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Both the architect and the musician start over a blank sheet of paper. The unexplored reaches of their own imagination lie before them and they try to create "something" out of "nothing". | Photo: Calum MacAulay Unsplash
Tereza Karásková -

TOP 5 Intersections Between Music and Architecture

Have you ever wondered what musicians and architects have in common? Very probably not, no wonder. It sounds a bit like the beginning of a poor joke: "They both go to bed at 3 am," and the like. But in fact, the two professions have more in common than they seem to.

This text will be more subjective than usual, but it's a real-life story. As we know, most musicians have a "day job" to make a living. For me, architecture was my choice long ago, and although I usually try to strictly separate my work and music, lately there have been more of both, and I'm finding quite unexpected parallels.

1. Blank sheet of paper

Both the architect and the musician, unless they are not only performers but also composers, start over a blank sheet of paper. Sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively, the unexplored reaches of their own imagination lie before them and they try to create "something" out of "nothing". It is a fascinating, frightening and beautiful moment. Perhaps, fortunately, the field on which we play is not entirely unbounded.

Architects are limited by the site and the requirements of the building, the wishes of the investor, finances, time, building regulations and many other things. Their creativity often takes the form of a very complicated puzzle. Even when creating music, we are often limited... by our abilities or the abilities and ideas of our bandmates, sometimes by the expectations of fans and the pressure of streaming algorithms. But these limitations can be the very thing that inspires us to come up with some original solutions.

What we also definitely encounter is the fact that the exciting moments of the birth of a new idea and the excitement of the first sketch or recording when we finally feel that "this is it" are very soon replaced by the hard fiddly work, which often has nothing exciting about it anymore. Endless drawing or recording of many variations, fine-tuning of details and also what one of my friends aptly calls "killing babies" – or ruthlessly throwing away previous great ideas. All of this is the longest and hardest phase of any project – construction, music, and very likely many others.

Yes, and then there's that moment when you're faced with something you've thought up with pencil and paper and suddenly it's real. Or a song you thought of one evening while walking the dog suddenly comes on the radio. The joy and a little amazement that it's really possible for something new to be born in your head that now takes on a life of its own.

2. Solid foundations

Architecture and music have been with humanity for a while now, and both have a history that is pretty much impossible to ignore. Everything you create relates to it in some way. Every column carries references to Greek temples and Gothic cathedrals. Every chord, interval or scale has been heard in many forms before and stirs memories stored somewhere in the depths of our collective memory.

In music and architecture, too, there have been many attempts to discard all that has been and start anew in a completely different way. But this too becomes part of a story in which the basic means of expression are given... What is unique is how we, at this moment and in this place, grasp them. That is why architects walk around with their eyes open and musicians always listen to and discover old and new music. To be able to translate what we have "absorbed" into an original idea at the right moment.

3. Know the art of building it

A not very popular subject when studying architecture is statics. Music theory is usually not a preferred subject at music schools either. But we can't do without both of them to some extent. Yes, there are plenty of famous musicians who pride themselves on not knowing sheet music, and there are a few famous architects who don't worry too much about the statics.

But for most of us mere mortals, it is useful to know, for example, that a load-bearing wall must have a certain thickness or that a song should have a chorus. And if it doesn't... that's fine too. But we have to work it out somehow, to do things differently so that the building or the song doesn't "fall apart".

4. Feedback and your whole team

Another parallel in the work of an architect and a musician is the fact that we usually can't do everything ourselves and need to let other people join our creative vision. Architects bring in electrical and plumbing consultants and other professionals, such as graphic designers, and then, of course, the whole building implementation team. There are many. Musicians need sound engineers, producers, often photographers, videographers... There are many of them, too. You need to agree with all of them, somehow convey your idea to them and then wait to see "what comes out of them".

Very often it turns out that there was some misunderstanding or mistake in the transmission and the result is very different from what you wanted. Or maybe there are simply errors that need to be corrected. Then comes many hours spent writing notes, instructions, edits, giving feedback... In fact, one such day, when I spent the whole day at work commenting on the graphic designer's work, only to continue smoothly into the whole night giving my comments on the band's latest mix of recordings, was the inspiration for writing this article.

It really didn't make much difference. In both cases, it was a matter of clearly defining your idea, maintaining calm and matter-of-fact communication, and also at some point letting go of things and accepting that other people's input is sometimes different than you expected, but maybe it can be rewarding in the end.

5. Don't get lost in tasks

Architects are somewhat multi-instrumentalists. They need to be managers, computer scientists, clerks, psychologists and couples therapists (especially when designing houses), at all times half technicians, half artists. Even musicians today have to be multi-skilled persons – managers, labels, stylists, producers, graphic designers in addition to the music itself.

Both struggle every day to keep the essentials still somewhere within reach in all the traffic and ballast, to not lose creativity and deeper insight into situations and stories. To look around, to listen, to be inspired, and to keep finding new ways to bring beauty into the world.

What about you, does your work somehow meet your music production? Are they two separate worlds for you, or does one complement the other? Let us know in the comments!

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Tereza Karásková
The singer of the band Taste The Lemon, solo guitarist, songwriter and architect. For me, music is a space of absolute freedom and joy that I don't like leaving. It started with peaceful piano lessons a…