Which open air spaces in Amsterdam East have the best acoustics for a spontaneous singing outburst? I grabbed my bike and made test recordings on a few squares, and, of course, in the Oosterpark.
(Dutch readers: here is your version: Zingen in de openlucht)
Why should we sing in the open air?
I have stepped on a lot of stages and have largely overcome my stage fright. But today I realized that my squareophobia still had a hold on me. Why in God’s name am I standing here, besides for the sake of this story?
Singing in the open air has its advantages, though. You get to hear your voice in a different manner. It gives you the opportunity to overcome the discomfort of singing in a strange location.
Reactions from the public
And you give people pleasure: something is going on. You get reactions from the people around you when you’re crazy enough to sing on the street. They often smile, or say something. Some try to tease you by imitating you. I always take that as a friendly gesture.
Then, occasionally, you get nice applause 🙂
I have been told that this square was rated the most beautiful of all Amsterdam squares. I decided to check out its acoustics right away 🙂
As I was warming up my voice, the crows let us all know they were there. I had a few human listeners too on that August Thursday morning. Some from "60 days" and some from "Stichting Cordaan" on the other side of the square.
- Acoustics: 8 out of 10, generous, yet not church-like
- Audience: polite and interested
- Traffic noise: hardly any
- Suitable for: a nice aria
2. Johanna ter Meulenplein
Strictly speaking this square is not in the Amsterdam East neighborhood, but across from it. Not many people know this place, for it is hidden by a massive former military base on the Sarphatistraat.
Once I launched my aria from "Così fan tutte", it stirred the curiosity of the toddlers from the Partou kindergarten. I got some applause, then they asked for more. I decided to record again. Check out the little ones in the background. Amazing how silent kids can be...
Ranking: Johanna ter Meulenplein
- Acoustics: 7.5 out of 10
- Audience: Toddlers and some tuned in bikers
- Traffic noise: Mauritskade is a slight nuisance
- Suitable for: A nice aria
On the Boerhaaveplein there was a bit more wind blowing.
I started singing a song by Thomas Campion: My love hath vowed. One of my favorite pieces, that I sang in my graduation recital.
- Acoustics: 6.5 out of 10.
- Audience: early guests of the Badhuistheater, a couple of street soccer players.
- Suitable for: beautiful Ancient Music
4. The Music dome in the Oosterpark
I had to wait my turn for the 'Muziekkoepel', because I will not interrupt a Tai-Chi group during its morning ritual, indeed not.
It came as a surprise that the sound under the dome was less loud than expected. I also detected some distortion, probably since the dome is mainly made of metal.
(The video recorded under the dome has sadly failed, the image was too shaky...)
Ranking: Music dome Oosterpark
- Acoustics: 6 out of 10 - a strange experience if you are a fan of echo
- Audience: joggers, bikers, early-morning beer enthusiasts
- Traffic: only bikers, faint car noise.
- Suitable for: post-Tai Chi heavy metal
Is it allowed to sing outside?
If you intend to pass around the hat, you might need a permit. If you sing for lols, the authorities will not stand in your way.
Singing on the bike is awesome too!
If you don't feel like working as hard as I did, you could simply sing on your bike. A good old Amsterdam-ish - or Dutch - habit, I understand.
Did you know that an artist has already thought of that concept, and created a bike-singing-lane? You'll find it in the Westerpark area.