Artistic exchanges on architecture, music and design

Renowned pianist Marialena Fernandes presented works of Bach, Mozart and Schoenberg, to open the discussions on space and ratios.

By: Roy Thomas

Over the years, a lot has been said and written about the underpinnings that link the world of music and architecture. In more recent times, architects who are musicians (and vice versa) have also professed that the principles of form and structure, space and time – the building blocks of music – are also the building blocks that architecture is built on.

With the advent of computers and ‘mathematical and statistical modelling’, this view – that both fields have strong mathematical moorings and roots – has since been scientifically confirmed. But beyond the commonality that unites these disciplines, the sheer visual beauty and harmony transport one to the realms of the metaphysical.

The wisdom of ancient times enshrined the view that humankind should live in sync with its surroundings and that construction (read architecture) was about respect for nature and the universe.

Italian connection

Italian architect, Andrea Palladio, felt that architecture could help us with three psychological virtues, “calm, harmony and dignity”.

Music has a similar depth. Built on harmonious, geometrical proportions and mathematics, it elevates purpose to a search for the inner spirit, and possibly a longing for serenity.

“Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents,” said Ludwig van Beethoven.

Le Corbusier, a Swiss-French architect, designer, painter and one of the pioneers of modern architecture – better known in India for designing the city of Chandigarh – spoke of music being integral to key pursuits in his life.

He said, “More than these 30 years past, the sap of mathematics has flown through the veins of my work, both as an architect and painter; for music is always present within me.”

‘Manifest’ was an evening to facilitate artistic dialogue around the convergence of music, architecture and design. The soiree, curated by The Keith Store in Bengaluru recently, featured more than 60 prominent figures from the world of architecture and music.

Pianist Marialena Fernandes, architect Bijoy Ramachandran and former diplomat Nirupama Rao participated in ‘Manifest’.

Masters’ voices

The evening commenced with the renowned pianist from Vienna, who presented works of Bach, Mozart and Arnold Schoenberg, along with Beethoven’s popular piece ‘Fur Elise’, to open the discussions on space and ratios.

Bijoy Ramachandran, well-known architect and founder of Hundredhands, a design studio, started his presentation with Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘The Vitruvian Man’. He showed how the Italian master used drawings to demonstrate the blend of mathematics and art, to expound his belief that the workings of the human body were an analogy for the workings of the universe.

Bijoy went on to compare the works of Andrea Palladio’s Villa Foscari and Le Corbusier’s Villa Stein-de-Monzie. He spoke of these classical buildings, which were built in different periods, but had remarkable similarities in terms of scale, character, spatial and visual impact.

 “In music, there is a mathematical progression in how one finds consonance and dissonances amongst notes and chords,” said Bijoy. “In the same manner, architects have been trying to find a mathematical basis to guide them with regards to proportion and scale.”

Nirupama Rao spoke about the South Asian Symphony Orchestra, which she founded in 2018, and said the initiative aimed at communicating the message of peace through music across South Asia.

A rare contribution came from Federico Babina, an Italian architect and illustrator who lives in Spain. His virtual sharing of his ArchiMusic series of illustrations combined music and architecture with 27 songs that made up the soundtrack of a series of illustrations depicting the music and its authors.

Babina said, “The idea was taking a cue from an intangible item like music, giving shape, light and colour to music and its performers. Music and architecture are intimately joined by a cosmic connection. They both are generated by an underlying code, an order revealed by mathematics and geometry.”

Alf Group

Alf DaFre was founded by a group of highly-skilled, experienced Italian craftsmen in the 1950s as a co-operative to mass produce wooden furniture. From specialising in bedroom furniture, the company grew to incorporate dining and living furniture to meet the needs of the customer.

Innovation has always been a large part of the company ethos, and this is evident in both the design and production of their beautiful products.

Keith Rebello & Associates (The Keith Store) was established in 2009 and represents Alf DaFre and Valdesign Kitchens. The company imports and retails furniture, wardrobes and kitchens and has an exclusive mandate to market Alf DaFre’s collections in India and Sri Lanka.

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