Space, music and emotion: architecture and the organ in the Spanish Baroque

This project investigates the role that the organ played in the sonic, spatial and visual configuration of ecclesiastical space during the Spanish Baroque and the manner in which architecture and music interacted to depict and elicit emotional responses from its audience

Space, music and emotion: architecture and the organ in the Spanish Baroque.

Central to the investigation is the notion of the organ as ‘performative architecture’ – instrument, music and space – and hence its role as an agent of emotional affect within the Counter-Reformation ecclesiastical culture of early modern Europe. The investigation has Spain as its focus.  The organs of Spain present the most marked developments of both architectural and sonic features, noted for their varied timbrel qualities, striking pairs of twinned organ cases and impressive spatial presence.

As the machine par excellence of the Baroque, the construction of pairs of monumental mirror instruments in cathedrals and churches across the Spanish world harnessed the rhetorical and affective potency provided by its unique capacity as music producing architecture. The crowds that thronged these spaces during the great religious festivities were simultaneously entertained and awestruck by the sensory and symbolic bombardments of the multiple sound-producing facades and acoustic spaces that characterised the Iberian organs of the period.

This project was realised through the presentation of a workshop and concert with the organist Andrés Cea Galán utilising the twin organs of the Cathedral of Cuenca, Spain, designed by the architect José Martín de Aldehuela and built by the organ builder Julián de la Orden in the 1770s.


Book chapter: d’Arcy, S 2014 ‘Espacio, Música y Emoción: La Arquitectura y el Órgano en la España Barroca’ in El Libro de la 52 SMR. Cuenca: Fundación Patronato, Semana de Música Religiosa de Cuenca. (in press)