New Orleans music-influenced architecture to boost morale

Art is one of the most important factors in creating a society of happy and fulfilled individuals. Throughout time, art has been, both, a unifying force and an individualizing enterprise, bringing together disparate groups of people and generating a unique identity for each artist. An iterative process, the art of one age naturally builds upon and is distinct from prior ages.

Earlier this month, the arts organization New Orleans Airlift and the New Orleans-based wheatpaste artist Swoon have joined forces to recommence work on “The Music Box, a Shantytown Sound Laboratory,” an experiment in musical architecture started in 2011.

Essentially, the original project is comprised of a house with various instruments built into its structural elements. The builders salvaged the remains of a 250-year-old home on its original site.

The current project is being funded by a Kickstarter campaign, and has raised roughly $33,000 of the $50,000 goal at the time of writing. Plans for the expansion on “The Music Box,” which will become known as “Dithyrambalina,” include creating a permanent village that will host educational programming, public concerts, open hours and artist talks as a work of art celebrating and honoring New Orleans.

The name is based on the noun dithyramb, meaning “a chant of wild and abandoned nature sung by the cult of Dionysus to bring forth their god,” according to the project’s website. Pretty rad.

Other than a righteous name, what else can be said about the expansive vision of “Dithyrambalina?”

Most significantly, the project emphasizes the culture-generating power of artist collectives. New Orleans Airlift is set to create a true asset to New Orleans — a piece of art that could potentially become a landmark historical artifact in an artistically rich and culturally diverse city.

More subtly, however, “Dithyrambalina” communicates to the world the importance of creative work as a central part of maximizing the level of diversity and creativity within communities. If we are striving to create a more peaceful world, encouraging the development of the arts in all age brackets is vital.

The two musical architecture projects in New Orleans represent one of the first times that instruments have been combined so explicitly with buildings. While the visual art analog for musical architecture hardly needs to be named (read street art,) the cool combo of audio machines and the average shanty-style building is innovative and striking.

Perhaps musical architecture pieces are the next children’s museums, places for musicians to gather and jam, recording spaces or public lecture facilities; the possibilities for such versatile structures are limitless.

If “Dithyrambalina” proves successful, I hope to see Austin artists and art collectives quickly follow suit; as one of the top creative cities in the world, it would only be fitting.