The musical sounds of 16th century Venice

Musicians and choir directors have long speculated on what music of the past would have sounded like. Now a new study by a student and a professor from New York University and the University of Cambridge may offer a sample from 16th century Venice.

Music technology PhD candidate Braxton Boren and physics professor Malcolm Longair used modern acoustic simulation technology to study the way "polyphonic music was heard during the Renaissance in two of Venice’s churches: the Basilica of San Marco and the Redentore."

“We built a filter for the churches’ acoustics as they would have existed in the 16th century,” explains Boren. “Then we can record a choir singing in an anechoic chamber, with no sound reflections, and put it through the filter to hear the choir as it would have sounded during the Renaissance,” said Boren.