Music, Architecture & Acoustics in Renaissance Venice: Recreating Lost Soundscapes 

Professor Deborah Howard and Professor Malcolm Longair 

Interior of St Mark's in Venice. Image via wikipedia.

During the Renaissance in Venice, composers such as the Gabrieli and Monteverdi created some of their greatest masterpieces for performance in the great churches on festive occasions. But what would the music have sounded like, given the complexity of the music and the long reverberation times of the large churches? These issues have been addressed in an interdisciplinary project involving musicologists, architectural historians, acoustians and physicists. Using the most up-to-date technology, virtual acoustic models have been created for four of the great Venetian churches, including the Basillica of San Marco. The music composed for these churches can then be simulated as it would have been heard on the great festive occasions. Many animations and simulations will be demonstrated showing how modern techniques can address issues in musicological and architectural history.

Professor Deborah Howard (MA PhD FBA FSA Scot Hon FRIAS FRSE The University of Cambridge, Macgeorge Fellow) is Professor of Architectural History in the Faculty of Architecture and History of Art and a Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge. A graduate of Cambridge and of the Courtauld Institute of Art, she taught at University College London, Edinburgh University and the Courtauld Institute, before returning to Cambridge in 1992.

She has held visiting appointments at Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Smith College, the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC and the Villa I Tatti.

Her principal research interests are the art and architecture of Venice and the Veneto; music and architecture in the Renaissance; and the relationship between Italy and the Eastern Mediterranean. In 2005 she established the Centre for Acoustic and Musical Experiments in Renaissance Architecture (CAMERA) in the Department of History of Art, University of Cambridge.

Her latest books are Sound and Space in Renaissance Venice: Architecture, Music, Acoustics (with Laura Moretti), Yale University Press 2009, andVenice Disputed: Marc’Antonio Barbaro and Venetian Architecture 1550-1600Yale University Press 2011. She was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2010. In August 2011 (with her husband, Malcolm Longair) she completed the ascent of all the ‘Munros’, the 283 highest mountains in Scotland.

Professor Malcolm Longair (CBE FRS FRSE Emeritus Jacksonian Professor of Natural Philosophy, Director of Development, Cavendish Laboratory, Professorial Fellow of Clare Hall) has held many highly respected positions within the fields of physics and astronomy. He was appointed the ninth Astronomer Royal of Scotland in 1980, as well as the Regius Professor of Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, and the director of the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. He was head of the Cavendish Laboratory from 1997 to 2005. He has served on and chaired many international committees, boards and panels, working with both NASA and the European Space Agency. He has received much recognition for his work over the years, including a CBE in the millennium honours list for his services to astronomy and cosmology.

Date: 6:30pm, Thursday, 22 March 2012

Venue: Prince Phillip Theatre, Architecture Building, The University of Melbourne, Parkville

Bookings: Lecture is free and open to the public but you need to register via this link