Music Related Thesis Project


I am very interested in music and am trying to incorportate music into my thesis project this coming school year. i was thinking of designing some sort of music center for youth of low income families, inner city youth or something along those lines. i want to possibly include some form of lesson rooms (group and/or private lesson), recording studios, performance halls, etc...

i enjoyed the bit of acoustical engineering that i got into in one of my classes and im very interested in materials.

any input would be very much appreciated. references such as other projects(besides gehry), books, or websites would be great. also, ideas of similar types of projects i could do would be good.

thanx, eric

Aug 7, 05 6:52 pm
Mason White

a book: Site of Sound: of Architecture and the Ear

a film: Lisbon Story

Aug 7, 05 7:42 pm

there have been a spat of int'l competitions for concert houses + music centers of all sizes. so researching those could be a good source.
the new jazz venue @ lincoln center.
a competition if you were allowed to do it, would be good, because then you could submit it and possibly place, and that's hotel sierra on a resume.
rem just opened the new concert hall in oporto. if you have access to the magazine "wettbewerb aktuell" there are a ton of european references for these venues. also, you can search the details website in english, for specific venues.

mason, what year did you finish b.arch?

Aug 7, 05 7:58 pm

i think there's Pamphlet 27 periodical on this topic from the Princeton Press

Aug 7, 05 8:52 pm

found it, its called Architecture as a Translation of Music. not sure if this is exactly what youre looking for

Check out Tschumi's concert hall

Aug 7, 05 8:58 pm

my thesis dealt w/ music quite a bit.
here are some of sources that helped me:

bernhard leitner
jaque attali's 'noise'
most essays by lawrence grossberg.
john whiteman's 'divisible by 2' .

in terms of acoustics, i studied a great book that i can't remember the name of off the top of my was basically a collection of exquisite drawings (section perspectives, axons, etc.) of some of the most important concert halls throughout history...there were some good lessons.

Aug 8, 05 4:55 pm

my thesis dealt with music as well but in a different way - as a syntactic model for architecture - - -- understanding music as a construction in time and then focusing on orchestrating the passage of time in my project.

A couple texts were really helpful to me:

Thinking Architecture - Peter Zumthor
(i can't say enough about this little book - its the most accessible text on experiential qualities of space I've ever read)

Precis 18 - Interview with Robert Wilson and John Cage
(I prefer the way that Wilson speaks about music to Cage in this interview/article - go figure.)

I didn't get much use out of the Pamphlet Architecture - Architecture as a Translation of Music. This is most likely because I wasn't looking to translate music into architecture (although if I had been, it didn't seem to break any new ground in its approach to that either, imo)

there was one Hejduk project in particular that I really enjoyed looking at for the way it used interior color to activate one's awareness of the passage of time (the color in juxtaposition to apertures cut in the walls so that the changing sky was visible). i wish i could remember the name of the project...

Aug 8, 05 7:52 pm
Mason White

melivt - b.arch 1996 (im ol skool)

i wouldnt get too literal about it. "i am researching music, so i am designing a concert hall."

maybe the process of music composition or the expansive nature of sound could suggest how one experiences spaces (whether they be for a hospital with killer muzak in the elevators or a concert hall, seems to not matter any more).

for example, what if you were to take the idea of sampling in music and use that as a strategy for design. does it have a role in architecture without defaulting to postmodernism?

anyway, have fun, and try to surprise yourself.

cruise here for ideas.

Aug 8, 05 7:56 pm

etscott, I find Mason's advice quite sage. The problem with thesis projects in general (sure was in mine) is that they become more about the project's program than the architectural thesis itself. How do you want to translate the experience or generation of music into the building and into the building (noun and verb)? Is the core idea about instruction first and the music as subject matter secondary? Is the architecture tertiary? Is it about performance over community outreach? set your priorities, then follow the path the problem sets out in front of you.

Start with the idea and let that influence what the program should be, not the other way around. After dealing with any programmatic building typology for more than a year (as you will with a graduate thesis), you will want to have chosen something you enjoy...but the ideas should be coherent...this is your one chance to produce architecture based purely on the measured execution of ideas, make it count. Good Luck.

Aug 8, 05 8:20 pm
badass japanese cookie

The Soundscape of Modernity by Emily Thompson.

writings by xenakis.

