Camouflage: The Sound of Silence. Fiona’s research lies at the interface of the histories of architecture, construction, and science with particular emphasis on acoustics. Her work has been awarded the Newman Medal for Architectural Acoustics (ASA), the Stanley Smith Prize for Construction History (CHS), the Royal Irish Academy Charlemont Scholarship (RIA), and the Hawksmoor Medal for Architectural History (SAHGB).
Email - [email protected]
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