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Positioned about 10 miles southwest of Denver, Colorado, Pink Rocks Amphitheater is without doubt one of the world’s most beloved live performance venues. of traditional symphonies and the Beatles to John Denver and u2the record of artists who’ve performed at Pink Rocks because it started internet hosting live shows in 1908 is nearly so long as the amphitheater’s 2.5-seat miles.

The explanation for his excessive regard? A mix of pure geology, man-made structure, and near-perfect acoustics. However let’s begin with the rocks themselves, that are forming over lots of of thousands and thousands of years.


Benjamin Burke, an affiliate professor on the Colorado Faculty of Mines, explains that Pink Rocks is actually an historical delta, a 300-million-year-old accumulation of sedimentary rock that after belonged to what’s often called the ancestral Rocky Mountains. Just like the Rocky Mountains at this time, these mountains have been very excessive. However the forces of abrasion—wind, precipitation, and temperature—labored to deliver silty, sandy, and muddy waters downstream alongside a collection of enormous rivers.

These supplies created quite a few deltas within the space, together with the Flatirons area west of Boulder, Roxborough State Park close to Littleton, and the Backyard of the Gods west of Colorado Springs. Collectively, Pink Rocks and the remainder of these areas type the Fountain Formation. Though the composition of the area varies, the fabric that varieties Pink Rocks is principally sandstone of the poorly chosen selection; it ranges from sandy grains to bigger pavers, Burke says.

After historical storms hurled mud and sand down the mountains, they have been slowly compressed into rock by means of the geological means of lithification. Subsequent erosion of this rock sculpted the realm the place the amphitheater stands at this time. “The 2 rocks on both facet of the amphitheater are a bit extra resistant [to erosion], for no matter motive,” Burke says, referring to Ship Rock, the long-lasting purple stone face to the viewers’s left, and Creation Rock to its proper. Each spectacular vertically inclined rock formations are greater than Niagara Falls.

(Credit score: {Photograph} by Megan Mahoney/Shutterstock)

Providing the perfect views of Denver’s amphitheater and the encircling panorama, the highest of the Pink Rock seating space features a bronze plaque marking the place Fountain Formation rock collides with 1.7-billion-million-inch-old Precambrian rock. years previous that varieties the underside of the Denver Basin, Burke says. The oldest rocks on this space have been mined for silver and gold throughout numerous avalanches of valuable metals between 1858 and 1893, he provides.


In 1911, three many years earlier than it opened to the general public in its present architectural type, the world-famous Scottish opera singer maria backyard carried out the primary solo live performance at Pink Rocks. He commented that he had by no means heard extra good acoustic properties in any opera home on the planet.

Burke, who attends at the least one present a 12 months on the venue, admits he isn’t an audio engineer. However he affords a primary rationalization: Each Creation Rock and Ship Rock, mixed with the stage infrastructure constructed immediately in entrance of the disc-shaped rock often called Stage Rock, create a super sound switch.

“The constructing and the rocks in entrance of it ship the sound to the viewers,” he says. “The [rock] the partitions basically maintain that sound in, with out there being a ceiling the place there must be soundproofing. So that you get lots of outward projection with out the reverberation, if you’ll, of the enclosed area to [sound] to bounce.

The function of rocks within the acoustic profile might be extra on account of dimension and angle than composition, he continues. Whereas sandstone usually lacks any particular acoustic powers, it could have some marginal sound-absorbing properties in comparison with tougher rocks like granite. “On the whole, rock continues to be rock,” says Burke. “The truth that these partitions are there permits the sound to remain within the amphitheater however not get trapped and bounce backwards and forwards.”

The Seashore Boys carry out in live performance on July 9, 2012. (Credit score: TDC/Shutterstock Pictures)

There may be additionally the side of elevation. At 6,450 ft, sound truly travels a bit slower than at sea degree, due to each air strain and temperature. Whereas that in itself is just not perceptible to the human ear or mind, a singer’s efficiency in a rarefied air is likely to be.

“It is at all times enjoyable, as a Denver native, to look at artists rise from sea degree,” says Burke. “If the interpreter doesn’t know what he expects, that modifications the supply a bit. They find yourself out of breath.”

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