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Acoustics, Part 5

A Minute with Miles
Mary Noble Ours
/
SC Public Radio

Acoustics is the science of sound, but the word also refers to the qualities of a room—the qualities that determine and describe how things sound in that room. 

Principles of acoustical design based on the nature of sound waves and the properties of materials have been known since ancient Greek and Roman times. Still, there’s always been something mysterious about why one space turns out sounding radiant and another dull, something that seems to have as much to do with art as with science. These days specialists called acoustical engineers design concert halls using highly sophisticated instruments, highly accurate measurements, and the latest in modern materials, and they sometimes achieve wonderful results. But sometimes what they demonstrate is that the people who built concert halls in “the old days” knew what they were doing, and that new tools don’t always trump old principles.

A Minute with Miles is a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.

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Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.