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The Sound Characteristic of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra Investigated with Digital Measuring Methods

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Some of the outstanding orchestras of the world are said to have a special "Sound." Various explanations of this phenomena can be heard, for example: the local tradition of playing technique, special instruments, etc., but up to now no scientific investigations were made in this field. This paper describes the application of special measuring methods (illustrated by means of investigations on "French horns") to answer the question, Is there any significant difference in sound characteristics between the Vienna Philharmonic and other outstanding orchestras (for instance the New York Philharmonic), and if there is, what causes the difference? With BIAS, a digital method for measuring the acoustical behavior of brass instruments, the influence of the instrument on the steady state and transients parts of the orchestral sound is determined. After that, the interaction player-instrument is examined to evaluate the influence of the player. 3-D plots of transient parts of the sound illustrate the differences. Various sound examples are given to prove the accuracy of the applied methods.

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