Tune In to the Music of Architecture

Jun - 20

Tune In to the Music of Architecture

It is a truism that structure is, as Goethe so famously noted, “frozen music” Just as in music, design has rhythm, beat, cadence, tone, style, etc.. And just as in music, structure can be gotten slowly, fast, forcibly, gently, sweetly, etc.. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that some of the greatest architects were accomplished musicians. For instance, Frank Lloyd Wright was a skillful pianist, having discovered the instrument at a really young age.

So let us see how some musical terms and their meanings relate to and may be applied to architectural design.

Gary Hutton Design

Adagio. In music, “adagio” means “to play slowly, to be at ease” Architectural spaces may also be “played” slowly and at ease. All these are spaces to linger in, to enjoy as if time did not exist. Soft colors and spare furnishings permit us to relax and take in the serene environment. Obviously, some rooms are like some tunes, designed to be a thanks (for 2).

Whitten Architects

Dolce. Simply put, “dolce” signifies “sweetly” and can be utilized to instruct the musician to play tenderly and with a light touch. In design, dolce is your care, detail and workmanship used to create a building or space or thing. Some places, like some music, can go beyond simply dolce and be seasoned dolce con affetto (with attachment).

Hanson Fine Building

Legato. Quite the opposite of staccato, legato gets the notes “tied together” such that you goes without split in the next. While design depends on articulation and differentiation (staccato) to create different rooms and reduce the overall scale of a structure, architects utilize components such as trimming to connect and tie the pieces together.

Mark Ashby Design

Ma non troppo. Musically “but not too much,” as in allegro ma non troppo (fast but not too quickly). The notion of “but not too much” is unquestionably applicable to interior and architectural design. It is the notion that not the whole room should be of the identical color, nor each shelf be filled to the brim. That understanding when to say when is vital.

186 Lighting Design Group – Gregg Mackell

Marcato. This is when a particular piece (notice, cable or passing in audio) is played louder and more forcibly. This is akin to the accent wall in architectural design. Perhaps another color or another material, the piece that is played marcato takes center stage and enriches the space it occupies.

Pastorale. In both music and architecture, this describes a composition that is peaceful and simple such as basic cubic volumes organized against a flat, green lawn. No adornment, just a bucolic milieu to which simple forms are inserted.

Christopher A Rose AIA, ASID

Sforzando. Architecturally and musically loudly, strong and with force. It may be a roof that’s lit for accent and then extends out into space aggressively, having all the aspects of a musical passage that’s played sforzando.

Eminent Interior Layout

Staccato. In music, staccato is making each note “short and detached,” substantially in the way that articulation does in design. Though they may all unite into a coherent whole, every slice is detached and separate from the surrounding pieces. So while the spaces are connected, each differs from another, as would be the items inside the spaces.

Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects

Vivace. While in audio “vivace” describes a composition that is very lively and up-tempo, in design it may refer to a style where there is a lot going on. Stairs, cable-suspended bridges, spaces that are connected vertically and horizontally, natural and artificial lighting that comes at us from many instructions and all the items that occupy the space produce an architecture that is decidedly vivace, maybe even vivacissimo (even livelier).

See related