Discover. Reveal. Educate.: Making a School for Bluegrass Music in Floyd, Virginia

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Virginia Tech

Architecture can facilitate the learning process. This book outlines a design exploration of this fundamental premise. The architectural platform for this exploration is a music conservatory dedicated to teaching the traditional mountain music of Appalachia. The rich history of mountain music and its centuries-old conversational method of conveyance remain the underlying premise of this thesis.

A successful bluegrass conservatory must provide places for its students to engage in three occasions: Discovery, Revelation, and Education. Architectural form is significant to these occasions in that it not only allows, but promotes their occurrence. The discovery of inspirational material can occur in a formal stage-and-seat configuration as in the auditorium, or in an informal environment such as the street. The moment in which a musician reveals or explores this inspirational material can be a private one, most likely to take place in the individual rooms of the residential buildings. The most important occasion, education, takes place as it has for centuries - within conversation. Learning the language of bluegrass music is most likely when two or more students sit together to play, share their knowledge, and build on it. These conversations are key to the learning process and can take place on the benches lining the streets, in the indoor gathering rooms, on balconies and porches overlooking the streets, etc. The discovery, revelational, and educational processes are not chronological and must all happen coincidentally within the school grounds.

I have set out to build an architectural language whose meaning is derived by conventional pragmatic parameters. This system of rules or notions governs all aspects of this school's design from stair to stage. The parameters are set according to the intrinsic requirements of placing a building on the land that must promote the occurrence of discovery, revelation, and education.

Floyd County, Va., bluegrass, conservatory, acoustics, music education