Architecture vs. Music

While attending Cal Poly Pomona I had an architectural instructor name Steven Bocher. As a “Greek”, he believed in cafes in front of every project. He likened the music shared by all as the sole and integral piece of the architecture, the spirt of the space. Standard ABCBA patterns in architectural elevations as in musical scales was pointed out. Music and architecture have similar patterns. I am a space designer. I feel the space. I always have.

I have just finished reading Keith Richards autobiography. He is a musician and cares for the music. Being the popular Rolling Stones lead guitar guy keeps him in the loop with many high performing people all over the world. That almost sounds like a great architect and his design teams.

Keith describes Music as ”where the sounds just melt into one another-- you’re looking for its power and force, without volume—an inner power a way to bring people together -- making one sound.” “It becomes almost an obsession. The heart is in the connection. -- Each touching of the bases, creating a thread that runs through all of us.” This is the feel of great architecture! Wow! He might have been a great architect if he could play the part the clients and governments require. He is an “out of the box” man. Many great figures are.

Throughout my Architectural studies, I was taught to have a parti, one strong theme that runs through the individual design. That is hard for me. I like many ideas tied together. One of Keith’s thoughts on this are “Getting down to the bare bones of a riff --- the song would fall into place – find the first few chords and the rest will fall into place of its own volition – you can figure out the other things like the bridging in the middle later – the immediacy in retrospect made it even more interesting – a little sparkle of an idea – it will be a beautiful thing.” Most of his ideas sound just like how I feel when designing buildings, spaces, and then filling in on the details and specifications.

“Great songs write themselves.” Great sites do the same for architecture. “You’re just being led by your nose or ears – The skill is not to interfere with it too much. At a point ignore intelligence, ignore everything and just follow it where it takes you. You really have no say in it—songs write themselves, you’re just the conveyor. – What kind of sound, what tempo, what key.” How did Frank Lloyd Write design Falling Water in 30 minutes? “You can tell how much calculation has gone into it.” Is it muddy? Can you tell if there is heart in the drawings? Did the architect feel out the site and work within the sweet spots? “How free flowing is it? “How little can you put into it? -- Tame the beast.—there is a relationship with songs. Songs should come from the heart –let the stuff come out – it will arrive.” The love of architecture, or is it music? “It is sheer pleasure, a wonderful gift, it amazes”

I work with a healer. Her name is Vivian Jaye. She helps me stay grounded on this planet and knows me very well. Type A personality. She advises me to expand my horizons and start collaborating with others on bigger design issues. I have started that. Toward the end of the book, Keith says, “What you really want is for music to love you. It takes a certain amount of respect for the process. You’re not writing it, it’s writing you.” What a great analysis of the design process. It is how I work on custom projects. It is never up to me. The site, client, and design parameters decide what can and should be located on any project. The design falls into place. These are always the best-designed projects.

It all goes back to Steven Bocher, and my time at Cal Poly Pomona. “All ARCHITECTURE should sing to you”!