How architecture helped music evolve / David Byrne

We love listening to TED talks as the speakers offer fresh perspectives and challenge us with thought provoking ideas. Today, we share David Byrne’s talk about music and architecture. Byrne chronologically moves through different architectural periods, noting the difference musical composition experiences as the years progress. For instance, the airy and flowing music that filled cathedrals became more textural with frequent changes in key as the size and shape shifted to become something like Carnegie Hall.

More about Byrne after the break.

As Byrne pointed out, certain types of music just seem to work better in specific places.  For instance, the type of music played in Gothic Cathedrals makes sense in that venue, and according to Byrne, it is as if that kind of space makes the music sound better.  The large high vaults of cathedrals would not do justice to Jazz pieces with their intricate melodies and sharp changes of pitch, just as similarly as subdued chords and elongated rhythms would not lend themselves best to a crowded bar fully of rowdy guests.  Even now, the layers that can be found in today’s music  are suited toward a person experiencing that song in an iPod.

This leads to Byrne’s main point that perhaps we make music to fit into these contexts; that perhaps, paraphrasing Byrne, rather than the romantic outlook of having passion and emotion and then shaping it into something, that we now have the passion but the vessel it’ll be poured into is there first.

Byrne finds music to be an adaptive medium that fits into a pre-established physical framework.  Is music written for a specific venue?  And if so, is that architectural venue a model for creativity?  What’s your take?

About this author
Cite: Karen Cilento. "How architecture helped music evolve / David Byrne " 15 Jun 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

You've started following your first account!

Did you know?

You'll now receive updates based on what you follow! Personalize your stream and start following your favorite authors, offices and users.