User Tools

Site Tools


ANR PHEND : The Past Has Ears at Notre Dame (2020-2024)

PHEND is a French collaborative research project funded by the ANR (ANR-20-CE38-0014). Partners in the project include researchers from a wide range of disciplines, all with an interest in the sonic history of the Notre-Dame cathedral.

Additional funding has been provided by the CNRS, through the MITI Notre-Dame program with a PhD scholarship.


  • Institut Jean Le Rond d'Alembert, Sorbonne Université, Paris
  • Centre André Chastel (CAC) : Laboratoire de recherche en histoire de l'art, Sorbonne Université, Paris
  • Institut de recherche en Musicologie (IReMus) , Sorbonne Université, Paris
  • Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (MSH) Lyon St-Etienne, Lyon
  • Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris (CNSMDP), SACRe (Sciences, arts, création, recherche), Paris
  • Sunmetron, Agence d'architecture présentant des compétences en création, réhabilitation et restauration d'édifices, Paris
  • Narrative, Producteur pour les nouveaux médias, Paris


When we think about great architectural achievements in history, such as Gothic cathedrals, their importance is strongly tied to their acoustic environment. The acoustics of a heritage site is an intangible consequence of the space’s tangible construction and furnishings. It is ephemeral, while also a concrete result of the physical nature of the environment. Through this project, we will explore how via measurements, research, and virtual reconstructions the acoustics of one of France’s most notable heritage spaces can be documented, reconstructed, and experienced by both researchers and the general public. Inspired by the project’s namesake (Phé, for the constellation Phoenix), the project focuses on the digital reconstruction of Notre-Dame de Paris, a world heritage site, bringing it back from the ashes, examining its evolution and importance in history, and working with the restoration team on its future. The consortium comprises research teams in SHS and STIC, with experience in historical, musical, architectural, and acoustical research.

Research themes

Sound Landscapes

Singing/architecture interaction and the School of Notre-Dame, polyphonic singing

Evolution of Notre-Dame's acoustics over the centuries

Ineligibility / clarity of song and speech

The organs of Notre-Dame


"La Vierge 2020" Hearing the Past: an immersive virtual audio concert for the ears

Production project : Recreation of the performance of "La Vierge" for the 850th anniversary of Notre-Dame Cathedral

As an initial production, a pre-project deliverable, coinciding with the International Year of Sound ( and to commemorate the fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral on April 15, 2019, members of the PHEND team (researchers and sound engineers) created a virtual reconstruction of a 2013 performance recording made in the cathedral, recreating the monumental acoustics and the event.

"Looking for Notre-Dame" An immersive sound fiction

Production project Looking for Notre-Dame, in 4 Episodes is available in full on Audible, free for active subscribers, or direct listening HERE. Available in French and English.

Looking for Notre-Dame is a 3D sound experience that plunges us into the mind of the young Victor Hugo as he begins his research for his future “cathedral novel”, Notre Dame de Paris. The year is 1828. Hugo is 26 years old. Notre-Dame was then a church in a dilapidated state. It would only be renovated by Viollet-le-Duc and Jean-Baptiste Lassus in 1843. Notre-Dame was dying, and Hugo wanted to resurrect it as it had been in the Middle Ages. The legendary author plunges us into an investigation / experiment on the sound of Notre-Dame, allowing us to explore its acoustics and soundscapes over the centuries.

"Notre-Dame Whispers" An autonomous immersive audio-guide

Production project Notre-Dame Whispers is available for free for Android and iOS in French, English, and Spanish.

“Shhh… Notre-Dame is speaking to you… Listen up! Experience an extraordinary sensory journey around the famous Parisian monument. Explore from viewpoint to viewpoint and immerse yourself in thrilling stories narrated by the oldest lady in Paris. Grab your headphones, your phone, and get ready to dive in. Live each story from the inside, as if you were there. Along a route composed of 6 listening stations, Notre-Dame shares her memories, which you collect one by one to recreate the rose of her memory.


Press articles about this project can be found in the section: In The Press

Our scientific and editorial publications related to this project can be found on the national document depository : HAL ANR-20-CE38-0014.


  • Presentation of some preliminary results presented at the I3DA conference in 2021 : “Virtual Notre-Dame: Preliminary results of real-time auralization with choir members” (preprint)

  • Presentation of “La Vierge 2020” production and survey data presented at the I3DA conference in 2021 : “La Vierge 2020 : Reconstructing a virtual concert performance Through Historic Auralisation of Notre-Dame Cathedral” (preprint)

  • Keynote presentation “Digitally exploring the acoustic history of Notre-Dame cathedral,” at EuropeanaTech, 2023.

  • Notre-Dame, la part des sciences | Micro-conférence | Les échappées inattendues

  • Archéologie sonore : quand l’acoustique devient un patrimoine common

  • « Reconstitutions acoustiques et sonores virtuelles de Notre-Dame », au colloque Naissance et renaissance d’une cathédrale, Notre-Dame sous l’œil des scientifiques, la Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine de Paris, 22 au 24 avril 2024. (liens video)


If you have any question or comments, please contact

phend.txt · Last modified: 2024/07/16 19:25 by katz