Belmont Faculty to Research Digital Preservation of Music Row Studios’ Aural Heritage

Dr. Doyuen Ko

Dr. Doyuen Ko, associate professor of audio engineering in Belmont University’s Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business, was recently awarded a $350,000 grant for a study he’s pursuing on digital preservation of aural heritage in conjunction with his colleague at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Ko’s work will digitally replicate the acoustics of three historic structures, including Columbia recording studios A and B on Music Row (which Belmont University owns and operates), to establish protocols for preserving the aural heritage of culturally significant sites.

This work enables virtual interaction through physics-based reconstructions of acoustical dynamics. A two-step process is involved in aural heritage preservation. First, researchers must capture and document the acoustics of a space and then create virtual acoustics using captured data via digital audio technologies.

The researchers will develop, test and share their aural heritage process via three case studies, which represent culturally, architecturally and temporally distinct examples of endangered aural heritage. Those include the Columbia studios as well as the Rochester Savings Bank, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the interior architecture of the 3,000-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site at Chavín de Huántar, Peru. The work is expected to be completed within three years.

Ko, along with co-principal investigator Dr. Sungyoung Kim (RIT) and aural heritage consultant Dr. Miriam Kolar, noted in their grant proposal that building acoustics influence human experience, particularly in religious, performance and other public gathering spaces. “For centuries, across music history, composers and performers have viewed performance rooms as musical instruments, with distinct tonal, spatial and dynamic character,” they wrote. “Composers have sought to include the interaction of players and rooms within their music, and instrument makers consider a room response to sound.”

Belmont University is uniquely equipped for the Music Row studies in terms of geographic location and facilities, including a hemi-anechoic chamber and a 250-seat film sound mixing stage with a DOLBY ATMOS immersive audio system, the first university-based installation in the world.

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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at jnicholson@musicrow.com.

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