Unfrozen: Music Performed by Architects

Unfrozen Music

Showcasing the intersection between music and architecture, Shimahara Illustration is proud to present Unfrozen Music, a concert performed by an eclectic mix of Los Angeles area architects.

The Intersection between Music and Architecture

Structure, form, movement, cadence, light. The overlapping language often used to discuss work in the fields of both music and architecture represents only a prelude to the profoundly intimate duet shared by these two great art forms. Goethe’s assertion that architecture is frozen music goes the farthest by suggesting that in their essence the two are ultimately variations of the same thing.


Creative work begins with a narrative structure of some kind, even if highly abstracted or simplified. A story launched every ballad and building alike, from the whimsical hum of a child and the most perfunctory of rooms to the grandest opera and the house that holds it. These stories, the ideas and sketches that mark the initial impulse of a musical or architectural opus are foundational. Yet they are often indistinguishable, even to a degree, interchangeable. Consider the shape of a striking landform, the flowing movements of a swan, the ignominy of war. Did these ideas provide the inspiration for works by Saint-Saens, Calatrava, Sibelius, Libeskind, Stravinsky - or all of the above? Both the composer and designer readily pull from common, primal sources, and it is often upon the strength of their commitment to these stories that canonic works are crafted in both fields.


So art begins with a story, but when does music become music? When does architecture become architecture? If it is only the moment when song reaches the ear, or once shelter covers the head, then the production processes of music and architecture stand apart in their respective worlds of performance and construction. But if the lifeblood of music and architecture begins to flow the moment notes and lines are scribbled, drawn, or imagined, then these activities represent the when. Certainly, musical composition and architectural design are kindred worlds despite a wide range of variation and idiosyncrasies. For all composers and architects in some form or another address a problem, wrestle with inspiration and solutions, record their studies, relish epiphanies, subject themselves to criticism, and refine their creations until they cannot. Today, technology has brought the process of composition and design even closer with virtual reality providing the architectural equivalent of whistling. A designer’s proverbial hand-waving now produces actual architecture and even mimics the movements of a philharmonic conductor while doing so.


Fully experiencing works of music or architecture often means understanding the intentions behind them. Despite one art being rendered in time while the other is carved from space, the underlying narratives of both invite parallel readings. Even the Vitruvian Triad of firmness, commodity, and delight neatly complements the three pillars of music, namely rhythm, harmony, and melody. With this in mind, walking through architecture is essentially a musical experience: the structural grid marks steady time providing clues to the events within as the flow and scale of sequential spaces expand and contract around it like arpeggios on a stave. The building’s voice is carried by shaped forms of concrete, glass, and steel, but it is the timbre of the light which whispers in one room while soars in another, gathering the ensemble of spaces as a dynamic chorus ever seeking to share its story and inspiration with those who are willing to listen.

Unfrozen Music

Now in its eighth year, the event takes place Saturday, November 12th, 2016 on the MLK Auditorium stage of the Santa Monica Public Library, 7:30pm - 9:30pm. If you are in the Los Angeles area please come listen to these multi-faceted designers as they share how their work is informed by their love for classical piano, jazz, Hendrix, and a few surprises. Admission is free. For more information, please visit www.shimahara.net.


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Cite: "Unfrozen: Music Performed by Architects" 12 Oct 2016. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/797192/unfrozen-music-performed-by-architects> ISSN 0719-8884

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