Saturday, November 03, 2007

Just say no to carpet

Jeffrey Tucker at NLM has posted an excerpt of a brochure from Reidel and Associates, a firm that provides consulting services for worship spaces. They pretty well precisely echo my sentiments on carpeting in church. Of course, they also have a little more evidence for their stance than do I but it is good to see that uncomfortable feeling I've always had about carpet has a basis in fact. In part they say:

The floor is typically the building surface that is largest and nearest to worshipers and musicians. It is important that the floor be reflective of sound, particularly near musicians, since it provides the first opportunity for much sound energy to be reinforced. Carpet is an inappropriate floor covering in the worship space; it is acoustically counterproductive to the needs of the worshipers. The mood of warmth and elegance that carpeting sometimes provides can also be provided with acoustically reflective flooring such as quarry tile or wood that is of warm color and high quality. The notion that the worshiper covers the floor surface, making its material composition acoustically unimportant is false. The large floor area of the worship space has great acoustical influence. Appropriate floor materials include slate, quarry tile, sealed wood, brick, stone, ceramic tile, terrazzo, and marble.
Some may consider using absorbing materials such as carpeting or acoustical tile to suppress noise from the congregation. Noise from shuffled feet or small children is usually not as pervasive as might be feared. It is unwise to destroy the proper reverberant acoustical setting for worship in deference to highly infrequent noisy behavior.
In other words: first, don't fear the children; second, let the congregation hear the music. It's amazing how much some parishes will invest in organs or in training for their choirs only to ruin the music by forcing them to sing on carpet.