Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 20 September 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Hungarian orchestra conductor invents sound-enhancing face mask: 'Music sounds much more beautiful'

Conductor Ivan Fischer says his masks help to emulate church acoustics, with warmer undertones and clearer, sharper contours

When he saw a sea of face masks around Budapest, Hungarian orchestra conductor Ivan Fischer had an idea – turn a pandemic necessity into a tool of music appreciation.

Fischer's music-enhancing face mask has two plastic cups shaped liked life-size hands attached to the mask's strings and designed to fit around the wearer's ears.

The innovation allows concert audiences in the age of the coronavirus to enjoy improved acoustics.

"I got to this idea that it should look like a hand because when we put our hands here," he said, cupping his palms around his ears, "we always understand the other person easier, we hear the consonants and the music sounds much more beautiful."

Speaking as the orchestra rehearsed for an evening of Beethoven and Strauss, Fischer,chief of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, said his masks helped to emulate church acoustics, with warmer undertones and clearer, sharper contours.

Fischer's invention is proving popular with audiences, with dozens of people wearing the mask as they took their seats at last Friday's performance.

The acoustic mask, which costs 8,000 forints (Dh97) if ordered through the orchestra's website, comes in glitter and black-and-white versions.

Audience member Zsuzsa Hunyadi-Zoltan said the sound was better with the special mask.

"It focused the music more. I tried it, I took it off and put it back on and one can clearly feel the difference," she said.

Updated: September 13, 2020 05:54 PM

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