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Fall Focus on the Arts and Humanities: Music + Architecture: The Spatial Translation of Schenkerian Analysis
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00091523/00605
 Material Information
Title: Fall Focus on the Arts and Humanities: Music + Architecture: The Spatial Translation of Schenkerian Analysis
Series Title: Journal of Undergraduate Research
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Agarwala, Vibha
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: Fall 2011
 Subjects
Subjects / Keywords: hierarchy
layering
Stretto House
Bartok
composer
Bach
Long Stringed Instrument
chorale
Genre: serial   ( sobekcm )
 Notes
Abstract: Architecture and music share unexplored design and analytic frameworks. In tonal music, Schenkerian Analysis is a method that demonstrates the hierarchy of the composition's musical structure. This methodological approach provides an understanding of the composition’s most basic framework and its most refined ornamentation. This paper argues that reductive analysis can be applied to architecture to generate a similarly systematic approach in the design process. Ultimately, reductive analysis can be used to develop new methodologies in the process of design.
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Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: sobekcm - UF00091523_00602
System ID: UF00091523:00605

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University of Florida | Journal of Undergraduate Research | Volume 13 Issue 1 | Fall 2011 1 Music + Architecture: The Spatial Translation of Schenkerian Analysis Vibha Agarwala College of Design, Construction, and Planning, University of Florida Architecture and music share unexplored design and analytic frameworks. In tonal music, Schenkerian Analysis is a method that demonstrates the hierarchy of the composition's musical structure. This methodological approach provides an understanding of the ive analysis can be applied to architecture to generate a similarly systematic approach in the design process. Ultimately, reductive analysis can be used to develop new methodologies in the process of design. INTRODUCTION Both music and architecture are mediums through which creativity is expressed. Music is defined as the art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color. While the origin of these ideas cannot be defined they can be expressed in many forms. A creative idea expressed through one medium, such as music, can be expressed through another medium, such as architecture. Both the architect and the composer utilize these mediums in order to have a n effect on the audience. Ultimately, it is up to observers to determine how they experience the musical composition or space. However, a successful piece of work can help guide one through the work with the same perception as the creator. To make this hap pen, one needs to understand the very fundamentals of expression as they apply to music and architecture. The research process began with precedence studies of architectural works that are influence d by various fundamentals of music as well as architectura l works that inform musical compositions. A comparison was then made between these works in order to understand how these musical elements translate into the formation of a space. Through this analysis a new methodological approach known as Schenkerian An alysis was found to successfully translate a musical composition into a space architecturally. PRECEDENCE STUDIES Long String Instrument Previous comparisons between architecture and music showcase different approaches as to how architecture is defined through music as well as how music is defined through architecture. One method explore s the spatial qualities of a construct through elements of sound, noise, and its acoustic qualities. In this case, music is defined through architecture. An examp le of this approach is Ellen Long String Instrument (Figure 1) Inside a warehouse in Austin, Texas exists 120 long strings that are suspended at waist height. The occupant of the space becomes the performer as one enters the installation and m oves a long the wires in order to create music. 1 The different movements of the audience within the space result in a musical composition that is unique to the interaction with the space. Here, the audience and the architecture define the musical composition. Figure 1. The Long String Instrument Source: The Austin Chronicle The Stretto House T he next example illustrates how architecture is defined through music. The Stretto House by Steven Holl narrows the relationship between music and architecture to number, rhythm, notation, and proportion. 2 Holl perceives music and architecture as two unknowns and through the Stretto House he creates an equation in order to s olve for the unknowns: 3

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VIBHA A GARWALA University of Florida | Journal of Undergraduate Research | Volume 13 Issue 1 | Fall 2011 2 materia l x sound = material x light time space Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta The layering system that exists expression a long a structural framework based on the Fibonacci sequence. 4 The contrasting elements of musicality and a rigid framework within a multi layered system create a systematic approach in the design of the house. The sketches in Figures 2 and 3 show the process of how Holl begins to spatially define these contrasting elements. Figure 2 Spatial d iagram of the Stretto House The linear grid represents the proportions of the Fibonacci sequence and is juxtaposed against the curvilinear Source: Steven Holl, Stretto House Figure 3 Plan and section d iagram of Stretto House The plan and section represent the different components of the house. It is composed of four sections to reflect the four movements of the piece. Source: Steven Holl, Stretto House

