Art 1 – Color and Music – Due 2/3

Standard

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.

Synesthesia

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.

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34 responses »

  1. 1. I think it’s very interesting to see color related to music. While both art and music are a form of art, rarely are they merged to create something new. This is an interesting way to think about color association.
    2. I’m not a musician but again, i think its an interesting idea to link color and notes. Personally, I dont see a connection between the two and think that trying to draw one is a daunting task. However, I applaud any one who tries and think the product is interesting.
    3. I think it would be interesting to see if i have any tendency towards paring numbers and colors. I dont think i do but then again, i wouldn’t be surprised if i did associate some color towards some numbers.
    4. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130123144220.htm

  2. I think that the computer program might work similarly to the iTunes Visualizer, but could correlate certain frequencies of sound (pitches) to a color and at certain amplitudes that might have signaled an accented chord or note. I have actually been introduced to this color theory before by famous (and my favorite) concert pianist Yevgeny Sudbin, who has an affinity towards Scriabin. http://ow.ly/t62Mt
    http://www.yevgenysudbin.com/artist.php?view=essays&rid=456

    I think that the major chords: I, IV, and V, can all be associated with primary colors. Of course the colors will change as the modes of the music changes.

    When I hear Scriabin, I don’t see bursts of a single color, but bursts of two or more colors, essentially making up a “color chord.” The colors in this “chord” vary with the degree of dissonance or consonance: the colors are closer together in tone when the intervals are less dissonant (octaves, perfect 4ths or 5ths, major 6ths, minor or major 3rds), and the colors are brighter with faster rhythms of music and more major tonalities or chord progressions.

    For minor tonalities with slow paces, I begin to associate cool and neutral colors. For minor tonalities with faster paces, I associate passionate deep reds and purples and burgundies. For major tonalities with slow paces, I associate greens and yellows and golds, with some light blues.

    Color and Music Theory:
    Well, for me, I don’t mathematically associate intervals with color tones. I believe that colors and color chords have a certain personality to them– a different type of synesthesia where colors relate to emotions. In music we assign feelings to certain progression, rhythm, and note combinations because these sounds might mimic our voices when we talk. So in a way, music literally “speaks” to us.

    I agree with this statement: “Key-colour associations are the commonest form of synaesthesia in music, (Scholes, 1970). This might be because a change of key has only two properties: the musical pitch difference between the old and new keys (e.g. up or down a perfect fifth) and a colour change. Note-colour associations appear to be much rarer, and this might be because notes have multiple qualities, some possibly more salient than colour.”

    Some synesthetic tendencies are defined by cultural traditions: colors associated with femininity and masculinity. Others tend to reflect nature or the phenomenon itself, like music reflecting the emotions in our voice or our “mental voice,” or associating certain colors with the seasons and holidays. I know that during the classical and neoclassical era, even planets were associated with the chromatic scale, along with the colors associated with both the notes and the planets (read in a book called “Quadrivium”, page 400).

  3. I think that the computer program might work similarly to the iTunes Visualizer, but could correlate certain frequencies of sound (pitches) to a color and at certain amplitudes that might have signaled an accented chord or note.

    I have actually been introduced to this color theory before by famous (and likewise my #1 favorite) concert pianist Yevgeny Sudbin, who has an intellectual and musical affinity towards Scriabin:
    http://ow.ly/t66Ji
    http://ow.ly/t62Mt
    http://www.yevgenysudbin.com/artist.php?view=essays&rid=456

    When I hear Scriabin, I don’t see bursts of a single color, but bursts of two or more colors at once, essentially making up a “color chord.” The colors in this ‘chord’ vary with the degree of dissonance or consonance: the colors are closer together in tone when the intervals are less dissonant (octaves, perfect 4ths or 5ths, major 6ths, minor or major 3rds), and the colors are brighter with faster rhythms of music and more major tonalities or chord progressions. Like Scriabin, I think that the major chords I, IV, and V, can be associated with primary colors. Of course the colors will change as the modes of the music changes.

