Editor’s note: The following item is republished with permission of houzz.com. See the original article: Tune In to the Music of Architecture.
By BUD DIETRICH
It’s a truism that architecture is, as Goethe so famously noted, "frozen music." Just as in music, architecture has rhythm, beat, cadence, tone, style, etc. And just as in music, architecture can be experienced slowly, quickly, forcibly, gently, sweetly, etc. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that some of the greatest architects were accomplished musicians. For example, Frank Lloyd Wright was a proficient pianist, having learned the instrument at a very early age.
So let’s see how some musical terms and their meanings relate, and can be applied, to architectural design.
In music, "adagio" means "to play slowly, to be at ease." Architectural spaces can also be "played" slowly and at ease. These are spaces to linger in, to enjoy like time didn’t exist. Soft colors and spare furnishings allow us to relax and take in the serene environment. Of course, some rooms are like some songs, made to be a duet (for two).
Photo credit: Gary Hutton
Marcato is when a particular piece (note, cord or passage in music) is played louder and more forcibly than others. This instance is akin to the accent wall in architectural design. Maybe a bright or interesting color or a different material, the piece that is played marcato takes center stage and enriches the space it inhabits.
Photo credit: 186 Lighting Design Group – Gregg Mackell
Sforzando: architecturally and musically loud, strong and with force. It can be a roof that’s lit for emphasis and then extends out into space aggressively, a sforzando architectural moment.
Photo credit: Christopher A Rose AIA, ASID
In music, staccato calls for making each note "brief and detached," similar to the practice of articulation in architecture. Though they combine into a coherent whole, each piece is separate from those around it. So, while the spaces are connected, visually, thematically, each is distinct from the other, as are the objects.
Photo credit: Eminent Interior Design
In music "vivace" refers to a composition that is very lively and up-tempo; in architecture, it can refer to a design with a lot going on. Stairs, cable-suspended bridges, spaces connected vertically and horizontally, natural and artificial lighting from many directions and all the objects that inhabit a space can create an architecture that is decidedly vivace, maybe even vivacissimo (even livelier).
Photo credit: Ehrlich Architects
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