Monday, March 12, 2007

Spaces Speak by Barry Blesser & Linda-Ruth Salter


This is a great book recently released by MIT press. It covers a wide range of topics on the subject of Aural Architecture..Here is an excerpt.

We experience spaces not only by seeing but also by listening. We can navigate a room in the dark, and "hear" the emptiness of a house without furniture. Our experience of music in a concert hall depends on whether we sit in the front row or under the balcony. The unique acoustics of religious spaces acquire symbolic meaning. Social relationships are strongly influenced by the way that space changes sound. In Spaces Speak, Are You Listening?, Barry Blesser and Linda-Ruth Salter examine auditory spatial awareness: experiencing space by attentive listening. Every environment has an aural architecture.

Social Spatiality
When we think of architecture, we immediately visualize the properties of the space that can be seen, especially boundaries that influence movement and the legal rights of access. Walls and surfaces are tangible and readily apparent. In contrast, because sound flows through even the smallest opening, aural architecture has aural boundaries. Hogarth, in the picture below, portrays the dismay of a musician who finds that his private music room and the hubbub of the street are in fact a single aural space. The open window destroys the aural boundary because sound flows freely through it. Opening the window changes the aural architecture, and the person who opened the window was an aural architect.


Hogarth's Enraged Musician.
Courtesy of Graphic Arts Collection, Princeton University.

other major components of aural architecture include musical, navigations, aesthetic, and symbolic. From these, I would say that the easiest to manipulate in existing spaces would be their 'musical spatiality' and therefore by implementing a process of 'musical design', we can create better aural architecture in our built environments.
The source for this article, more information and how to purchase the book can be found at www.SpacesSpeak.com
Thanks to Barry Blesser for his previous comments to Two Open Ears!

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