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the love of sound

When we enter a great medieval cathedral we enter a world where every surface is capable of encrustation, like coral, cabbages, and kings, it is an air strangely liquid, memorials can attach, in effect we project our memories onto the stone: an air strangely three dimensional. A dedicated act of memory. The cloister - an area orbiting around the paradise - the sanctuary a location north east of local paradise. In such spaces ordinary continuous prayer in musical form is performed for millennia.

The reason for the architectural effort: the height and the faceting of the vaults, timber replaced by stone, the reason they have survived 1000 years is the forming of the human voice at a meeting place of heaven and earth; representing heaven as a ceiling of acoustic crystals, simple shapes: two three four, five, six, and all their interferences. Architecture is geometry applied, music is number in motion. These are not only craft depositories, centres of culture, but also vast edifices of continual rhythmic reverberance between heaven and earth.

The floor is flat and stratified, walls are plumb, only in the vaulting are we allowed to escape the horizontal and vertical to the zing of high harmonic interferences. That is the purpose of all the geometry and stonework. Sung prayer. Religious ecstasy. Timber and thatch would do as well but for acoustics and the longevity of the space above our heads. We can hear it now above the interferences: mains hum, traffic, aircraft.

Marcus Beale 2002-6

Sensuality and proportion