But what’s the link?

It’s been just about a week since our first session (Architecture in Combination with Music), and despite an extremely  interesting presentation by Mani Mani (www.fishtnk.com) on his Tunable Sound Cloud, I still have questions on what it means to combine architecture and music. Granted this is a rather old debate, but judging from the number of projects that use some aspect of music or sound to drive the design, it seems to still be an active one. So here it goes.

Firstly, what is the role of music in design? Is it purely to produce data that can be fed into a geometry producing script? Can any of the emotional content of the music be revealed in the design? Should it be? And secondly, are there any practical advantages to having music as a design driver?

I’d say the most solid connection between music and architecture comes from the world of acoustics. The idea is that acoustically driven forms will enhance the performance (or at least try to), and conversely, every aspect of a given geometry can be valued in terms of how much it contributes to that performance. Unfortunately, this is a very idealized state and any acoustician will tell you that it’s just not that simple. It also completely ignores the content of the music.

Maybe there’s a kind of organizational principle hidden inside the rhythmic structure of fugues? Who knows….?



Filed under Architecture, Discussion Series, Launch, Music

2 responses to “But what’s the link?

  1. SY

    Music and architecture share many common elements, most notable of which are rhythm and repetition. These create harmony, one of the principles of organization used in art/architecture and music. Several aspects of music can be used to drive geometry and design: the pitch of notes can dictate high/low points on a surface, dynamics/changes in volume can relate to different sizes of elements, duration of notes/rests to designate spacing of elements, musical sequences can be translated into staggered/layered features. A mixture of materials/textures/colors in the structure mimics various instruments in the symphony. Music tempo can be correlated to the visual movement of a form, as was done in the design of the Toronto Music Garden. By using the above to express/visualize the emotional content of music, would the structure be optimized? Again, this goes back to the debate of practicality vs. artistic expression, in this case an architectural concept based on fugues.

  2. Although all that is true, it still doesn’t address the nature of the relationship. For instance, why would high notes be interpreted as high/low points of a surface. Why not something else? The relationship you have outlined is simply one of many potential relationships. Which is fine, because it is quite coherent and well organized , but ultimately it is a definition of a relationship, not a consequence. And as someone once said: “definitions are never wrong, only useless…”.
    Is it possible to narrow down that (infinite) list of potential relationships to the ones that are not only coherent and well organized, but that also add some extra property or “use” to the overall design?

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