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Virtual Audio and Past Environments: Audio and Acoustics in Heritage Applications

A workshop organized by Damian Murphy, University of York at National Centre for Early Music, York (17 March 2008)

(pdf) (html) Workshop Report

A one-day workshop to explore multi-disciplinary approaches to audio, acoustics, and sound design, and to discover how current techniques and research might be applied specifically to heritage and related applications.

Virtual interactive environments, especially in online gaming and similar applications, are now a highly popular sector in the entertainment industry, and offer high quality graphical rendering of virtual worlds and user interaction and immersion. Such graphical virtualization techniques have long been used in the fields of archaeology, history, and heritage as a means to better understand, interact and experience past environments.

Despite significant advances in desktop computer processing and associated graphics rendering, sound design and audio processing techniques are usually perfunctory at best in such applications and make little use of recent similar creative and technological developments in the field of acoustics and audio processing. Most people would also agree that good and considered use of high quality sound design can work with the imagination to evoke powerful images or memories, or provide important auditory cues to the nature of events in the virtual environment, either in support of or parallel to the visual stimulus. As a particular example, such techniques have long been used and are now accepted as commonplace in film sound design.

Additionally, architectural acoustic modelling and measurement techniques have more recently moved from purely lab-based research and analysis to include real-time walk through virtual environments - as for instance used by Arup Acoustics in their building design work - and the study of heritage sites. Of particular note in the latter case is the European CAHRISMA project (Conservation of the Acoustical Heritage by the Revival and Identification of the Sinan's Mosques Acoustics is now finished). The main goal of this project was to introduce and develop the concept of ‘Hybrid Architectural Heritage’ covering acoustic as well as more accepted visual features.

Workshop objectives

This workshop aims to explore multi-disciplinary approaches to audio, acoustics, and sound design, and how techniques and current research might be applied to heritage and related applications.

It will bring together researchers, practitioners, and professionals working in the area of audio and acoustics who have an interest or potential interest in working in this particular field. The workshop will demonstrate current and past examples of audio work in the field of history, heritage and the preservation and interpretation of past environments, thereby allowing the dissemination of good practice and shared experience.

Key names from the museums and related sectors will participate in the workshop to facilitate networking opportunities with researchers and practitioners working in audio, acoustics and sound design. It is hoped this will lead to sharing of knowledge and experience and provide an opportunity to promote and demonstrate good practice in sound design for heritage and museums applications.


The day will run from 10.00 to 17.00. In the evening there is a plan to take a 'sound tour' of some of the wide variety of heritage spaces in the City of York, where specific events or installations will be taking place in support of this unique multi-disciplinary workshop.

How to register

This event is free to attend the event but places are limited. For more information, and to register, contact Registration applications should be received by 11 March 2008.

AHDS Methods Taxonomy Terms

This item has been catalogued using a discipline and methods taxonomy. Learn more here.


  • Music
  • Archaeology
  • Ancient History
  • History


  • Data Analysis - Sound analysis
  • Data Capture - Digital sound generation
  • Data Capture - Digital sound recording
  • Data Capture - Music recognition
  • Data Capture - Usage of existing digital data
  • Data publishing and dissemination - Audio resource sharing
  • Data publishing and dissemination - Streaming audio
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Sound editing
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Sound encoding
  • Practice-led Research - Digital sound generation
  • Practice-led Research - Digital sound recording