Weekly Photo Challenge: Geometry

Geometric Acoustics – Auralization Angles

I can’t help but add some literal interpretation to my geometric capture because I find the subject matter to be so intriguing. (If you don’t, then feel free to skip to the photo.)

Are you being heard?

If you ever feel as if others aren’t listening to you, then maybe you should rethink the angle of your approach!

It’s no surprise that modern-day theaters are designed using geometric auralization algorithms. Yet, careful acoustic design went into ancient theaters, as well (despite the absence of computerized simulations). Greek theaters of the Mediterranean area were designed quite impressively, taking into account the prime transmission of acoustics from the performers to every audience member.

It’s important to consider that these ancient Greek theaters were so well-designed (according to current geometrical simulation algorithms that are run on them), since the word, Geometry, has its roots in the Greek language. The Greek word, Geometrein, means “earth measuring.” (For instance, even if you have sworn off the use of geometry years ago – besides perhaps a good game of billiards or photographing nature’s angles, I’m sure you recognize a well-known Greek geometer’s name by a certain theorem you once learned – that would be…you got it! Pythagoras.)

These theaters were geometrically rounded into a circular shape to assist in equi-distance of the audience attenders to the performers in the center. The seats were designed with minimal step distance to accommodate as many attendees as possible (going upward), while creating the condition for limited movement during the performance. By having the performer or orator standing lower, the sound would more readily project upward in its transmission. Other acoustic properties were geometrically placed (such as a back scene) to capture backscatter of sound.

I took this particular image of the South Theater in Jerash, Jordan, a city of the Decapolis, where this ancient theater still stands. (There is also a North Theater, just to hint at the metropolitan size of this city in its time.)

As you can tell, I was in the “nose-bleed” section in an uppermost theater seat. (I obviously had a general admission seat versus those sitting well below me, who opted for the section reserved for dignitaries and the wealthy – or those having acrophobia.)

X marks the sweet spot of perfected acoustics in this theater, according to geometric auralization; therefore, this would be the preferred area for the performers to stand for ultimate acoustic benefit to the audience.

Jerash is full of geometric delights, from the Hadrianic Arch, the Hippodrome and the Temple of Artemis to the mosaics of the Byzantine churches, the columns surrounding the Oval Forum, and even the rounded ancient manhole covers of the Romanesque streets!


If you’re further interested in this topic of ancient geometric acoustics, here are links to a couple of papers for you to further explore:




For additional geometric photographic representations to view (or if you’d like to submit your own), visit: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/11/02/weekly-photo-challenge-geometry/