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The Anti-Murphy Concert

The Anti-Murphy Concert

by Alan Carruth

Originally published in American Lutherie #39, 1994

I recently had the privilege of attending a somewhat unusual concert by the Tokyo String Quartet, with some acoustics experiments thrown in. Or maybe it was a physics lecture with live accompaniment? And then there was the quiz show part... I guess I’d better explain.

The whole thing seems to have started with the coming together of a number of good ideas. One of the first was a plan by the Acoustical Society of America to produce an educational video on acoustics for grades K–12. This, of course, would require money to do, and the suggestion was made that a benefit concert be held. The members of the Tokyo String Quartet were contacted, and graciously consented. So far, so simple.

But remember, we’re dealing with acousticians here. Why not use the opportunity to do a little research? For one thing, while the acoustics of empty halls are reasonably well understood, nobody is really sure what happens when you put in the audience. Since the object of most concert promoters is to have as large an audience as possible, and nobody likes to listen to music in an acoustically lousy hall, it seemed like a good subject for an experiment. And how about that violin thing; you know old vs. new and all? And while we’re at it...

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