Art 1 – Color and Music – Due 2/24


This program (written by Ali Nikrang for Mozarteum Kultur GmbH) visualizes a piano performance in realtime using the “Color theory” by Scriabin.
You can see here a few examples. (but in this case the program uses a standard midi-file and an ePiano to play it).

Notes and Colors:
C :  Red
C# D Flat : Violet
D :  Yellow
D# E Flat :  Steel colors with metal shine
E : Whitish-blue
F : Red, dark F# G Flat : Blue, bright
G :  Orange-pink
G# A Flat : Purplish-violet
A :  Green
A# B Flat : Steel colors with metal shine
B : Similar to E

1. Comment first on this computer program  above that correlates notes to colors and Scriabin’s piano piece.
2. In the site below, if you are a musician, what do you think of the detailed explanations?   If you are not a musician, what do you think about it?  Can you make any sense of it or draw any conclusions?

Color and Music Theory

3. In the link below – consider whether or not you have any synesthesic tendencies. Give some examples of correlations, try the test with your friends and draw some conclusions.


4. Post a link you found relevant to the discussion and comment on other’s links.

For sketchbook – draw one hour to music and note on the side or back of page the type and musicians you were listening to while drawing.


27 responses »

  1. 1) I thought the computer program was pretty cool, the way the colors seemed to rush forward and bloom and billow like gas or colorful smoke in the beginning was especially interesting. Also during the actual peace of music I liked how there were blobs of color just flying everywhere like a multicolored lava lamp. However I didn’t like how blurry the colors were. Call me crazy but for some reason I found the blurry colors unsettling. I think the programmers would have done better if they hadn’t made the colors so blurry.

    2) The color music website was…informative. It was very complected and hard to understand, meant more for people actually trying to recreate the experiment then for people trying to learn about it. I, a music student of eight years, had to read the charts and descriptions two or sometimes even three times to finally comprehend them. I’m not sure how someone with little or no music Spencerian would handle it, but I doubt they would get it as it isn’t exactly user friendly. Anyway that’s what I think of the detailed explanations. As for conclusion’s, I think it would be rash to conclude anything from these studies. From what I read, they were small, including no more than twenty five people, so the results are inconclusive. A larger study is needed if we are to understand this topic better, however when you think about all the other things scientists could be doing with their time, (like curing cancer or making a death star) it makes sense that none have been done. It just doesn’t seem like the most important topic at the moment.

    3) No I don’t have any synesthesia-like tendencies. I don’t have any friends on hand to test but from what I have red, synesthetics are not exactly common and it is unlikely that I would find any of my friends had it. Also the test takes a couple of weeks to conduct so I wouldn’t be able to try the test even if I had any friends…(I’m so alone)… Anyway it makes sense that a lot of musicians are synesthetes. If you can picture music as well as hear it, you have an advantage.

    It’s got a lot of information on the history of color associations and some of it’s pretty cool. There are Ocular Harpsichords, color organs, and futurists.

    • Yes, I know what you mean about the blurry quality but perhaps that is because the nature of sound reverberates and has soft edges. Your link is a great find – it looks like a lot of instrument makers in history have found this an interesting challenge to associate music with color in the performance.

  2. 1. this computer program translate the piano music into a visual performance by color. It is interesting because seeing colors is completely different from listening to the music. The colors are kind of messy when the music turned to exciting, but it looks pretty cool while it cater to the nodes of music.

    2.It looks like… The theory creates a correlation between music and colors by definite the nodes in music by particular colors… It doesn’t really make sense to me, but I guess a computer program is able to be written to create a video like the above one, based on the theory.

    3. I couldn’t open a something… in the website, but after reading the synethesia, I don’t think I have some tendencies. For example, if I pair numbers with some colors, I will definitely forget it after some weeks and pair numbers with different colors.

    This website is the association for color and words.

  3. 1. I find the computer program quite interesting, but the idea with notes corresponding to color doesn’t quite work for me. I thought at first that maybe as I watched, it’ll become more obvious, but it just seemed like a random smear of colors. Perhaps if the musical piece had more of a pattern, it would have made more sense?

    2. Maybe my brain is just improperly functioning today because even though I play an amount.. Of guitar, none of the color/note associations. I tried to read it but it just didn’t click. Maybe I need to know more music theory?

    3. Ever since I’ve been little, I’ve has color associations with numbers. Seven is green, three is lime, six is violet, five is red, four is orange, two is kind of a red orange, zero is white (aka invisible on a white page)…. So I think that’s a little strange.


    • I wonder why the numbers are certain colors for you – do you think it is from looking at them in the room in elementary school or a book you had as a child? Or, are some numbers your favorites and therefore associated with favorite colors?

