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Noise Orders

Jazz, Improvision, and Architecture

2005
Author:

David P. Brown

Noise Orders

An interdisciplinary look at the implications of improvisation in jazz on modern design

In Noise Orders, David Brown locates jazz music within the broad aesthetic, political, and theoretical upheavals of our time, asserting that modern architecture can be strongly influenced by jazz improvisation. Comparing artists and architects with individuals and groups in jazz—including Piet Mondrian and boogie-woogie, John Cage and Rahsaan Roland Kirk—Brown examines how jazz can provide insight on how to develop dynamic metropolitan environments.

A lively, imaginative, highly original, and provocative book.

Robert Walser, UCLA

In this lively book, David Brown locates jazz music within the broad aesthetic, political, and theoretical upheavals of our time, asserting that modern architecture and urbanism in particular can be strongly influenced and defined by the ways that improvisation is facilitated in jazz.

Improvised music consists of diverse properties that fail to register in the object-oriented understanding of composition. As a result, it is often dismissed as noise—an interfering signal. However, Brown asserts, such interference can bear meaning and stimulate change. Noise Orders identifies how architecture can respond to the inclusive dynamics of extemporaneous movements, variable conceptions of composition, multiple durations, and wide manipulation of resources found in jazz to enable outcomes that far exceed a design’s seeming potential.

By exploring overlapping moments between modernism and the cultural dimensions of jazz, Noise Orders suggests that the discipline of improvisation continues to open and redefine architectural theory and practice, creating a world where designers contribute to emerging environments rather than make predetermined ones. Comparing modern and avant-garde artists and architects with individuals and groups in jazz—including Piet Mondrian and boogie-woogie, John Cage and Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Le Corbusier and Louis Armstrong, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM)—Brown examines how jazz can offer alternative design ideas and directions, be incorporated in contemporary architectural practices, and provide insight on how to develop dynamic metropolitan environments.

Interdisciplinary in its approach, innovative in its methodology, and unexpected in its conclusions, Noise Orders argues for a deeper understanding of the infinite potential inherent in both music and architecture.

Noise Orders

David P. Brown is associate professor of architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Noise Orders

A lively, imaginative, highly original, and provocative book.

Robert Walser, UCLA

David P. Brown puts forth a fresh and new understanding of the theory of jazz music and the processes at play within improvisation, opening up new possibilities for the practice of architecture.

Walter Hood, University of California, Berkeley

Noise Orders: Jazz, Improvisation, and Architecture is not merely another study of jazz music to toss onto the pile; it offers a new point of departure not just for bridging architecture and music but also for any theorists who attempt to place disparate cultural forms into conversation.

Journal of Architectural Education

Deserves attention.

Architectural Record

This book deserves a place in any arts or science library. It can widen the views of the reader by describing the nature of true jazz improvisation, or at least what it feels like, in order to gain insights for the creative process in design.

Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design

Noise Orders

Contents

Acknowledgments
Speculative Leaps

1. Compositional Imperatives: Mondrian and Boogie-woogie
2. What Is the Body Supposed to Be Doing? John Cage and Rahsaan Roland Kirk
3. Now's the Time: Temporalities of Louis Armstrong and Le Corbusier
4. Function, Flexibility, and Improvisation: The AACM and Mies van der Rohe

Conclusion: Diagrams, Conduction, and the Contemporary City

Notes

Index