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Acoustic Architecture

a radio feature produced by Michael Shirrefs
How does music speak to the buildings that house it? Music has always been a conversation with its environment, but from the 15th Century on, the craft became much more deliberate. And acoustic architecture has changed a lot since Dufay and the Gabrielis were composing their choral works for the Basilicas of Italy.

Palaces, cathedrals, concert halls all got the bespoke treatment from people like Bach and Beethoven. But as we reach the 20th Century and the machine-age, a different sonic logic starts to work. While the tradition was still maintained by people like Benjamin Britten, new minds like Edgard Varèse started to see other parallels between architecture and music. By the time we get to Iannis Xenakis, the architect-turned-composer, the idea of music and structure start to merge.


And today the disciplines of architecture and music are spawning brand new hybrids—architects design music … musicians perform buildings.


So, would you like to live in my song?

Sound designer Jordan Lacey creating Subterranean Voices in The Trench under Melbourne’s Federation Square. The sound installation was part of the 2013 Liquid Architecture Festival © Ellen Dewar Photography

Listen to the program here …

Into The MusicAcoustic Architecture—Into The Music

Richard Toop—Musicologist

Chelle Macnaughtan—Architect and Researcher

George Dreyfus—Australian composer

Lawrence Harvey—Lecturer and researcher at SIAL Studios, RMIT University in Melbourne

Jordan Lacey—Sound designer and researcher at SIAL Studios, RMIT University in Melbourne


Further Information

Official Stockhausen website

IRCAM—Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique

John Cage—official website

State Library of Victoria

S.I.A.L—Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory

Hidden Sounds—Jordan Lacey



Producer—Michael Shirrefs

Sound Engineer—Carey Dell


© 2013—Michael Shirrefs & ABC RN