Before starting off with the article, I’d like to thank my friend from Dreamer’s Blueprint, Anika T, who wrote the first portion of this article. I am just adding my thoughts and words to her already published statements on her website.

What is the correlation between Music and Architecture?

The relationship between music and architecture has been a topic of speculation over the years. The definition of this relationship always varied from person to person and their perspective. Many people say music and architecture have many things in common, such as rhythm, texture, harmony, proportion, and dynamics. Some said colors are common (each note each RAGA in Indian classical music is associated with a color) and some said spatiality is common. Few others define the architecture to be frozen music as quoted by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, which sometimes is misinterpreted. By saying this he meant architecture produces the same tone in your mind as music.

Rhythm has much to do with the pattern.  Patterns can be found in both music, through beat and repetition, but can also be found in shapes or structural elements in architecture. The texture in music has to do with the layering of different sounds and rhythms with different instruments.  Materials in architecture can also display texture.  The combination of different materials can show a wide variety of different textures and how they can interact with each other. Harmony can be from the balance in a musical work or it can also be through a balance of a part to a whole.  Architecture can show harmony through the successful use of different materials or designs in a space together to become one unified space. The right proportions in music in intervals and notes can help create a harmony throughout the work.  Proportions with materials in architecture also create a balance.  The correct balance can harmonize an architectural setting. Dynamics deals with quality. Music and architecture need certain qualities and standards to make the works worthwhile and meaningful.

With the little knowledge that I have on the relationship between music and architecture, I think architecture and music are correlated. Without harmony and hierarchy, neither of them can place their identities. Also, the relation lies in the feeling. When you close your eyes and listen to some nice humming or tune, you feel the music. The same applies to any structure. When you touch any surface of a structure or a material, you feel the texture and the presence of harmony within the space.

Music and architecture can be parallel in many other ways than one.  Rhythm, texture, harmony, proportion, and dynamics all are tying into the arts in some way, whether it is through buildings or songs.  Either way, the overall qualities that music and architecture share can help inspire each other.  The more qualities in common, the more influence music and architecture can have on each other through emotions and the overall meanings of works.

“When I see architecture that moves me, I hear music in my inner ear.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

According to a text I read by the Amsterdam Academy of Architecture named “Music, Space and Architecture,” they talk about how we can concentrate on space and architecture, to deal with music, such as acoustics and qualities. By adding elements that make the music in them possible. One can also try to design a space in such a way that it forms a container for a single piece of music for which the designer intended it. Like the pavilion Zaha Hadid designed for performances of chamber music by Johann Sebastian Bach. She based her design on the meanings that she read into the work of Bach and then erected this pavilion in his name.

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Bach pavilion by Zaha Hadid. Via Pinterest.

Conversely, music can be tailored to a particular location and this be brought to architecture. Music and architecture can be tied together in a  subtle manner. Such is the way Le Corbusier does in his Philips Pavilion along with composer Iannis Xenakis. Xenakis was actually influenced by his own composition called Metastaseis. The pavilion is a cluster of nine hyperbolic parabolas in which music, was spatialized by sound projectionists using telephone dials. The speakers were inserted into the walls and created  a cavernous acoustic. As individuals walked in and out of the pavilion, Xenakis’s composition was heard.

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Phillips Pavilion by Le Corbusier and Iannis Xenakis. Via Pinterest.

All in all, architects must be aware that certain types of music seem to work better for specific places. Rap and hip-hop, for example, have their best encounters when found in car systems. Punk music can be found in asymmetrical buildings and structures and small places or pavilions. Jazz and concerts could also work inside of a cathedral, where the sharp pitch changes.

I think perhaps, architecture is less about a datum, a specific quantity or rhythm and pattern, than it is experiential. I mean, when a painter, for example the very well known artist Jackson Pollock creates his works, he does not pay attention to the relationship between music and art. If it were, he would create diagrams and assist himself in understanding the symphonies and compositions in a deeper level, but what he does is that he starts to feel it. He starts to FEEL the rhythm, however, he does not over complicate it and analyzes it.

Camilla Campbell, an artist, states “Pollock loved the freedom, tempo and energy of free-form jazz and bebop: he immersed himself in both the act of painting and the hot, spontaneous, swinging pace of the music. One contemporary critic rightly compared the “flare, spatter and fury” of his compositions to the direct, energetic quality of jazz music.” So why not showing off more than the ability to analyze as an architect and designer, but rather just let the music take you places. Feel it and listen to it over and over until you let the music set the mood for you and your design.

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Jackson Pollock, Autumn Rhythm (Number 30). Source.
Posted by:archiologist

I am a Masters Architecture student at Florida International University with a passion for architectural research and learning precedent studies. My interests include hand sketching and writing.

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