Goethe characterized architecture as frozen music, which well describes this extraordinary building. I don’t know what kind of music Goethe heard when he looked at the Basilica, but I hear percussion–the great jazz drummer Philly Joe Jones…
The tall half-columns are the steady rhythm beat of the bass drum, which Palladio accentuates by breaking the extremely deep cornice and projecting it forward over each capital. At the attic level, a statue above each column provides a high-pitched cymbal clash. The two levels of the arcade keep slightly different times: the lower Roman Doric, with its staccato-like frieze, is more articulated, while the upper Ionic is more delicate and smooth. At the end of the building, which is nine bays long, a cluster of three columns (topped by three statues) marks a pause–a drum roll–and the beat continues around the corner. The arches of the serliana weave a sinuous backbeat, which is punctuated by the double tom-tom pulse of the oculi, and the rim-shots of the keystones, which are in the form of mascheroni, or grotesque masks.

[Witold Rybczynski, The Perfect House]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s