Recreating choral music in a Scottish chapel with gaming technology

Linlithgow Palace. Image: Alex Sanz (Wikimedia), CC BY 2.0

Scottish researchers have used gaming technology to reconstruct what choral music would have sounded like in the Chapel Royal at Linlithgow Palace in the sixteenth century.

The chapel: past versus present

When king James IV visited the chapel at Easter in 1512, it looked a bit different than it does today. The entire palace burned down in 1746 and has been a ruin ever since. So, when researchers wanted to hear what Easter 1512 would’ve sounded like, simply playing historical instruments in the chapel ruins wouldn’t be enough.

Everything within a room has an effect on music being played in the room, like the height of the ceiling or any objects in the room. So, the original content of the chapel had to be thoroughly researched to recreate authentic sounds.

Making the final product

The researchers made a 3D laser scan of the chapel and added the original interior to the 3D model. They used technology from video games to give the model the correct acoustic properties. A choir recorded the music – Scottish music from the period – in an echo-free room. With everything combined, this project should be a largely authentic recreation of a 1512 Scottish Easter mass.

You can buy a CD or download of the music here and watch a video about the project below. The researchers are now looking to create a true virtual reality experience for the palace so that visitors can truly be immersed in the sixteenth century.

Source: The Guardian, The Standard, Smithsonian Magazine

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