The Sound of Music’s Environment


I’m a church musician, an engineer who has worked in acoustics, and a former resident of southern California, so a post called Recreating the sounds of an ancient Greek church in LA caught my eye. I found it interesting from a technical point of view because it touches briefly on some electronically-based acoustical control techniques that I had worked with in the ’70s. Also, some of the aesthetic points relate to a paper Mrs. Hoge and I presented at the Audio Engineering Society Convention in LA in 1979 (when she was still Miss Potter).

As a church musician, I found a comment by one of the Orthodox chanters to be insightful.

“The primary purpose of the music is not to create enthusiasm or to bring attention to itself, but to be of service to the prayer and spirits of the congregation,” said Dimos Papatzalakis, speaking in Greek.

He was one of the chanters at the LA event, where the music took center stage in the absence of religious imagery. “The priest, the congregation and the chanter are forming one body in raising their voices and prayers to God,” he said.

Orthodox music has evolved slowly over the millennia, and it does powerfully direct a congregation’s mental and spiritual focus in a way that 21st-century praise bands miss.