Sound Construction: Listening to the Music of our Natural Space

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Sound Construction: Listening to the Music of our Natural Space

Alfred Lord Tennyson once wrote: “The city is built to music, therefore never built at all, and therefore built forever.” Some of the world’s builders, architects, and engineers are focusing on a new dimension of aesthetic quality: the way our environments sound. Our sense of hearing has a lot to do with our physical and emotional health. Music often serves as our therapy — and not just the songs in our mp3 players, but the music of our natural space. The following are examples of design in cooperation with sound and the effect that these constructs have on our well-being:

The Melody Road

The Melody Road
photo courtesy of


The Melody Road will allow a car passing above it to play a simple tune, which is made audible by ridges on the road’s surface. The pitch of the note created is increased by increasing the frequency of the ridges, and the opposite is also true. The optimum speed for the best sound reproduction is a shockingly slow 28 mph. The Melody Road has been incorporated in three locations throughout Japan, including Hokkaido, Wakayama and Gunma.

Can you imagine if this road was part of your morning commute? What if they made interstate 76 play The Carpenters? I picture Citizen’s Bank Park filled with 30,000 people humming “Why do birds suddenly appear…”

Musical Architecture: a thesis by Lynde Wismer

“This thesis focuses on what I call musical architecture, specifically the parallels between ideas of layering sound in space. My goal was to explore the physiological and the psychological implications of designing space around aural perceptions to create a harmonized sonic environment.” -Lynde Wismer

Check out this fascinating exploration of the effects of sound on the quality of our living and work spaces by Lynde Wismer. As she lays out a design plan for the Aria Music Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, she introduces the concept of the “Auditory Spine Sequence” which is split up into three acoustical nodes. Each node is designed to produce a different combination of reverb, pitch and volume. “Musical Architecture” is bathroom reading material for audiophiles and musicians who daydream about building a recording studio with an unlimited budget.

The Sonic Bed!

The Sonic Bed
photo courtesy of Gush Magazine

From Interactive

“Music for Bodies” is a research project linking the sonic mapping of human bodies to architecture, through a practical study of bioresonance and interface building. Its aim is to discover new methods of experimental music making, as well as make new music more accessible to the wider community. It is doing this concentrating on making music to feel rather than just listen to.

The Sonic Bed is more than furniture, it is an actual musical instrument that produces sound according to the movements of those who are lying on it. The bed comes with seaweed blankets and oversized chopsticks. Shrimp tempura not included.

Tags: arts and culturejapan

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