Stacking Good Sound

Last month, the UNE Discovery team were pleased to have Sarah Adeney, opera soprano, and Chris Clark, Director, both from the New England Conservatorium of Music (NECOM) visit the Boilerhouse.  NECOM hosted an Opera Australia event during that week and we were thrilled that Sarah could come and test out the acoustics in the Boilerhouse stack (the very tall chimney of the Boilerhouse that you can see for miles).  Can we just say .  . . . WOW!!!!   The small crowd we had in attendance were blown away by Sarah’s beautiful voice and the amazing sound that was achieved while Sarah was singing in the stack.

At the same time, Steve Ahoy, UNE’s Cultural Advisor in the Estate & Built Environment team, joined us for the visit and played some sweet sounds on his didgeridoo.  When both Sarah and Steve sang and played together within the base of the stack, it was magical.

With the success of our ‘music in the stack’ opera and digeridoo test, later in the week we also invited the children from the Yarm Gwanga Child Care Centre, located at the UNE campus, up to the Boilerhouse for an excursion. With their mini hi-vis vests, they looked quite the part! The children were excited to stand inside the stack and play with some noisy toys and instruments. Banging and tapping, singing and dancing.  What a thrill!  We then had them sing a few songs and even standing outside, it was an absolute pleasure to hear their small voices singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and sound so harmonious.

The diameter of the base of the stack is 4m which meant there was plenty of room to move but also small enough for an intimate performance. Out of interest, the height of the stack is 40m.

To hear for yourself some soundbites from all our musical stars, listen here!


How can music in The Boilerhouse Stack sound so good?

The stack is a long/tall chimney that acts like a great long pole, or you could view it as an extra-large organ pipe, and this is exactly how it behaves. When you are inside the stack and sing or produce other sounds, the sound you produce is reflected off the inside wall of the stack. As it is a confined space the reflected sound reinforces the produced sound and so it becomes quite harmonic. The more it is reinforced, the louder and purer the sound gets. Then, like an organ pipe the stack has a hole in its side and this is where the magnified sound is emitted, and it sounds wonderful!

Stay tuned (see what we did there) for Boilerhouse concepts as they are finalised.  We might share a few of them here. The stack is set to become part of a musical themed experience.