Published on InTouch (

Music, Architecture & Acoustics in Renaissance Venice:



Recreating Lost Soundscapes 

Professor Deborah Howard MA PhD FBA FSA Scot Hon FRIAS FRSE
The University of Cambridge, Macgeorge Fellow

Professor Malcolm Longair CBE FRS FRSE
Emeritus Jacksonian Professor of Natural Philosophy, Director of Development, Cavendish Laboratory, Professorial Fellow of Clare Hall

During the Renaissance in Venice, composers such as the Gabrieli and Monteverdi created some of their greatest masterpieces for performance in the great churches on festive occasions. But what would the music have sounded like, given the complexity of the music and the long reverberation times of the large churches? These issues have been addressed in an interdisciplinary project involving musicologists, architectural historians, acoustians and physicists. Using the most up-to-date technology, virtual acoustic models have been created for four of the great Venetian churches, including the Basillica of San Marco. The music composed for these churches can then be simulated as it would have been heard on the great festive occasions. Many animations and simulations will be demonstrated showing how modern techniques can address issues in musicological and architectural history.

Professor Deborah Howard is Professor of Architectural History in the Faculty of Architecture and History of Art and a Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge. A graduate of Cambridge and of the Courtauld Institute of Art, she taught at University College London, Edinburgh University and the Courtauld Institute, before returning to Cambridge in 1992.

She has held visiting appointments at Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Smith College, the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC and the Villa I Tatti.

Her principal research interests are the art and architecture of Venice and the Veneto; music and architecture in the Renaissance; and the relationship between Italy and the Eastern Mediterranean. In 2005 she established the Centre for Acoustic and Musical Experiments in Renaissance Architecture (CAMERA) in the Department of History of Art, University of Cambridge.

Her latest books are Sound and Space in Renaissance Venice: Architecture, Music, Acoustics (with Laura Moretti), Yale University Press 2009, and Venice Disputed: Marc’Antonio Barbaro and Venetian Architecture 1550-1600 Yale University Press 2011. She was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2010. In August 2011 (with her husband, Malcolm Longair) she completed the ascent of all the ‘Munros’, the 283 highest mountains in Scotland.

Professor Malcolm Longair has held many highly respected positions within the fields of physics and astronomy. He was appointed the ninth Astronomer Royal of Scotland in 1980, as well as the Regius Professor of Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, and the director of the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. He was head of the Cavendish Laboratory from 1997 to 2005. He has served on and chaired many international committees, boards and panels, working with both NASA and the European Space Agency. He has received much recognition for his work over the years, including a CBE in the millennium honours list for his services to astronomy and cosmology.

Thursday, 22 March 2012 | 6.30pm

Prince Phillip Theatre
Architecture Building
The University of Melbourne

Location map

Contact Tamsin Courtney in the Faculty of Arts at or (03) 8344 8985.

Giovanni Bellini
Madonna and Child, known as the Lochis Madonna, c. 1475-1476
Tempera on panel
37 x 34 cm
Accademia Carrara, Bergamo

Connect with us Follow the Melbourne Uni Alumni Facebook page  Follow the University of Melbourne Alumni LinkedIn group  View the University of Melbounre Alumni photostream  Follow us on Twitter
Date created: 27 July 2010
Last modified: 22 September 2011
Authoriser: Director of Alumni Relations
Maintainer: Alumni Relations
The University of Melbourne ABN: 84 002 705 224
CRICOS Provider Number 00116K (visa information)
Accessibility | Disclaimer & copyrightPrivacy |  Website terms of use