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THE SPATIAL TRANSLAT ION OF SCHENKERIAN A NALYSIS University of Florida | Journal of Undergraduate Research | Volume 13 Issue 1 | Fall 2011 3 In the process of forming a musical composition, certain guidelines exist that help create a systematic approach. In Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta, the piece is composed of four movements, with the first movement following the structu re of a fugue. 5 In architecture, a similar approach exists when forming a construct. Figure 3 demonstrates how Holl spatially interprets the structure of the piece by dividing the house into four different constructs. While the structural makeup of Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta influence s the spatial development of the Stretto House, other systematic approaches in music can help spatially influence a design. The process of Schenkerian Analysis is one method that can successfully contribute to Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta Schenkerian Analysis consists of a multi layered system that provides a structural backbone as well as musical expression in order to influence design. SCHENKERIAN ANALYSIS Austrian pianist and music theorist Heinrich Schenker developed Schenkerian Analysis in order to reveal the intuitive nature through the analytical framework of a tonal composition. What sets apart Schenkerian analysis from other systematic approaches of analyzing music is control all structural levels of a piece simultaneously. 6 In the process of design, there also exists a structural backbone as well as the intuitive design intent in the development of a space When taking a closer look at the structural levels of Schenkerian Analysis, there exists a hierarchical layering system that can be applied to the formation of space. Structural Levels In Schenkerian Analysis, the structural form is composed of the bac kground, middleground, and foreground. 7 The background is composed of the Ursatz meaning the fundamental structure. The Ursatz is made up of t w o components : the Urline (the fundamental descent) and the Bassbechung (the bass arpeggiation). The Urline is the top line of the Ursatz consisting of a stepwise descent from the 3 rd 5 th or 8 th scale degree to the tonic. The Bassbechung is the bottom line of the Ursatz consisting of the basic harmonic progression of I V I. 8 Figure 4 depicts the Ursatz with the Urline descending from the 3 rd scale degree. Figure 4. The Ursatz The Fundamental Structure The middleground layers explain how the background builds in complexity and reaches the foreground layer. The number of layers present in the middle ground is based on the length and complexity of the composition. 9 The foreground layer consists of the most refined qualities of the composition, which can be broken down into three types of ornamentation: the passing tone, the neighbor tone, and arpeggiat ion. 10 Figure 5. Elements of the foreground layer When forming a space, the structure begins with a primary system and is then layered with additional systems (secondary, tertiary, and so forth). These systems that exist in an architectural construct can be defined through the hierarchical layering of Schenkerian Analysis. A space

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VIBHA A GARWALA University of Florida | Journal of Undergraduate Research | Volume 13 Issue 1 | Fall 2011 4 begins with a fundamental framework (background), develops in complexity through intermediate layers (middleground), and is refined through ornamentation (foreground). Buesse By means of Schenkerian Analysis, the chorale is broken down in to the background layer, three middleground layers, and the foreground layer. The watercolor studies in Figure 7 take the principles of background, middleground, and foreground ite Buessen 11 T hese studies show that a hierarchical layering of tonal analysis can inform the different systems of a spatial form. In this comparison between music and architecture, the approach of both a musical composition and spatial form develop throu gh a similar progression. The background of a tonal composition can be spatial translated into the spatial proportions of a structure, providing its physical support system. The middleground layers can then be defined to form different systems of circulati on and programmatic elements within the construct. The final layer, the foreground, can then be defined as the detailing of the construct. In Schenkerian Analysis, this is defined as passing tones, neighbor tones and arpeggiation within the tonal composition. In architecture, these principles are defined as the final detailing of the spatial elements of a construct. Such detailing serves the purpose of adding scale to the structure. I n both music and architecture the foreground layer adds a refined qual ity to the overall composition. Figure 6. Schenkerian reduction depicting the background, middleground, and foreground layers Source: Heinrich Schenker, Five Graphic Music Analyses

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THE SPATIAL TRANSLAT ION OF SCHENKERIAN A NALYSIS University of Florida | Journal of Undergraduate Research | Volume 13 Issue 1 | Fall 2011 5 Figure 7. Buesse In these watercolor studies, the structural framework of the analysis of the chorale has been spatially defined. The next step in the translation of music to architecture is to capture the intuitive nature and musicality of the composer. While its layering system of Schenkerian Analysis provides the framework for the spatial form, the experience of the occupant must be considered. Just as one experi ences the musicality of a piece through the sense of hearing, one can experience this same element through a visual phenomenon in a space. Musical elements, such as dynamics, phrasing, and timbre, can be used to visually inform architecture. In music, dyn amics enhance what the notes are trying to express. For example, a forte marking is one way to support a tense passage. Phrasing helps the listener to understand the continuation of a passage until it reaches a moment of pause or rest. The timbre of a piec e adds to the character of the passage. In architecture, these musical elements of dynamics, phrasing, and timbre can then be translated into the luminosity, the movement, and the materiality of a

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VIBHA A GARWALA University of Florida | Journal of Undergraduate Research | Volume 13 Issue 1 | Fall 2011 6 space, respectively. Similar to dynamics, the luminosity in fluences how the space is felt. Even in a small construct, the space can visually be enhanced through its brightness. The phrasing of a piece can compare to the occupant s movement through the space. In music, phrasing can accelerate or slow down the passage in order to communicate a musical idea. This same concept can be felt spatially by how the occupant of a construct moves through the space. There could be transitional elements in which the occupant may pass by at an accelerated pace, or perhaps slow down or pause in order to experience a particular moment. The timbre of a composition can be defined as the materiality of a construct in architecture. Different instrument s are used at particular moments within a composition in order to express a certain character. In architecture, this character can be understood through the materiality of the construct. While the space is based off a concrete analysis (the layering system of a Schenkerian Analysis), its character can be developed through the materials used to create the construct. The relationship between music and architecture provide a wide spectrum of ways to define music through architecture as well as architecture thr ough music. Specifically through Schenkerian Analysis, a musical composition can define a spatial formation. Schenkerian Analysis provides a structure in which both the composer and architect can develop intuitive motives into a complete musical or spatial form, respectively. NOTES 1 Elizabeth Martin, Pamphlet Architecture: Architecture as a Translation of Music (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1994), 46. 2 Ibid 56. 3 Ibid. 4 Ibid 58. 5 Ibid 59. 6 David Neumeyer and Susan Tepping, A Guide to Schenkerian Analysis (New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1992), 1. 7 Allen Forte, Introduction to Schenkerian Analysis (Toronto: W.W. Norton & Co mpany,1982), 131 8 Tom Pankurst, Schenker Guide (New York: Tay lor & Francis Group, 2008), 54. 9 Ibid 21. 10 Forte, 7. 11 Schenker, Heinrich. Five Graphic Music Analyses (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1969), 32.