The View is a featured column based on the brand DNA of Parkview Green FangCaoDi. Hosted by Parkview Green FangCaoDi and undertaken by The Parkview Museum Beijing, The View will be released in the “Parkview Green FangCaoDi” WeChat subscription channel biweekly. Each issue will feature an article composed by a key opinion leader in the fields of art and culture, architecture, business, etc. They are here to share the insights of their profession and the industry, observations on recent news, and valuable reflections of matters in life. This column delivers the connotation of art and culture through different perspectives.
Music and architecture, though seemingly unrelated to each other, are connected. Their construction comes from a creator with passion, rigorous logic, structural thinking, some inspiration, and a lot of hard work. The process and the result together bind by an artistic tension. In today's The View, Wang Yile, the producer of "Wang Lei & Yile", will share her architectural thoughts in music creation.
Architecture is a solidified music,
and music is a liquid architecture.
This famous saying seems to have been widely quoted. Countless people either author theoretical articles about the musicality of architecture to analyze the relationship between the proportions in the space and the harmonious intervals in the music or expound on the artistic characteristics of architectural works on the basis of musical structure and historical background. As a professional engaged in both industries, I am fortunate to gain insights into special ties between them from the perspective of architecture and music. Now, as a full-time creator specializing in abstract auditory art, I prefer the dimension of “people” to take into account our musician ensemble—“Wang Lei & Yile”— and the inherent double-sided characteristics of their works.
Since I was a university student, I have been studying architectural design systematically. Although it is commonly believed that architectural design industry is seemingly dominated by science and engineering, however, pedagogical practices at the School of Architecture of the University of Sydney focus on humanities, social sciences and overall aesthetic concepts. In the early stages of campus career, students were required to intuitively use hands to obtain tactile impression on different materials, touch the expressible different strengths of each medium in the hand-drawn sketches, and attach importance to the preliminary surveys of the projects. Students slept in a tent outdoor in a specific location for a few days before drawing the first sketch by hand.
Under this hands-on atmosphere of the School of Architecture, when students rationally devoted to the early stage of work design, they feverishly investigated the local character of the works, the underlying historical heritage and social attributes of the works, among others.
This work habit and thinking approach continued until I plunged into a crossover realm. Ten years ago, I met my husband Wang Lei, who is a rock singer and bassist. In the process of assisting Wang Lei, I gradually shift my work focus to independent music production. Many outsiders consider music as an industry associated with the realm of emotionality and with an idealized existential dimension: they consider music as a completely abstract work of art. Musicians need to bring into play their spontaneous imagination and emotional pivot to accept the information conveyed by the auditory art of “music”. It is easily misunderstood that the behavior of “music creation” is also brimming with sensibility and randomness.
The process of music creation depends on thorough distance and rational approach. In this regard, it coincides with my professional experience gained from devotion to architecture for a long time.
Take our original work The Great Migration as an example. The recording tracks, involved in its music, exceeds 80. How can these scattered elements be organically combined to highlight what we want to express, namely a sense of migration of millions of animals dashing and moving forward across African savannah at the end of “dry season”? The details, which need to be grasped to an inch, are by no means the “inspirations” suddenly burst from a visit to the African savannah. Instead, they result from clear-cut and rational assembly and arrangement after a profound understanding of sound field and frequency band of each track. The tearing-apart effect sound adopted by the electric guitar in the music, the dislocation between the drum and the bass, and the swing between the left and right channels of the rhythm guitar…All of these are decisions made on the basis of repeated communication, exchange and meeting. On this occasion, producer exactly plays a role of chief architect, who should take a panoramic view for the overall situation under a high field of vision, dispatch and employ the available sound elements, clarify the direction of musical composition, and ensure that the advancements of all parties are within the “redline” under control.
This is exactly the consistent work philosophy of “Wang Lei & Yile”: Perceptual Thinking, Rational Creation.
Regarding the role of sound, I often draw a parallelism with architectural terminology when discussing with production team. Expressing this abstract element with such a visible and concrete metaphors can eliminate misunderstandings in communication to the utmost extent.
I often compare basic rhythm instruments (such as bass and drum kit) to the “foundation” of a work. I also jokingly tell others that as the lifeblood of the work, the rhythm group still needs to be conscious, as it is unlikely for anybody to acclaim: “The foundation of this building is very beautiful!” The members of rhythm group should act in steadfast and stable ways “to shape the skeleton”. In this way, framework of musical composition can keep stable and implies its own potential for the future construction work. The members of rhythm group also need to keep patient enough, however.
Similarly, once we confirm “foundation” and “structural column grid” of musical composition, the other chromatic elements, also called “facade” and “decoration” in architectural language, cannot be separated from these foundations to exist alone.
We are familiar with the architectural movement of minimalism, but also with maximalism in the course of historical development. Behind these design decisions, there is no coincidence under inspiration of someone. The way to “appropriately” make the best of other color instruments straightforward demonstrates the producer’s individual emotional understanding of the music itself. Do we need erratic and dreamy melodic lines? Or do we need a sharp and tough ultra-high frequency band to stimulate the flaming emotions as a blow? In other words, can we silence all the sounds, let everyone hold their breath and wait for a while so as to exert a direct impact in a more visualized manner?...
Such designs abound in our works. Everything we see in the daily life turns into language vocabularies for our perceptual thinking. At the time of creation, these vocabularies spew out from our mind, which surely embody the other side of our lifestyle. In the language of music, what we see and what we can’t see are mingled. All things, which cannot be expressed with reinforced concrete, wooden frame and ceramic chip, are vividly presented in the world of music. When I close my eyes and listen to these works, it seems that I can feel the overlapping mansion landscapes in multiple dreams. I can understand the meaning of each note, but also clearly capture the veins laid by each drumbeat.
I hope that such a double happiness can take root in more people’s innermost world through text, music and live concert.