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How a Historian Stuffed Hagia Sophia's Sound Into a Studio

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The Hagia Sophia recently was rededicated as a Muslim place of worship after decades as a museum.

Researchers at Stanford University captured the acoustic fingerprint of the Hagia Sophia.

Credit: Piotr Redlinski/The New York Times

Researchers at Stanford University were able to successfully capture the acoustics of the Hagia Sophia, prior to the Byzantine cathedral in Istanbul being rededicated as a Muslim place of worship.

Information about the building's acoustic properties was used to create "The Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia" in a studio in California. The album was recorded using live virtual acoustics, in which processors and speakers provide the acoustic feedback of a particular space in real time, allowing musicians to adjust their performance as if they were in another building.

The acoustics of Hagia Sophia were captured by a balloon pop in a spot that would have been occupied by singers during the Byzantine era, with microphones capturing the sound and its reverberations. The balloon noises and maps of the interior were used to identify the building's acoustic fingerprint, which then was integrated into a computer simulation.

From The New York Times
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