The Context of Creation

During a discussion about the evolution of music last week a buddy recommended that I watch a TED talk given by David Byrne in 2010 entitled, How Architecture Helped Music Evolve, a subject Byrne is clearly very interested in if you recall his Playing The Building Project. I watched it and you should too, but simply put, Byrne is talking about how the environmental conditions effect or determine the qualities of the product.  Sounds a lot like how nature works. In this case, how the venue (concert hall, arena, bar) determined the musical styles that were produced there. It’s about context.

Byrne sort of concludes by asking whether, creative expression is influenced more by context than what traditional romantics might believe. I love this because I think the same is true with technology. For example, the electric guitar was invented to allow musicians to be heard in front of larger crowds, not for guys like Jimi Hendrix who eventually came along and did unthinkable things with it. So, in a way it seems like creative expression is sort of contained.

This, then got me thinking about how it feels like the live music experience, which I personally feel like is undergoing a sort of resurgence, hasn’t benefited from a re-imagined or updated architecture. Even new venues (one was recently built near my house that will host all sorts of amazing bands this year) haven’t been modernized in any way. The design and layout are the same and more focus goes into the placement of concessions than crafting a space that allows for emotional connection and sensory immersion. So, I’m now wondering what the concert venue or, more appropriately, concert experience of tomorrow might look like.

Any ideas?



  1. This is not an easy one!
    I can see how the music experience can be different in different places. I am thinking of stages at the Akropolis for example. Or Central Park. Where I saw Andrea Bocelli last summer…but was bad!! Or an improvised stage at some dark night club. It makes for very different experiences. In Spain I saw an open air concert of Dulce Pontes, a Portuguese singer. It was summer, very hot and clouds started to gather, wind blowing, and lightening everywhere, it all added up to a spectacular scene. The same concert would have felt completely different in an opera house, in a red velvet cosiness.
    But does architecture influence the live experience??….or the other way around? Really hard to say. One thing is sure: no matter how good the acoustics, or how big the loudspeakers, in the end it’s the artist that makes the concert.

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