    For minor tonalities with slow tempos, I begin to associate cool and neutral colors. For minor tonalities with faster tempos, I associate passionate deep reds, purples, and burgundies. For major tonalities with slow paces, I associate greens and yellows and golds, with some light blues.

    I once had to do a lecture on musical synesthesia, specifically on the topic of “music as therapy,” asking people during my presentation what emotions they felt when listening to certain genres and certain keys as they were being played: tango, metal, Baroque opera, 12-tone, extremely atonal 12-tone, white noise, nature sounds…

    Commenting on http://www.musicandcolour.net/ “Color and Music Theory”:
    Well, for me, I don’t mathematically associate intervals with color tones, or the electromagnetic spectrum with sound frequencies for that matter. I believe that chords and “color chords” have correlative personalities-– a different type of synesthesia where chords relate to colors relate to emotions.

    I agree with this statement: “Key-colour associations are the commonest form of synaesthesia in music, (Scholes, 1970). This might be because a change of key has only two properties: the musical pitch difference between the old and new keys (e.g. up or down a perfect fifth) and a colour change. Note-colour associations appear to be much rarer, and this might be because notes have multiple qualities, some possibly more salient than colour.”

    In music we assign feelings to certain progressions, rhythms, and note combinations because, in one theory, these sounds might mimic our voices when we talk and think. So in a way, music literally “speaks” to us.

    Some synesthetic tendencies are defined by cultural traditions: colors associated with femininity and masculinity. Others tend to reflect nature or the phenomenon itself, like music reflecting the emotions in our physical or “mental” voice, or associating certain colors with the seasons and holidays. I know that during the classical and neoclassical era, even planets were associated with the chromatic scale, along with the colors associated with both the notes and the planets (read in a book called “Quadrivium”, page 400).

    • I mean, I suppose one could associate specific colors to the twelve musical notes, but when putting these colors together, dissonant color patterns should still relate to dissonant intervals.

      • Your posts are excellent food for thought and ideas about music. What a masterful performance by Sudbin – I can see how one could say this was a “richly colored” performance.

  4. 1. I think seeing the music portrayed as color is something new. It doesn’t really appeal to me that much due to the randomness of the color and no distinct reason for all the shape changes.
    2. I don’t really understand too much of what they are talking about, but I think it is very cool how that correlate certain notes with color and this could be used to portray music in a single art piece in an interesting way.
    3. I’m pretty sure i do not have synesthesia. Although it seems like it would be really cool at times to taste words or smell color, but also could be annoying at times.
    4. http://fineartamerica.com/art/paintings/album+cover/all

  5. 1) Color and music seem to relate to each other more than you would think. Notes can be warm and cold, just as colors can.
    2) I commend the author for putting in the time to make this interesting conclusion, but to me it seemed muddled and didn’t make much sense (I’m not a musician).
    3) I don’t think I have Synethesia, but I remember my sister doing a study about people having to read names of colors, but the names themselves were colored differently, and most people had a lot of trouble.
    4) http://mycolormusic.com

  6. 1. I think that it’s really interesting how the colours blend in the chords yet always seem to go together. I would be curious to see whether more dissonant chords caused colour patterns that were more contrasting.
    2. Though I consider myself to be a musician, I can’t really make heads or tails of this. I understood it at the beginning and I think that they’re assigning different intervals colours, but beyond that I’m not really sure.
    3. I am not synesthetic.
    4. http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2013/05/16/musiccolors/

  7. 1) I think this program is really cool. It is hard for me to tell the difference of certain notes to certain colors so it looks like they are just random, but I still think it is really amazing.
    2) I am not a musician, so I don’t really understand the tables and stuff, but I think the idea is really cool and would totally make sense if it was described to me.
    3) I am not synesthetic, but I bet I do make connections between certain things, just not to that extent.
    4) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/18/matching-music-to-color-uc-berkeley-research_n_3288165.html

  8. From a scientific perspective, color and sound both vary on different frequencies of light. It seems understandable, then, that they could have some kind of relationship. I’ve had ideas like this before with language. I have always loved music and have some experience with it, but I still have never seen a computer program designed for this purpose. I often associate numbers, letters, colors and personalities with color, but I do not have synesthesia – its not ingrained in the way I think. I think this is very interesting idea though.

