DESCRIBING MUSIC AND ARCHITECTURE, BERNSTEIN AND CORBUSIER

“Music is never about anything. Music just is.” 

Leonard Bernstein’s definition of music, depends on music and music only. According to him, the reasons that make music exciting are only musical reasons. Such as the rythym and the way it’s played. It does not need non-musical things to help define it. As he puts it: The meaning of music is in music. You don’t need anything else to tell you what it is.

Bernstein gives importance to the feelings brought by music. He sees those feelings as a part of music and as a part of its artistic character. Even though he states that the story behind a particular piece of music and the similar noises it may refer to doesn’t matter he still gives importance to the impression it makes on us. Bernstein is similar to Le Corbusier in this way. Corbusier, in Pure Creation of The Mind, Towards a New Architecture, is also emphasizing the importance of how a piece of design should make us feel. He states that the distinction between an engineer and an architect lies in the work they produce. The architect’s work is defined by the harmony of the elements that are used and how they arouse our emotions.

Le Corbusier’s another point is that architecture is, like Bernstein’s definition of music, free of all constraints. Corbusier explains this all too well by saying “…No question of religious dogma enters in, no symbolical description, no naturalistic representations; there is nothing but pure forms in precise relationships.” So the main similarity between Bernstein’s way of defining music and Corbusier’s way of approaching architecture is the pureness both subjects possess.

The other similarity between Bernstein’s speech and Corbusier’s writing is that both in music and architecture, it takes a harmonious composition of the elements to give the piece its own identity. The creation is to be taken into consideration as a combination of the elements it includes. Because when it starts becoming a composition, it also starts to make us feel something.

Although the two professionals were talking about two very different topics, they somehow made me understand the other one better by introducing a new way to approach these subjects and giving me a different point of view.

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