• Q and A
  • Q&A - Music


Do some music composers associate notes with specific colors?
I read that some music composers associated the notes with specific colors (ex: f=green). I want to know if you have any references (other than Scriabin) of such composers and/or if there is a standard on what note can be associated with what color and if painters (other than Kandinsky) tried to play music through their pieces.

In my research, I've seen lots about the correlation between color and music. Apparently Schopenaur (I'm guessing at the spelling of his name) was deeply into this idea, and in the late 19th century somebody (I'll have to go back and look for whom) created some elaborate calliope-like device that displayed colors that corresponded with the notes being played. I think that the general idea goes as far back as Goethe's studies of color. An intersting footnote is (I think) the idea that color is more like our sense of smell, because it is simultaneously stimulus and sensation... This in no way refutes a connection between color and music, I think, only opens up the notion a bit. This idea is put forth quite eloquently in Manlio Brusatin's book A History of Colors.

I recommend that you check out the Synaesthesia web site for information on this (synaesthesia is when an individual makes cross-connections between senses, for example seeing music in terms of different colours).

Christopher Willard
A terrific place to start is John Gage's Color and Culture, in the big chapter on this issue. Myles Davis is another who associated them.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
A Russsian composer SCRIABIN was trying to link color and music. I am  searching for more material in this area. Scriabin finally saw probably too many colours and comitted suicide.

Jose Luis Caivano
I have published an article in COLOR RESEARCH AND APPLICATION about color and sound: Caivano, J. L. 1994. "Color and sound: physical and psychophysical relations", COLOR RESEARCH AND APPLICATION vol. 19, Nr. 2, pp. 126-136.

A Guide to Color Symbolism

Subscribe to the free Color Matters Newsletter

Color Matters is a registered trademark of J.L. Morton.
Graphics and Text: Copyright (c) 1995-2017, J.L.Morton, All rights reserved


Protected by Copyscape Original Content Check