  4. 1. I like the first video. I thought it was pretty and it sort of seemed like it could be used for hypnotism. The way everything seemed to be logically coordinated made it seem even more pretty, in my opinion. It was sort of reassuring.

    2. I cannot honestly say I understood this website. I read it a couple times and I was just confused. It was really in-depth and specific, and since I’m not a musician nor do I really know anything about music (like notes and cords and major and minor and whatnot) I was really lost in the woods there. But I could see how it would be interesting to someone who could understand and repeat the whole process of testing it!

    3. I definitely think I have synesthesia. When I read a book and listen to music at the same time, I can’t listen to that song without thinking of the book (like the specific segments of the story) and I can’t read the book without sort of hearing the song in my head.

    4. The government actually had proof about the effect of color on emotion!

    • And a lot of these theories about color and emotion are used in the construction of prisons and schools….
      We didn’t use these ideas in the walls of our school. It was a matter of aesthetics rather than psychology.

  5. 1. The first video was really pretty, and it seemed to enhance the piano piece with the shapes and colors.

    2. I was extremely confused and could make nothing of it. I personally haven’t experienced much of a link between color and certain notes.

    3. I don’t have really any synesthesic tendencies. If I think about it, I can give words shapes, but nothing else. Especially not colors.

    4. Pythagoras had something to say about color and music.

  6. I thought that the colors in the video seemed to fit well with the notes that were being played. It was hard to follow when the music was being played quickly. To me it seems strange that each note has a specific color because each person may view a color or hear a note differently. I do not believe I have synthestesia but I think everyone associates some visuals with taste or smell. For example, if somebody saw a photo of food they might envision the taste of the food. this website has some interesting uses for music and color.

  7. 1) At first, I didn’t really like the video. There was too many colors involved at one point in time and it was hard for me to distinguish the mood on the song from the colors. I liked how later in the video, the colors were more combined to create one color so the mood was more apparent.

    2) To be honest, I really didn’t understand the notes and numbers from the webpage. I think it’s difficult to correspond colors to numbers and letters of notes. The colors just have to match the mood and feel/sound of the song.

    3) I have heard of Synesthesia and I don’t think I have it. I may associate some perceptions with different things, like itching to poison oak, or sweetness to fruit, but I don’t automatically perceive these things when I think of a word or look at something.


    • I associate itching to red because of the inflamed feeling and fruit lways seems to be warm colors and vibrant, like the flavor. But there are some people who have color associations for things like numbers which have nothing to do with the other senses.

  8. 1)I liked the first video. The colors helped me understand the mood of the music becuase if it was blue it kinda made me think of sadness. When there was blue the music was slow and quiet instead of happy or loud. The colors and the music together made a bigger impact than they do when they are separate.
    2)I really didn’t understand the notes and numbers. When I looked at it I couldn’t tell how colors were connecting with musical notes.
    3)I don’t think I have any synethesias. And I don’t have anyone to test it with.

    • I think it is interesting that the colors do seem parallel to the emotion of the piano piece. It makes me wonder how they came up with the associations in the program. I wonder how much that anticipated certain passages.

  9. 1) I really enjoyed the first video because i just kind of got lost in it and it was really pretty.
    2)I didn’t understand the notes and numbers to be honest. I feel like the colors need to match the mood of the song so like if it is a pop song the color can be pink or purple and if its a rock song the colors can be more dark..
    3) I think I have synesthesia because when I read a book and listen to music at the same time, I can’t listen to the song without thinking of the book. I have trouble just listening to music while reading and not thinking about the music like some people are good at doing.
    4) (has some music and color interesting things)

  10. I enjoyed the program a lot, personally I have a huge disconnect between sound and vision, so it did not really resonate with me, but I defiantly liked the patterns and colors it used.
    I play the cello, and personally my theory is awful, but I enjoy the sound and tone of the note much more than what note it is to begin with, you can have a lively song with deep colors or a sad song with bright colors, it’s all in the hands of the musician.
    I read the article and I do seem to have some synesthesic tendencies, mostly relating to smell, I often connect things from sound and other senses as well, it is difficult to explain, I connect some things and completely disregard others.
    I thought that this was an interesting website about color and audio relations.

    Other than that, I liked the concept but did not find it that applicable to me.

  11. 1. I found the program to be an interesting interpretation of one person’s vision of the colors of music. While it’s beautiful and the music accompanying it fits it in context, everyone’s vision is different.

    2. To me, music is an emotion. Each word spoken, each note played is always different in respect to the notes played before it. To describe it in uniform colors doesn’t work for me. I somewhat understood it, given that I took a little piano when I was younger, but the words were mostly meaningless.

