Project report

The walk-in orchestra

As an audience, we are familiar with the sound of an orchestra from the outside - but what if we want to move through the orchestra? In "real" concerts, we can't simply strut across the stage during the music, of course, but perhaps virtual reality can help us?

Project status

research & implementation

Between violins and the conductor

The aim is to create a VR application that allows you to move freely on the stage of an orchestra and perceive the sound as the musicians would hear it. The application can be used not only in music education and didactic contexts, e.g. in music lessons. It could help musicians to practise their part in the right context: at the position where they will actually play later. They would also hear the other instruments exactly as they will sound later in a real orchestra. This type of application can therefore also help to train more confident performance or reduce performance anxiety.

The recordings were made by Cornelia Zöhrer under the supervision of Sascha Etezazi and are also being used as part of a bachelor's thesis at the Ericht Thienhaus Institute.

Sound example 1: harp, horns, violins

You are standing between the harp, horns and violins and looking at the conductor. This is a pre-rendered sound sample. We recommend headphones for the best sound experience.

Several microphone positions recreate the sound field of the orchestra

They were recorded using 5 spherical microphone arrays in addition to "traditional" microphone setup, as is common in radio or for CDs. In combination, it is possible to move virtually through the orchestra with 6 degrees of freedom (6 Degrees of Freedom, 6DoF for short). Previous similar VR applications often only offered the possibility to move with 3 degrees of freedom (only head rotation at a fixed point in space).

Sound example 2: flute, oboe

You are standing in front of the flute and oboe and looking at them. This is a pre-rendered sound sample. We recommend headphones for the best sound experience.

One research focus in our work is the realistic design of the sound image outside the recorded sound area, so that there is a constant sound image that does not - as before - simply fall away as soon as you leave the "listening zone".

Innovative microphones were used for the recordings

The sound examples are recordings of the festive concert for the New Year of the Detmold University of Music 2024, performed by the Detmold University Orchestra under the direction of Prof. Florian Ludwig. The soloists were Franziska Roggenbuck and Hyejin Kim (both soprano), as well as Anna-Christine Heymann (mezzo-soprano).

Photo credit

Sascha Etezazi