  9. I really like the squares of color in the video (I think it was the second one…?). The colors could be viewed really well with that one and I like how the squares vary in size depending on the volume of the notes.
    I think its an interesting idea, connecting colors to notes. Using formulas and rules to do this is also intriguing but seems like a lot of work for not many amazing pronouncements. It would be cool if someone realized say tchaikovsky used specific color schemes for different pieces.
    The closest I get to synesthesia is that I commonly correlate people I know to colors but this might just be me making up stuff.
    http://www.5ensesmag.com/music-vs-art-vs-science/
    and I like this image too:
    http://fineartamerica.com/featured/color-of-music-deborah-lee.html
    so I will respond to m24cedes’ website: I think that it’s cool that people have similar ideas of music and color no matter the culture (though it is true that they only tested 100 people so maybe this hasn’t been quite proven yet.

  10. The usage of colors to represent a song is fascinating. It sort of reminds me of the whole “Describe the color red” thing, where you can’t describe something in words to someone who has never seen the color before or is blind. Scriaban describes it with SOUND. So… Props to him.

    The notes and explanations sort of make sense, but I’m not that much of a musician anymore and all I see are letters with funny shapes next to them.

    I don’t have synesthetic tendencies. I have vivid smell memories but I don’t associate names or places with colors, unless the person has brown hair or the place is green forest.

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-superhuman-mind/201302/learn-be-synesthete
    Here, we learn that synesthesia is also a product of setting while growing up and associating colors with letters and vice versa.

  11. I think mixing colors with music is interesting, but I don’t understand how it was decided which colors went with certain notes. It’s pretty cool that people have been trying to mix colors with music for hundreds of years, but I don’t actually like the video because the dots kind of distract me from the flow of the song.
    I’m not Senysthetic, and I don’t know of anyone who is.
    This is a link to an interesting podcast that ponders brains and synesthesia. http://www.radiolab.org/story/91709-limits/

  12. 1) I think it is interesting how we can draw emotions form music as well as color. When you put the two together it seems to make the feeling stronger and more real at the same time. He seems to use different shapes which also influences the listener/watcher.
    2) I am not a musician and I dont understand the graphs and tables shown, but I do feel like color and music are strongly connected and bring out emotions in people and that is why they can be paired together.
    3) I do not think I have Synesthetic tendencies, however I do associate names with shapes and objects to remember names. I dont know if that counts or not.
    4)http://theappendix.net/blog/2013/8/music-and-color-the-french-connection

  13. 1) I think the combination of the music with the color perpetuates the tone or feeling the music is trying to incite within the listener/ viewer. I enjoy this, i think it is new and intriguing and I am a fan of pushing the envelope in terms of music and art. I like this program.
    2) I don’t really know what the website is talking about but I find it certainly interesting how the notes are correlated to certain colors and when in a certain way they produce certain patterns or color combinations.
    3) I think I have synesthetic tendencies, I simply associate certain experiences and sounds with shapes or colors.
    4) http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-01-09/the-minds-eye-synesthesia-has-business-benefits

  14. 1) to be honest, the computer program/video thing really freaked me out. It was too much stimulation–I can do music OR visual but not both.

    2) I sing in choir, but I’ve never been great at the theory stuff, so the website made little sense. If someone explained it I might understand…

    3) I don’t have synesthesia, though I do associate colors with numbers (not to a great extent). I know someone who experiences a connection between sounds and taste, which I find very interesting.