    3. For me, letters are colors and numbers are in varying shades of gray. This actually posed a problem in Algebra where numbers and colors were forced to be merged. Textures also have personalities and emotions. For example, the feeling of cotton is proper and prim, while the texture of rubber is loud and boisterous. While this isn’t exactly color Synesthesia, it is somewhat relevant. It also caused problems with sensory integration, given that some textures were inexplicably “bad”. I’m still unable to eat mushy foods, because to me they are untrustworthy and suspicious.


  12. 1. I have a musician friend who associates music with colors very clearly, so I found this video very fascinating. It was especially interesting to see what colors came up for chords, when different notes came together.

    2. The site explained some very cool explanations and theories on why we connect music and color in our heads, but generally I think it is a random brain reflex that is personal and unique to everyone.

    3. I don’t show any synesthesia-like tendencies. If I close my eyes I can see colors, but music doesn’t need to be heard for this to occur, nor does it happen consistently i.e. I don’t see the same colors every time.

    4. This is a cool site that expands more on a very scientific reasoning for synesthesia

  13. 1. I thought the video correlating notes to colors in Scriabin’s piano piece was very interesting, but also a little bit frustrating because it moved so quickly and I wanted to be able to figure out what notes were being played. I enjoyed when it was the squared of colors because they were more defined than the blurry colors, and easier to take in. I also liked how the squares got bigger as the music crescendoed and smaller as the music decrescendoed.

    2. I found this website pretty confusing and I have been studying music and music theory for a long time. It seemed to be connecting the colors with intervals rather than just the notes themselves. If I had more time, I think it would be interesting to go deeper into the theory behind the facts, because it seems very complex but interesting too.

    3. I don’t think I have real synesthesia, because i don’t follow the guidelines they gave, although i believe everyone has at least a tiny bit of synesthesia because music is always associated colors, even if it’s not a different color for every note. I have friends who have synesthesia and I can’t imagine what it would be like, but it sounds like it would be really cool.


  14. 1. I liked the computer program, after the one with all the boxes I got more confused as to how they were appearing in relation to the music, but I still thought it was really interesting and relaxing.
    2. I was pretty lost trying to understand anything the site was saying. The only experience I have with music is the required instrument period of elementary school and I didn’t learn much from that.
    3. I don’t think I have synesthesia, although, like so many other people, I do like sitting and letting my mind free associate when I’m listening to music. It’s definitely a conscious act though, it doesn’t happen if I’m doing other things. What usually happens when I listen to music is I compose a music video with a whole bunch of frame shots, lighting etc. It just kind of happens.

  15. 1) I liked the first video because of the way the colors bloomed and faded and billowed around like smoke or steam. I also like that the changes were coordinated in the music.
    2) Honestly I’m not a musician so the website didn’t make a ton of sense to me personally but I understand why someone who understands music well would be really interested in it.
    3) I think I have synesthesia because when I listen to music it’s very easy for me to visualize different colors or scenes.

  16. 1. I really like the first video, and I really enjoy seeing and listening it. In my opinion, this video builds a connection between music and art. And this video transfers the piano performance into so many various colors. What’s more, I really like the moment when many different colors appear together, and the music becomes more complex as well.

    2. To be honest, I don’t really understand the notes and what the tables stand for. But I do realize that every color has the specific sound to represent.

    3. I don’t think I have any synethesia…Because it’s hard for me to draw a circle by left hand and draw a triangle by right hand at the meantime.

    this website can help the music theory better.

  17. 1. I really enjoyed the first video and I thought that the music made the color pop even more and I saw a connection between them. I also really enjoyed the way the shapes and patterns of the colors moved around on the screen.

    2. I did not really understand the music at all but it would be interesting to find out what the colors and music looked like together.

    3. I don’t have synethesia but I can see color when I close my eyes but I don’t need music for this.


  18. 1. I really enjoyed the first video. It was interesting to see how the colors related to the music as it changed.

    2. I got some of the concepts about the relationships between color and intervals and c being white makes logical sense in context but what I enjoyed most about the page was the color representation of Prelude in C. I know that piece pretty well from piano and it was really interesting to be able to predict the colors of the next chord from having looked at their chart. I also kind of noticed that the consonant chords had a lot of analogous and complementary colors while the dissonant chords were basically random.

    3. I don’t think I have synesthesia, but it made me remember that ever since I was little I’ve associated the days of the week with specific colors. Mondays are white, Tuesdays are red, Wednesdays are blue, Thursdays are green, Fridays are black, Saturdays are yellow and Sundays are an orange-pink color. Now, I don’t really see these colors when I look at an actual calendar, but those are the colors on the calendar in my head and have been as long as I can remember.


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