Harmony in Sound and Space
On September 21 at the ICAA's National Office, Joscelyn Godwin, Professor Emeritus of Music at Colgate University, gave a presentation on 'musical analogy': the perennial comparison of music to architecture. This course reviewed the ancient concept of harmony, and explored its implementation both in architecture and through the musical scale.
In the first hour, Professor Godwin gave a lecture on Pythagoras' “Harmony of the Spheres,” describing the unique musical tones emitted by the orbiting planets. Students studied diagrams of the traditional world-view, comprised of three worlds, nine orders of angels, seven planets, and four elements, in which architecture forms a link between macrocosm and microcosm. Professor Godwin also discussed ancient Quadrivial Theory, which describes the close relationships between the four numerical arts: Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy.
In the second hour, Professor Godwin demonstrated the process of scale generation and harmonic intervals on a monochord/octochord. Participants then generated their own musical scales through Ernest McClain's "Pythagorean Paper Folding" exercise, in which a strip of paper is repeatedly folded and marked at consistent intervals to generate a scale of twelve pitches. Through the physical measurement of intervals, participants gained first-hand insight into the problems of musical tuning and temperament.
Finally, Professor Godwin gave a Powerpoint presentation on the work of Claude Bragdon (1866-1946): architect, geometer, Fourth Dimension theorist, yoga practitioner, and Theosophist. Known as the designer of Rochester's New York Central Railroad Terminal and Chamber of Commerce, among many other private buildings and residences, Bragdon was also unique for his theosophical approach to architectural design and his invention of "projective ornament," a system for generating geometric patterns abstracted from nature. He was a prolific author as well as illustrator, and produced a series of drawings in which a character known as Sinbad (borrowed from the Arabian Nights) explores a theosophic world filled with Bragdon's signature geometric patters and discovers the fundamental the truths of substance and harmony.