Spatial Harmony Delimiting The Music Of The Gods


The ability to embellish a sound occurred more than 40 thousand years ago. The first contact with music was born as an imitation of the sound of nature and animals. Its main function was to be a means to establish a dialogue with the gods and somehow bring heaven closer to earth.


The first space of contact with music was around the fire. Its sacred character, together with the harmony of sounds, denoted a need for protection that combined harmoniously with the mythological, magical, and religious language of the time. As the definition of social spaces was established, music was occupying a favorite place among human beings. Spatial limitations were key to assigning a divine and later social character to the harmony of sounds. In Egyptian culture, music was developed mainly in the temples and enjoyed a religious nature beyond having an aesthetic or contemplative social function. Egyptian musicians reached a higher category, for their knowledge of music and their ability to understand the divine sounds dedicated to the gods. For this reason, they were buried in the necropolis.


A world of sounds

In ancient Greece, music did not cease to be a means of divine contact, but its appreciation turned towards an aesthetic value and became part of everyday life in society. It began in the celebrations to move to funerals, the theater, and the musicalization of epic poems. When the music reaches dramatization, that is, the theater, its spatial conception changes completely and with it its divine conception, modifying its social function. In Greece, the Greek theaters called Theatron were born, made up of massive outdoor structures. Spaces built on the sides of slopes will take full advantage of the natural slope that the land offered to improve acoustics and optics. These spaces were made up of three main parts: audience, stage, and orchestra; the latter of greater relevance for its function of housing the choir in charge of singing and dancing. The concept will remain until today.


Roman culture imitated the basic form of the Greek theaters, however, they began to bring the theaters closer to flatforms and the center of the metropolis, dispensing with the slopes that helped the inclination, which was granted by civil engineering advances. . Free musical concerts were given in these spaces and plays set to background music were performed. Even though the spaces were still outdoors –as in ancient Greece–, those in charge of the design took care of the distribution of the sound and the optics focused on the stage.


During the medieval period, music advanced hand in hand with Christianity, and focused mainly on liturgical songs and hymns. The space where it develops is in abbeys and monasteries. What is interesting in this period is that a notation is born and with it part of the first melodic registers. An important figure for music is also born in this period: the minstrel. This artistic figure is in charge of reciting poetry, singing, and playing the lyre in the streets in exchange for some coins or food. What is interesting beyond the troubadour concept is the spatial conception of music, that is, taking musicality out of the walls and giving it no longer a divine concept but a romantic and informal approach.


Music at the service of power

With the Renaissance, music was taken to private rooms and its divine character was consecrated towards contemplative, aesthetic, and power pleasure. Great musicians were recruited and invited to palaces to compose melodies that would sweeten the hatred of those who could have access to musical wonders. The music was the object of contemplation during a dinner, private concert, or was danced in court dances in great halls inside palaces. Chamber music is consecrated in two main spaces: in the court of the king and in spaces where amateurs flaunted their musical talent.


From divine function to social character

With time, musical appreciation was taking its way, consolidating spaces destined for its contemplation, learning, and execution. The first concert halls were born in London at the end of the 17th century. They are small rooms decorated as if they were a theater for music. The oldest music room is Holywell Music Room Oxford, in London built in 1748 by Dr. Thomas Caplin following the requirements of the Christian architect Ludwig Stieglitz. The architectural projection spread throughout Europe and at the end of the 19th century, the social space (no longer divine) was consecrated for music, dedicated especially to royalty, aristocracy, and the bourgeoisie.

The architectural typology of the first concert halls still retains the essence of those built-in ancient Greece. Some forms are substituted for others and spaces are added, but the character is the same. A floor with a stage for the orchestra and the public around it in the shape of a half-moon. Over time the shell has changed but the heart of music rooms remains intact: the space for the orchestra.


Music came down from heaven and stayed to sweeten our lives and bring us closer to divine contemplation.

Currently, there are many concert halls and auditoriums that have been adapted to spaces that demand the harmony of sounds. Some have remained intact over time, others such as museums and libraries have mutated and created spaces for its appreciation, but the most important thing is that pavilions and schools have been created to conserve this beautiful art. A great example is a construction destined to house the Philharmonic in Paris, inaugurated in 2015. The organic design and the lightness of the materials embrace the stage in a way that combines an intimacy between spectators and musicians.


Gods of music

In ancient Egypt, Lhy was called the god of music and his name means sistrum player. Music has always been related to wisdom and divinity, for the ancient Greeks and Romans, the god of music Apollo was very prominent in this art, as he represented the god associated with music, the bow, and divination. Euterpe is the muse of music, in Greek mythology, protector of the art of playing the flute. In pre-Hispanic culture, the god of music and dance was Xochipilli Macuilxóchitl.

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