The Music of Architecture

Sometimes the best way to truly understand one art form is through the words of another. Although the finished work doesn’t move, architecture trends still retain a rhythm, a beat, a tone, and a style. Understanding architecture through music is natural, and applying musical terms to architectural ideas brings greater understanding to both art forms.

Here are some overlaps in music and architecture in Seattle:


In music, this term lets the musician know to play delicately and with a light touch. In architecture it refers to the intricacy and the craftsmanship required to create delicate but powerful details.

using dolce in architecture

Ma non troppo

Literally stated, this means “not too much.” In music, it is added with another direction to mean not to go too far. To play “allegro ma non troppo” means to play fast, but not too fast. Architecture trends often reflect this idea whenever restraint is used and a “less is more” approach is taken.
incoporating Ma Non Troppo in architecture


Loud and strong. Music that is played sforzando is meant to be heard; it is played with force and is aggressively seeking attention. Architectural features that are sforzando are similarly aggressive–sharp angles, contrasting colors or textures–elements that are designed to stand out and stand alone.
using Sforzando in architecture


Lively and upbeat, it is easy to imagine music that is vivace. Light notes and higher tones skipping along in a quick tempo. Architecture that is vivace is similarly busy and light. There may be several complimentary elements throughout one space, many different spaces that are connected, or lots of interesting objects and focal points to keep the eye and the mind busy.

using Vivace in architecture

Gelotte Hommas has been bringing art to architecture for more than 30 years. We’d love to help you incorporate some of these musical notes into your next project.

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