Of architecture, music and brains: Do we live in atonal cities?

Alexandros A. Lavdas
Senior Researcher, Center for Biomedicine
European Academy Bozen/Bolzano (EURAC), Italy.

The twentieth century has seen the total reinvention of both music and architectural languages. While radically new music composition systems have known a large popularity by composers – less so by the public – they still occupy only a niche, albeit a large one, in the word of composition. On the other hand, modern architecture sought to dominate the landscape completely, and largely succeeded in it, not only by offering a higher profit margin for developers, but mainly by proclaiming the ideological superiority of its approach, based on criteria that were arbitrary and had no scientific foundation – in other words, on dogma.
We discuss here some structural parallels between pre-modern and modern music and architecture, and propose that Alexander’s 15 Properties and Salingaros’ 3 Laws of Architecture that derive from them are the equivalent of the basic laws of tonality and harmony in music. We also propose an experimental setting for further investigating the neurological correlates of forms corresponding – or not – to these laws.

Keywords: Architecture, music, brain, neuro-aesthetics, modernism, fractal, complexity, tonality, syntax.


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