    4)http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/sta/sta19.htm

  15. 1. I liked the computer program because it provides a visually stimulating thing to look at that also corresponds to the music. It’s a good idea, and it could create some cool art if tweaked with a little bit.
    2. As a musician, I get the impression that this was written by someone who isn’t a musician, or not a very serious musician. I didn’t really understand any of the science behind it, but I’m sure it’s solid, and that’s not my real issue with it. My real issue is that music is subjective, just like any other art form, so there is no one color scheme that everyone will relate to for the notes. For example, I personally associate the note “G” with a dark green color, an “F” with brown, and “Bb” with black. There’s no “right” or “wrong” answer for these things.
    3. I don’t think I have synesthesia. However, one of my piano teachers definitely does, as he says he has trouble playing certain notes when there is a lot of red in his vision.
    4. http://tayjazz.com/
    (my teacher with synesthesia)

  16. 1. I think the computer program is intriguing because, as someone said above, it represents in a way the combination of two forms of art–visual and auditory. While I appreciated the way color seemed to come naturally from the tenor or make-up of individual notes (explained well by the table in the first link), I thought the exercise was in some ways lacking because it did not further relate the notes to each other. By viewing the colors–for the purpose of this exercise, without the music that produced them–you could get an idea of what key the song was in as each individual note is played. However, what the mosaic of colors fails to convey are other elements I think are crucial to the artistic integrity of music: the pace of the song, for instance, or the tone beyond just key (melancholy, happy, etc.).
    2. I thought this link was really interesting because it explained that both color and music have more than one dimension, and I thought that was a cool idea. I also liked that it suggested the possibility of pairing the scale of light to a scale of music.
    3. I’ve heard of synesthesia before and have always thought of it in the extreme (ex: tasting color or sound) but I think everyone has a tendency to combine at least a couple of the senses. For me, I tend to see numbers with designated colors. I’m assuming that’s a common one.
    4. http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2011/01/26/synesthesia-music-visualization/

  17. 1) I think it is very interesting to link colors and music, because both are so strongly connect to emotion. I think that not only the color was important to the video, but also the different shapes and level of focus with them.
    2) I did not understand the charts.
    3) I don’t think I have synesthesia, but I do tend to associate certain colors with certain emotions.
    4) http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2013/05/16/musiccolors/

  18. 1. I really like the mixing colors with correlation with the music. They say music tells a story in every piece, well so does art. This video just seems to put it in a different view. The color/music is shown through the different pressures. Plus I love all the features in the swirls and spots.
    2. I’m not a musician and this site is pretty confusing. I think some of the tables were color at looking with the correlation between the music notes and colors.
    3. I don’t think I have synesthesia, but I’m pretty sure my friend Mykal does because she likes to put colors with certain numbers when organizing her tools/material.
    4. http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/sta/sta19.htm

  19. 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?

    I think it is very intriguing seeing how color and music intersect in a more utilitarian perspective purely based on math and calculations. However the shapes sizes shades that i associate with the feelings and emotions of the notes played together I think can very rarely be fit into an equation. This is one of the things that enticed me about art. The lack of simple quick easy clean equations that we can just plug in an emotion or theme and some paint and just spit out art intrigues me the variability the individuality with each piece of art is what makes art at least to me entirely awesome to be honest. The musical sight honestly confused me to no end until i got to the bottom and watched the video where notes were played and lines of color the most basic representation were presented that appealed to me more than the original video for some reason. This sight also seemed relevant. http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=F0C00JNU

  20. 1) The above video is an interesting combination of two types of art, but it seems very arbitrary in both the relationship between note, color and shape. I like the idea that notes and chords are each associated with a color, but it doesn’t have any impact on me as I don’t think that such relationships exist for non-synesthesiacs.
    2) I have some experience with music theory and I think it’s interesting that they found similar patterns in the structure of notes and colors, but I don’t think that it has any way to be proven given the subjective nature of music and color. Both are based on observation, but there is a large emotional component to both music and art which would make it very hard to study. I did really like the way the displayed the notes in the video (much more than the first video) and it felt like there was a much clearer association between the colors and notes.
    3) I don’t have synesthesia, but I think it would be really cool to be able to experience something with multiple perceptions or senses.
    4. http://www.theverge.com/2013/11/10/5087706/extreme-synesthesia-texas-teenager-says-she-can-feel-the-machines-around-her

