How architecture helped music evolve: David Byrne on TED

I came across this interesting TED talk while reading my friend’s Intern 101 blog. In a previous post I mentioned my theory concerning form and function in architecture – form follows function follows form. Meaning, form and function are considered at the onset of an architectural project (not necessarily equal parts), and as the design process evolves the concepts of form and the practicalities of function begin to merge into an indiscernible goo in which the architecture is born from.

I’d like to think that culture and architecture follow the same process – architecture follows culture follows architecture, and, more specifically for David Byrne’s talk, architecture follows music follows architecture. David Byrne mentions traditional African music and how that music responded perfectly the natural and built surroundings, but his talk for me conjured up the image of a Greek amphitheater.

I imagine an incident where Socrates was lecturing to a group of people, and history’s first ever “Speak up!” was yelled from the back row. I’m sure Socrates’ response included something like “For the love of Zeus, will someone invent the damn amphitheater already!” (I have the impression the world’s smartest individuals throughout history were some of the angriest people since they constantly had to deal with people who were intellectually inferior, which would explain why Stephen Hawking has received sixty-five tickets from local police for street racing.)

The best example I can think of to demonstrate architecture influencing music is U2. When they started out, their simple style of performing reflected the venues of small clubs. As they became more popular they began playing in larger sporting venues, where their performing style incorporated jumbo screens and amplified music. Do you think U2 would use their stadium sets and pry them into a small Irish pub? (Walking into an Irish pub while dressed like the Village people, screaming lyrics from U2’s Pop album, and blinding the patrons with a police-issue strobe light is Suggestion #17 from “How to Start a Donnybrook in Ireland”.)

Our history and our culture have been influenced by our architecture, which of course has been influenced by our history and our culture.

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