Suspicions seem to be confirmed: Architecture and Music are lovers. They share the same bed since time immemorial. Goethe rightly said that architecture is petrified music; or, conversely, that Music is sound Architecture. The relationship between the two arts is undeniably intriguing. Stravinsky, the author of the Rite of Spring, wrote in Chronicles of my Life that “one cannot better define the sensation produced by music than by saying that it is identical with the evoked by the contemplation of the interplay of architectural forms”; Siegfried Wagner, son of the great Richard and grandson of Franz Liszt, hesitated for a long time between architecture and music. He opted for the latter, which may have been an unwise decision, given the insipid reception his operas were reserved. Or then he decided well – and Architecture is grateful to him, with the utmost respect.
Mathematics, Music’s faithful companion, and its scientific interpreter, has been for many years acutely aware of Music’s incestuous relationship with Architecture. It has been sympathetic, condescending – even promiscuous! – in the silence of its denunciation.
The other arts, such as Painting, Sculpture, Literature and even the Cinema (Art’s seventh son, much younger than its sisters) shared with the fundamental sciences, such as Physics and Chemistry, the secret of this adulterous situation. They met all too often, in groups of two, three or four, in a secluded place, impervious to the prying ears, gossiping about the scandal of betrayal.
Literature was the most vocal about its indignation, resorting to its more-than-perfect command of the word to indulge in chitchat and unveil colourful details. Sculpture, who got too often distracted by the contemplation of the beauty of its forms and the majestic presence of its volume, rarely made comments on the subject; Painting, in most of these meetings of peers, iterated that it did not give a damn about the situation and only cared about the colour of the facts; Cinema – the spoiled youngest son – proving to be the most inventive in conjectures, went down to shoot a film about the relationship between the two arts – investing here in a dramatic tone, there in a comical approach – in a boundless imaginative succession full of special effects.
Physics and Chemistry, Mathematics’ old friends, sincerely lamented the delicate situation into which it had got itself. The first, very much depending on Mathematics and obsessed with the idea that it was the viceroy of Sciences, supported a radical solution, taking advantage of Newton’s equations to advocate the use of brute force and put the music in its place; Chemistry, a bit more sentimental and in a sort of return to the past, when it was known as Alchemy, went on talking about pheromones and the aphrodisiac power of some substances that, when appropriately combined, give birth to the most improbable love.
But Architecture had its reasons. It did not proclaim them, but it knew well it needed to relate to all the Arts and Sciences. It did not care about the stories and surreptitious gossip that often reached its ears. Used to being at the centre of all disputes ever since the Vitruvian Triad, Architecture would not be disquieted by anything of the kind.
Deep in its heart, Architecture is too much aware that it would be worthless without the rigour of Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry for the construction of its buildings; and that it would feel like an orphan without the help of the other arts at the time of creating the forms and images that result in its unique and often poetic aesthetics.
Architecture knows that the organization of space and its elements is not the work of a single art or science, but rather the result of the harmonic contribution of them all, just as happens with a symphonic orchestra.
PROMISCUITY? No! Simply architecture.
Rui Sousa Basto