  21. 1. I thought the computer programer was interesting. Like someone mentioned earlier, it reminded me of that setting on itunes (I think it’s called the visualizer?) where there are visuals that are in sync with the music that’s being played. Music and color similarly evoke strong emotional responses so it’s powerful to both art forms combined.
    2. The charts connecting music theory and color were immensely detailed and it’s clear that the researcher put a lot of work into assembling this data. A lot of it went over my head because I don’t know a lot about music theory but it’s interesting to see the correlation on a more detailed, scientific level.
    3. I don’t think I have synesthesia, however I do tend to associate colors with different things. For example I’ve always thought of different types of pain on a color scale. I think of a dull, aching sensation as a deep blue or purple and sharp stinging pain as red or orange. I feel like that’s a pretty common notion though. I think it’s interesting that women and left-handed people are more likely to have synesthesia.
    4. http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/08/05/daniel-tammet-thinking-in-numbers/

  22. I think it’s interesting that the computer responds to the loudness/ intensity of the music as well as which notes were being played. I wonder what it would look like if I different instrument was being played.
    In the first link it looks like they are matching up the notes with colors based off the octaves and other things that change from note to note. They were using a consistent system, not just randomly matching things up.
    I will do the test at school tomorrow with some friends.

  23. 1. I think there have a similarity between color and music, when music notes combined together, it can make a warm or cold sound, just like color also have the worm and cold.
    2. I”m not a musician, I can’t understand it mostly, but from the website, I can see that there must be some connection between music and color, they can give people different feelings by different combinations.
    3. I had synesthesia before, but it’s more like a image, not just a color.
    http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2011/01/26/synesthesia-music-visualization/

  24. I think that the correlation between color and music is really strong. Musicians talk a lot about timbre and the “feeling” of different notes and tones. For instance, the key of D minor is often known as the saddest of all keys, and might correspond to a dark, cool blue. I sometimes correspond music to colors, but most often, I correlate words and numbers to colors instead. I thought this Superbowl ad was extremely representative of this thought. This speaker ad shows music as different colors in different rooms and shows what happens when they blend. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuQ7GuJBh40

  25. 1. While interesting, I find that colors do not correspond to notes. It is a completely subjective and strange way to think about a note. This logic used in finding the color for notes is similar to any other logic. Like a D. Take D, the D is the second note in a C major scale, so 2D means 2 dimensional and 2 dimensional means blue. It makes no sense.
    2. I do piano and I understand what they are trying to say here, but honestly, it’s the same thing. You can do any number of random pseudo-math problems and applications of numbers to find a color and then say that D means yellow.
    3. Wikipedia has some good info about synesthesia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synesthesia

  26. 1. I found the first visual piano piece kind of confusing, because so many colors were forming all at once, and I couldn’t really pick up on the pattern, but it was visually interesting.
    2. Although I am learning music, I did not understand anything from the article. How do they know which note is which color? Does it have to do with which notes make up the chord and which other colors make up the color?
    3. I do have synesthetic tendencies. Ever since I learned the alphabet, I can remember the letters having set colors that could not be changed. I would tell people that a certain letter was a certain color, and they wouldn’t understand. Some of my friends have color alphabets too, and we would argue about which colors belong to which letters. Recently, I recited my color alphabet to my parents, they wrote it down, and without looking at the paper, I recited it again exactly the same way. The only things that have colors in my mind so far are letters, numbers, songs, voices, and days of the week. I am left-handed and it said that left-handed people are more likely to experience synesthesia.
    4. I found an article on synesthesia relating to music: http://www.synesthesiatest.org/blog/synesthesia-music-john-burke

    • This interesting thing for me about color is memory. I often remember color incorrectly because I am placing the colors in my mind the way I want them – envisioning them and composing the scene how I think it should look, not how it did look.

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