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In today’s bulletin, Father Hilton writes:

TWO VOLUNTEER POSITIONS NEEDED!

When we open our beautifully renovated church in May, there are two important volunteer positions that will need to be filled in order to help make our Sunday Masses run smoothly.

The two positions are:

Coordinator of Bell Ringers

When the new church is opened, our new bells will joyfully ring out for five minutes before every Saturday evening and Sunday Mass! The glad sound of the bells will call us to the Holy Mass and to prayer with adoration of our God. Two parishioners will be needed at each Mass to perform this ministry of bell ringing. It will be the job of the new Coordinator to sign-up bell ringers, train them and make up a monthly schedule. This volunteer position is perfect for someone who loves the Mass, likes working with people and is well organized. If you’re interested, call Fr. Hilton and he will give you all the details.

Coordinator of Sound Engineers

Our newly renovated church will have a sound engineer’s booth in the choir loft, which will allow us to constantly adjust sound levels and music mixing during the Holy Mass. This will result in a dramatic increase in the quality of sound of our music during Mass and help everyone present to hear clearly the priest and lectors. The sound booth will require a trained sound engineer to be present for each of the Masses of Saturday evening and Sunday. It will be the job of our new Coordinator of Sound Engineers to recruit and train sound engineers for each of the weekend Masses and to make up a monthly schedule. This volunteer position is perfect for someone who knows and loves sound equipment, likes working with people and is well organized. If you’re interested, please call Fr. Hilton.

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Tweaking the Reverb

The reverberation period is the number of seconds that sound will linger in a given space. Specifically, it is the amount of time in seconds that sound energy will take to drop 60 decibels after the source has ceased producing a tone.

The science of sound has been a topic that I’ve been interested in for a while, starting with my work in the 1980’s developing a performance space with Hunger Artists Ensemble Theatre. We ran into many problems with acoustics and sound separation. Eventually, we had to cancel the project because we couldn’t solve the sound problems. Good sound is important, in theatres and churches.

Consultant Scott R. Riedel authored the pamphlet Acoustics in the Worship Space (AITWS), which is part of the Church Music Pamphlet Series edited by Carol Schalk. AITWS is a tight, technical document which addresses many of the acoustical issues which need to be considered in building or renovating a church.

One of those issues is reverberation, or reverb. Riedel says,

In rooms to be used for liturgical worship, where speech, corporate spoken response, corporate singing, and liturgical choral and organ music are the primary sound sources, a reverberation period near two seconds at mid-range frequencies is desired.

My copy of AITWS arrived last week, and I’ve been studying it in hopes of learning more about the science of acoustics. AITWS points out the different effects that different surfaces have on sound. When a sound wave hits a surface, the energy will be either reflected, absorbed or transmitted. The material and geometry of the surface will determine what happens to the sound. The geometry part is complex (especially for a liberal arts major who struggled with trigonometry in college) but the material effects are pretty straightforward. Reidel offers this chart, which is straightforward enough to use without calculus.

Sample List: Percent of Sound Energy Absorbed by Materials (per square foot of material) (@ 500 Hz.)

Unglazed Brick 3%
Glazed Brick 2%
Unpainted Concrete Block 31%
Painted Concrete Block 6%
Drywall 5%
Marble 1%
Plaster 3%
Plywood Panel 17%
Plate Glass 4%
Drapery 55%
Acoustical Tile 70%
Terrazzo 1%
Glazed Tile 1%
Carpeting (average) 60%
Wood Pew, Occupied 75%
Wood Pew, Unoccupied 39%
Padded Pew, Occupied 96%
Padded Pew, Unoccupied 88%

Here’s the same chart sorted from lowest absorbance to highest.

Marble 1%
Terrazzo 1%
Glazed Tile 1%
Glazed Brick 2%
Unglazed Brick 3%
Plaster 3%
Plate Glass 4%
Drywall 5%
Painted Concrete Block 6%
Plywood Panel 17%
Unpainted Concrete Block 31%
Wood Pew, Unoccupied 39%
Drapery 55%
Carpeting (average) 60%
Acoustical Tile 70%
Wood Pew, Occupied 75%
Padded Pew, Unoccupied 88%
Padded Pew, Occupied 96%

What these charts mean is that we’ll need to consider using a variety of materials to improve the sound quality. The numbers point out why the sound in the Overflow (plaster, drywall, glass, painted concrete block) is so bad. They also show that every square foot of fabric we put in the church will require us to add more power to the sound system amplifier. These are all trade-offs that we’ll have to address.

Sound and acoustical issues will impact one of our primary goals – Proper Accommodation of the Music Ministry. Fortunately, we have planned to use the services of an acoustical consultant to help us sort out these issues.

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To help the renovation committee focus on the project priorities, architect Adam Hermanson asked us to list our thoughts on a pre-design questionnaire. This series of daily questions will allow parishioners to do the same. I’ll post one question per day for comment.

The seventh question is:

How could the Music Ministry better serve the Church??

Please share your thoughts in the comments section. Click the “How To Post Your Comments” tab above for instructions on how to share your thoughts.

Click these links to see Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4, Q5 and Q6.

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hitchcock_secret_agent.jpgOne of our parishioners sent the following suggestions in an e-mail. When I asked if I could post her suggestions, she said yes, if I would keep her identity private. The ideas she suggests are good, so I happily agreed in order to keep this conversation going. (That really isn’t her in the image at right.) Here are the suggestions from “Secret Agent T.”

Hi Troy, Thanks for sending this to me. It’s a great idea to open this up to everyone.I do have some ideas, which I’d like you to bring up in your next meeting. I know sometimes the budget does limit our wishes. According to my experience, these are my suggestions:
  1. Location of the choir: It would work out better in the South side instead of the North side, because:
    a) the sacristan has to go around the choir and cables, making it dangerous or difficult for her to go to the sanctuary
    b) When we open the overflow, the noise from the overflow is amplified by the microphones used by the choir.
  2. The ventilation during the year is not appropriate. There are spots where you get too cold or too warm. During the Spanish Masses, the air does not circulate, either in the winter or in the summer.
  3. I’d like to see the overflow more as part of the church, when we open it up for Mass. It’s not an inviting worshiping area. Perhaps this area could be turned into a cry room, with a glass in between the overflow and the church.
  4. The sound system needs to me more friendly and easier to adjust according to the needs. If the sound system was to be improved, it’d be ideal to have some speakers in the outside of the church for special celebrations such as: Palm Sunday, Easter Vigil, Corpus Christi, etc.
  5. A video recording system would be ideal for special celebrations, such as Father’s 25th Anniversary, 1st Communions, Confirmations, baptisms, etc.
  6. For the safety reasons, the doors of the church need to be “lockable”, meaning with a bar. Right now, we lock those doors and if someone wants out, he/she unlocks it and leaves, leaving the church vulnerable.
  7. The South doors to the church let the light through, which at certain times of the day can be very bothersome — blinding those facing that door, in our case the choir and the people seating in the overflow.
  8. A picture or statue of the Holy Trinity is a must for me, since we don’t have one single image with the Holy Trinity.
  9. I understand this is just a renovation and not an expansion, but we should consider adding to the capacity and not taking away.
  10. Marble or tile floors would be easier to take care of.

Thank you for your involvement and I am looking forward to the new renovation final plans.

T

The good news for Secret Agent T is that, except for #5, the committee has considered all these suggestions. Some of these are easy to address (#6) and some are a bit more challenging (#2 & #9).

Please e-mail your suggestions, and share your thoughts in the comments.

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