Site of Sound is also good. It comes with a CD.

Good luck- this is a topic I am fairly interested in myself.

Aug 8, 05 8:47 pm

hmmm. very ineresting. have you considered any experimental spaces for the performance and experience of music.

and speaking of space and sound.... research some dj spooky articles or interviews.

"Well, if you think of the physics of sound, you can't have sound without space..."

its great mind candy if anything.

good luck, youve got a foxy topic.

Aug 9, 05 1:16 am

i just wrote a paper about Corbusier's Philips Pavilion.

he didn't actually design it, Xenakis did, although Corb came up with the concept. Corb tried to take credit for it when it was all said and done and Xenakis threw a hissyfit, quite Corbs office and many years later Corb, in some strange round about way, apologized. Corb was most obsessed with the trippy visual image display that accompanied the project including lots of gloom and doom images of the world followed with images of his projects as a suggestion of how the world could be saved.

aside from the architecture, it's a seminal project that more than anything defined what we know of today as electronica - or the use of 'musique concrete' - and the pairing of these sounds with visual imagery and the experience of space. Marc Trieb wrote a whole book on it called 'Space Calculated in Seconds.' Corb fought for Edgard Varese - a crazy avant garde modernist composer to be commissioned for the music rather than Benjamin Britten - staunch traditional Brit composer - and won out.

anyway, that's probably more than you wanted to know, but I love the concept of the project so much, and what has followed in music, space, and experience. something to look at.

Aug 9, 05 2:46 am
sporadic supernova

I love the topic. I did my thesis on "School for contemporary music" .. Actually had a smooth sailing through my thesis year. I was lucky enough to get access to "TWI" studios and do a case studies on how they treated sound. Also interviewed the guy who designed their studios.

Lots of low cost methods possible !!

Aug 9, 05 4:23 am

wow umm, I know this might sound crazy but where have you been all my life. I am will be entering my final year in undergrad architecture school and I want to work on something similar for my project can I get a copy of your thesis or at least some of your literature reviews, papers, texts or sources


yes i would also agree w/ instrumentOFaction and mason...a wise man once told me that so much of architecture is trying to achieve what music does in a 2 minute pop song. it would be a shame to make a literal connection...instead, i would concentrate on one of the multitudes of ways that music influences us, moves us, defines us, whatever and to make your thesis about learning from that and applying it to the field of architecture.

i once saw a lecture by steven holl here in atlanta. he was shortlisted for the new atlanta symphony orchestra and he was trying to convince the board at the symphony that he was the man for the job. he spent a good amount of time showing his stretto house, which he explained as a somewhat literal translation of a famous piece of music. personally, i thought he was a great speaker, but the musicians on the board (i found out later) thought that the stretto house was a complete joke and they found it absurd that this architect would even try to translate music into a building. as you may know, they chose calatrava, who showed them how his buildings would enrich the music, rather than mimic it. (i'm not a huge fan of the calatrava design myself, but i can see where the board was coming from).

anyway, hope this rambling helps.

Aug 9, 05 11:36 am
the cellardoor whore

i find the philips pavilion boring and xenakis' music as well
maybe its for the same reason some are bored with parametric-etc-etc blobs
nothing to do with 'atonality' berg composed beautiful music

an interesting because obvious way of forging intimate almost intuitive connections (as opposed to tortured 'intellectualism' that wavers between naive literalism and solipsistic number/pitch crunching ) is through musical video clips and films/sountracks
where the music and the cinematography add up

an instance the very different impressions made by avro part's Alina in kieslowski/tykwer's heaven and van sant's gerry, both of which have very deliberate scoping of the space around

the carefully choreographed beginning of 28 days later where the switch from one camera to another plays within the rythm of the music and the jarred angularity of the filmed space - not simply on the upbeats boyle's work is very rhythmic

the nyman/vierny/greenaway threesome where music is an additional
framing/staging device -pseudo baroque salon type-

bjork's collaborations with matthew barney (drawing restraint 9- im still waiting) michel gondry chris cunnigham

cat power/borthwick speaking for trees :)

your choice

and countless installations im sure

and i hardly think you need to think of "without defaulting to postmodernism"
as that opens up needless cans of worms one of which is what does
mason white mean by postmodernism - isnt the word postmodern already very...postmodern?

Aug 9, 05 7:04 pm

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