Experimental Virtual Archeological-Acoustics
     Influence of performance spaces on Historically Informed Performance
     Thesis funding : Fall 2019 (2019-2022)


Candidatures must be received by the supervisor no later than 3-July-2019 for timely processing.

In the context of the collaborative project EVAA, comprising the Institut Jean Le Rond ∂’Alembert, IReMus, and the CRC – Equipe Conservation et recherche, a PhD funding opportunity (2019-2022) is available.


Experimental Virtual Archeological-Acoustics: Influence of performance spaces on Historically Informed Performance


The research and practice of “historically informed performance” (HIP) has advanced significantly in recent decades. This discipline can be summarized as a regard to performance which aims to be faithful to the approach, manner, and style of the musical era in which a work was originally conceived. Two aspects are typically considered in such efforts: performance practice of musicians and use of period instruments. However, little consideration has been given to the influence of performance space on the performance, instrument, or composition of the time. Using real-time virtual acoustic simulations, EVAA aims to include the performance venue’s acoustics as a third component of study for HIP. Placing musicians in various virtual performance spaces, we examine the impact of the room’s acoustics on performance. Such a study also informs investigations on the evolution of instruments themselves, with respect to the evolution of performance venues. Inclusion of the role of composition completes the circle, as it can be seen as both a driving force of change and a response to the changing physics of the instruments and rooms used for music performance. Extending the methodologies of experimental archeology, recent advances in computational accuracy of acoustic virtual reality simulations offer the possibility to create ecologically valid reconstructions of historic sites. The project will employ an interactive immersive real-time simulator allowing musicians to perform “live” within virtual reconstructions of historic venues. This simulator significantly advances upon previous projects in realistic off-line rendering of historic sites. Observations of the impact of acoustic variations on player performance, and comparisons of resulting performances between historically suitable venues and modern performance spaces from an audience perspective, will complete the feedback loop between performer and listener necessary for a full understanding of the historical musical context. The three participating laboratories bring complementary knowledge and skills to the project. IReMus has developed a musicological expertise on the historical approach of music and acoustics and historically informed performance issues. d’Alembert brings its experience in historical virtual acoustic simulations, physical and musical instrument acoustics, and performer and psychoacoustic studies. CRC brings its notable experience in heritage musical acoustics and heretically accurate facsimile construction as well as initial documentary research on performance venues, present in its permanent collection.

Thesis topic

The PhD project consists of assisting in the creation of a real-time room acoustic simulator for use with musicians, taking into account the musicians movements and the impact of dynamic source directivity. The simulator will be put into use for studying the impact of room acoustics on musicians playing, focusing on comparisons between Baroque chamber music venues and modern day equivalents. The thesis work will contribute to the research and documentation of pertinent venues, acoustic measurements of existing venues, and the creation of ecologically valid geometrical acoustics models of on these venues. The thesis will comprise a series of perceptual studies examining the impact of acoustic variations on playing, in the context of historically informed performance methods.


The candidate, with a master’s degree in acoustics or related fields, will need the skills to work at the intersection of room acoustic modelling, psychoacoustics, and archeological acoustics (archeoacoustics). An interest/passion for history and music be an additional asset. The ability to work independantly as well as part of a group is fundamental to a successful candidate. Motivation, self-discipline, and maturity are needed for this highly interdisciplinary and collaborative project.


The PhD will be supervised by Brian FG Katz, CNRS Research Director at the Institut d'Alembert, Sorbonne University, and Théodora Psychoyou, Assistant Professor, University of Paris-Sorbonne and IReMus.


Please submit a detailed CV, Master’s degree transcript, letter of motivation concerning the proposed subject, and a list of 2 references that can be contacted. Material, PDF format, should be addressed to brian.katz@sorbonne-universite.fr.


In order to compete the selection and submission process, all above materials must be received by no later than 3-July-2019.

Relavent articles

  • B. N. Postma, S. Dubouilh, and B. F. Katz, “An archeoacoustic study of the history of the Palais du Trocadero (1878-1937),” J. Acoust. Soc. Am., pp. 2810–2821, Apr. 2019, doi:10.1121/1.5095882. SI: Room Acoustics Modeling and Auralization.
  • B. N. Postma, H. Demontis, and B. F. Katz, “Subjective evaluation of dynamic voice directivity for auralizations,” Acta Acust united Ac, vol. 103, pp. 181–184, 2017, doi:10.3813/AAA.919045.
  • B. N. Postma and B. F. Katz, “Perceptive and objective evaluation of calibrated room acoustic simulation auralizations,” J. Acoust. Soc. Am., vol. 140, pp. 4326–4337, Dec. 2016, doi:10.1121/1.4971422.
  • B. N. Postma and B. F. Katz, “Creation and calibration method of virtual acoustic models for historic auralizations,” Virtual Reality, vol. 19, no. SI: Spatial Sound, pp. 161–180, 2015, doi:10.1007/s10055-015-0275-3.
  • D. Thery, D. Poirier-Quinot, B. N. Postma, and B. F. Katz, “Impact of the visual rendering system on subjective auralization assessment in VR,” in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (J. Barbic, M. D’Cruz, M. Latoschik, M. Slater, and P. Bourdot, eds.), no. 10700 (EuroVR 2017) in Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS), pp. 105–118, Springer, 2017, doi:10.1007/978-3-319-72323-5_7.
  • B. N. Postma, D. Poirier-Quinot, J. Meyer, and B. F. Katz, “Virtual reality performance auralization in a calibrated model of Notre-Dame Cathedral,” in Euroregio, (Porto), pp. 6:1–10, June 2016.