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The Hall Acoustics

Critics were unhappy with the Hall's acoustics, charging that its sound was weak and inconsistent. That changed in 1890 with the purchase of a huge, eight year old Odell concert organ from millionaire William Beldon. Immediately upon its installation, the Hall showed the effects of the high wall of organ case and the coving over the stage, for it was then that the Music Hall became the acoustical wonder it is today. The debate still rages over whether George Post planned the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall to be the acoustical marvel it is. This seems improbable, given that the Hall's acoustics did not reach their full potential until the addition of the Odell organ fifteen years after the building's construction, and that none of Post's other music halls came close to being of the same quality. More likely, Post simply applied the few basic acoustical principles that were known at the time and combined them with some fortunate choices of texture and interior design to create as perfect an environment for the playing of orchestra and chamber music as exists anywhere in the world. The acoustics have been attributed to a number of factors.

Foremost is the Hall's dimensions: the ratio of the length to the width and height is central to the creation of the Hall's

 

resonance. The ninety degree angles reflect the sound out of phase, muddying it just enough to give it fullness of body. In addition, the wooden structure built within a heavy stone shell, especially with the large spaces above the ceiling and below the floor, allows the entire hall to vibrate, adding to the richness of sound. The hard back wall of the stage, assisted by the curved lip over the stage, throws reflected sound back at the audience, while its depth seems to be just right to ensure proper reverberation time, or the time between the hearing of the direct sound and the echo. Finally, the vaulted ceiling, the hard, plaster walls, and the irregular back wall created by the decorative organ case all reflect and disperse sound in such a way as to create warmth and palpability. Whatever the causes, by 1925 the importance of the Hall to the community was such that Troy historian Rutherford Hayner would write, "The building of a great Music Hall, one of the really important structures of its kind in America, fifty years ago, gave to the community a sort of rallying point musically... Certain it is that no city of equal size in the country has enjoyed so much of the world's best music and musicians."

- R. McClintock

Adapted: Prof. Gary Seibein, University of Florida; Mesick,Cohen,Waite Architects, John Helton of the Troy Record

 


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