De l'acoustique des églises en Suisse une approche pluridisciplinaire

The existence of the fundamental conflict in churches between the desirable acoustic conditions for music and for speech intelligibility prompted this dissertation. It tackles the subject not only under the acoustical perspective but also in the historical, theological, musicological and architectural aspects. This research studies, initially, how during the past, the liturgy, the acoustical and organizational characteristics of churches supported one or the other of these attributes. The second chapter presents the objective analyses of many Reformed worships and Catholic masses which make it possible to show the conditions and requirements for the current Christian celebrations in Switzerland. The analysis of the church geometrical parameters (volume, height, etc.) and of the results of objective acoustical measurements (reverberation time, background noise and speech intelligibility) of approximately two hundred churches in Switzerland allows to statistically describe their characteristics and to objectively verify the assumptions made in the preceding chapter. Chapter 3 also studies the local or global range of conclusions by the comparison of the results obtained in Switzerland with those published for other countries (synthesis of about 400 churches). The study of the origin and the interaction between Liturgy and Acoustics passes in particular by the analysis of the history of sacred music but especially by the examination of the main methods implemented to improve the acoustics of churches. Chapter 4 presents the historical evolution and the acoustical effectiveness of two types of devices used in churches: acoustic pots and pulpits with their canopies. The position of the various participants does not influence only the listening conditions but also reveals the importance attached to their participation. Chapter 5 examines then the historical evolution and statistical analysis of the current conditions regarding the position of the organ, the spatial arrangements for the seated congregation in churches, as well as the effect of the occupation on reverberation time and speech intelligibility. Chapter 6 concludes with the analysis of the desirable acoustical conditions in current churches, particularly with regard to the architectural, organizational (sound system, assembly arrangement and organ location) and the acoustical parameters (reverberation time, background noise and speech intelligibility). This last analysis is based on a significant bibliographical synthesis and on the comparison, for the sampled churches, of the results for objective measurements with the subjective evaluations obtained by a parishioner's sample survey.

Morel, Claude
Lausanne, EPFL

 Record created 2005-03-16, last modified 2018-03-17

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