Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Music and Architecture

Architecture Becomes Music 6 May, 2013 By Charles Jencks

form and content

sound and sense

heighten the senses and make one perceive more sharply and emotionally.

Music is
. Stravinsky showed with Sacre that the time­imperative could be satisfied by a quick change from tonality, to rhythm, to tune, to orchestration - any driving pattern as long as the force goes forward compulsively.  experienced over time, whereas   architecture is grasped as a spatial whole

cosmic connections in simple ratios such as 1:1 (a sound repeating itself, or the architecture of a square room), and 2:1 (the octave, a string doubled or halved in  length, or in building the double­square front of a temple).

and then with the perfect harmonic sounds they produced (called ‘the perfect octave,  the perfect fifth (3:2)? the perfect fourth’ (4:3) and so on.

 geometrical ratios then united it to ceremonial architecture

 How different this is from a symphony which cannot, ordinarily, be sped up or  slowed down by the perceiver? or read backwards as architecture can be from the exit? or top­down as with a skyscraper.

 Pythagorean   proportions of column to intercolumniation, front to side, and   width to height (roughly 2:1 here) also determine many other   relationships of  the Greek temple

Architecture is a variably perceived art.

the feeling of finality by the absolute contrast between sunlight and blackness.

 this feeling of panic

 isolated, staccato beat Light/Dark, A/B

suddenly appear and disappear randomly

 stillness, or a shriek by silence

natural and conventional meanings in so simplified a form they raise  emotions to a high pitch.

 The composer Pérotin, working at Notre Dame in Paris

 harmonies of three and four melodies stacked above each other.

 stacking three or four levels (arcade, triforium, gallery, clerestory) in equivalent chords pleasing to the eye

 architectural polyphony,

Their experiments with four voices, and simultaneous clusters of chords, are  more complex than the nave elevation and much cheaper to build in music than stone. They emphasised harmonic ratios such as 3:2 (called with explicit Godly  overtones, ‘the Perfect Fifth’) and 4:3 (‘the Perfect Fourth’) and drew them  on lined bars as if they were the cornice lines drawn by the master builder

 more subtle harmonic relationships of 5:4 (‘the Major Third’) which was more  upbeat and happy than the poignant ratio of 6:5 (‘the Minor Third’) which became common to the melancholic laments, their Miserere.

Pérotin was superimposing one plainsong chant on top of another: musical   and architectural harmony developed in parallel through notation systems.

But it is to say the emotional experience of each is very different from the analysis, a point brought out when you enjoy a building inattentively as part of a background

The first are solid and stone relationships set in sequence, now it is the void and space seen as a whole, and contemplated with the entire meaning of the church (the heavenward gesture

We take the space in at a glance, while music is necessarily experienced in parts over time, and the two media are as opposed as light waves from acoustic waves.

Above all it is the heightening of emotions which in music, and with cathedrals and concert halls, is a common goal. Musicians are often taught the six basic moods, and modes, they can stress - sadness, joyfulness, fearfulness, tenderness, love and anger - and emotional articulation could be defined as a purpose of music.

where architecture and music have similar intent: extreme emotional arousal.

Extreme emotion and neutrality  

When he was 24, Le Corbusier experienced the Parthenon in vivid metaphors - ‘a brazen trumpet that proffers a strident blast

serene, harmonious peacefulness - is evoked by the Taj Mahal,

as Mozart juxtaposed joyful play versus seriousness

Beethoven’s signature trope - the loud flourish was followed by absolute silence

 Most of his large public spaces have a highly sculptural figure absorbed into and yet contrasted with a background massing, particularly the roofline.

The contrasting and smoothing of elements work to great effect.

Sturm und Drang

Architecture and music thus are not only supremely emotional, at moments, but semantic and meaningful at other times

. Music must provoke our expectation to want the next moment. Call this latent desire the ‘time­imperative’ of the dramatic arts, those that unfold in a sequence  of time.

unity of form and content

 The strength of our buildings is the immediate, visceral impact they have on a  visitor.’

 upwards and diagonal emphasis.

Reading horizontally gives some basic melodic lines, while   reading vertically  reveals both harmony and dissonance.

The result is contextual counterpoint, at once beautiful, funny and truthful.

Are musical chords like space? The parallels I have been pointing out between music and architecture - rhythm, emotion, meaning and the stereotype of genre - are well known and accepted. One omparison, however, is contentious: the equation between the spatial and time arts.

We project the future onto the present, the next phrase or chord onto music, the next  room inside a building - all the arts aspire to this condition of drama.

As brain­scans have shown recently, music opens up the equivalent three dimensional world inside our heads, the area of sight.

Rather, I believe, it is the lack of local momentum, the way randomness destroys the all­ important ‘time­imperative’

Some expectations must be created, whether by rhythm, tonality, themes, melody, or anything (including gesture and silence) for the mind and body to anticipate the next moment, the near future.

 but the spatial ones allow a perceiver’s participation and control in a way the time arts do not.

There is tonality but it is always melding, there are rhythms but they are always morphing.  

‘Man is a goal­seeking animal

 His life only has meaning if he is reaching out and striving for goals.’   This has its parallel in the arts which, as they unfold, generate their own goal.
The timeimperative means that if our attention is not grabbed every now and then by both pattern recognition and the expectation of the   new, we will not be engaged. Putting together these thoughts, and the analogy between music and architecture, leads to further conclusions. The basic means in
common between the two arts consist in rhythm, harmony, emotional intensity, meaning, the reliance on stereotype (or genre) and the progression of chords  (or the comparison to an architectural journey through space). Many other details and figures are shared, such as chromaticism and glissandi, the use  of overtones and morphing. Architectural and musical ornament can sometimes  be more important than structure, and boredom and background are necessary for both arts.

Music, as a time­art, is also much more controlling and authorial, and not  meant to be experienced backwards or shift in speed with the perceiver