Nexus Network Journal

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 155–170 | Cite as

Three Musical Interpretations of Le Corbusier’s Modulor

  • Radoslav Zuk


The frequent evocative comparisons between music and architecture in the text of the Modulor may explain why Le Corbusier, in this constant search for ordering principles, considered his proportional sequence to be equivalent to a musical scale. Yet, since the dimensional ratios of Le Corbusier’s ‘scale’ are much larger than the pitch ratios of the latter, the Modulor comes much closer to another structural element of music, that of harmony. By adjusting the Modulor ratios to the corresponding ratios of musical chords, three variants of a “musical” Modulor can be generated – Chromatic, Major and Minor. If, in addition, the two sets of the malebased Modulor dimensions are replaced with a universal female-male set, the inherently complex Modulor numbers become simpler and clear. The Master’s intention of producing a rational and practical system of proportions, which is related to both the scale of the human being, and to the order inherent in the physical nature of sound, can thus be realized.


architecture music proportions Le Corbusier Modulor 


  1. Alberti, Leon Battista. 1988. On the Art of Building in Ten Books. Joseph Rykwert, Neil Leach and Robert Tavernor, trans. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  2. Backus, John. 1969. The Acoustical Foundations of Music. New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
  3. Le Corbusier. 1954 (2000). Le Modulor. A Harmonious Measure to the Human Scale Universally Applicable to Architecture and Mechanics. London: Faber and Faber. Rpt. Boston and Basel: Birkhauser, 2000.Google Scholar
  4. Gast, Klaus-Peter. 2000. Le Corbusier, Paris – Chandigarh. Basel: Birkhäuser.Google Scholar
  5. Howard, Deborah and Malcolm LONGAIR. 1982. Harmonic Proportion and Palladio’s Quattro Libri. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 41, 2 (May1982): 116-143.Google Scholar
  6. Mitrović, Branko. 1990. Palladio’s Theory of Proportions and the Second Book of the Quattro Libri dell’Archtettura. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 49, 3 (September 1990): 279-292.Google Scholar
  7. Palladio, Andrea. 1997. The Four Books on Architecture. Robert Tavernor and Richard Schofield, trans. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  8. Rowe, Colin. 1976. The Mathematics of the Ideal Villa. Pp. 2-27 in The Mathematics of the Ideal Villa and Other Essays. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  9. Wittkower, Rudolf. 1971. Architectural Principles in the Age of Humanism. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  10. Zuk, Radoslav. 2004. From Renaissance Musical Proportions to Polytonality in Twentieth Century Architecture. Pp. 173-188 in Nexus V: Architecture and Mathematics, Kim Williams and Francisco J. Delgado Cepedo, eds. Fucecchio (Florence): Kim Williams Books.Google Scholar
  11. Zuk, Radoslav. 2010. Le Corbusier’s Modulor and Music. Pp. 62-69 in Music and Sonic Art: Practices and Theories, Vol. I, George E. Lasker, Mine Dogantan-Dack, John Dack, eds., Tecumseh, ON: IIAS.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kim Williams Books, Turin 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ArchitectureMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

Personalised recommendations