How to make yourself sound like a 13th-century church.

By I Suck Moss

Somebody went to the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and popped a balloon, and I’d like to tell you why that was a really cool thing to do.

The Hagia Sophia was built in the 6th century and was at the time the largest building in the world. Because of its unique acoustics, this building inspired many composers to write 10 centuries worth of religious music specifically to be sung there.

But when the Ottoman Empire invaded in 1453, the Hagia Sophia became a mosque, and choral music was banned! 😮 Even when it turned into a museum in 1935, no real ‘live music’ has been herd there since the 15th century!

The sounds of the Hagia Sophia have been long forgotten, until now…

It is still not possible to have a full choir perform in the current day Hagia Sophia. But two scholars at Stanford University have created a digital effect making it possible for you, me or a real choir to recreate the glorious sound of the building when it was alive with song.

They did this by popping a balloon in the space and recording the reverb. This audio was used to create a digital filter that can make anything sound like it’s inside the Hagia Sophia, its quite special.

This choir from portland used the effect to record this album of 13th-century Byzantine chanting, which I would recommend.

But if you’re interested in going a little off-topic, I used the effect to see what abba would sound like in the 13th century. Take a look, its pretty heavenly.

dancing queen in the Hagia Sophia

If you want to try it yourself, here is the download link to the reverb effect…

These are the researchers from Stanford University.

https://ccrma.stanford.edu/groups/iconsofsound/auralizations/

Have fun and stay safe.

I-Suck 😉

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