Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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The Ghost Orchestra
26 August 2017

The Ghost Orchestra

Gazing up at the iconic bells of Notre Dame Cathedral you hear music. You spin around looking for musicians, but there’s no-one there. The Ghost Orchestra isn’t supernatural in a spooky way, but uses a combination of acoustics and computer models to recreate the spectre of a French concert. Thousands of miles away in The USA, listeners are surrounded by the sound of 19th century opera "La Vierge" performed on Notre Dame’s 850th birthday – they can even move around the computerised cathedral using virtual reality headsets (pictured), experiencing the disembodied spatial music from different angles. Researchers plan to tailor the sensory experience to different ears, fine-tuning it for differently-abled listeners. The technology is also being used to investigate how visually-impaired people understand and remember unfamiliar places, perhaps making use of hidden creaks and echoes to build a mental picture of the architecture.

Written by John Ankers

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