The chapel at a palace which used to be the royal residence of the Stewarts in the 15th and 16th centuries and is also the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots became the center for researchers experimenting with virtual reality and groundbreaking acoustic techniques to capture how music would have sounded when played at the now ruined site.
Scholars from the Edinburgh College of Art and the universities of Birmingham and Melbourne are collaborating with Historic Environment Scotland (HES) for the project.
Using a technique called LIDAR scanning that employs a rotating laser gun to take measurements of the building, they captured the Chapel Royal of Linlithgow Palace in West Lothian as it currently stands.
The historians at HES helped the team gain access to historical and architectural records to virtually reconstruct what the chapel might have looked like when James IV visited for Easter celebrations around 1512. They also added several elements to recreate the acoustics of the space including the roof, windows, a tiled floor, and objects including an altar, throne, and drapes.
The music that may have actually been performed in the space was chosen for the project along with some picked from the Carver Choirbook, one of only two large-scale collections of music to survive from pre-Reformation Scotland.
Singers from the Binchois Consort used an anechoic chamber to record the music which was further overlaid with the reconstructed acoustic modeling of the chapel.
Kit Reid, Senior Interpretation Manager at HES, stated, “We are pleased to have worked with Edinburgh University on this project and have been working closely with them to provide historical research and using laser-scanning data to create this virtual reality project which provides a unique window on the past.”
“Visitors at the palace and our other properties love to imagine how these sites used to look and picture what life was like.”
“What makes this project so special is the emphasis on not just the visual recreation but also the recreation of the authentic soundscape which gives an immersive insight into the court life at the palace over 500 years ago.”
Hyperion Records has launched the virtual reality experience in a CD format as well as through an app.
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