And what if we make colorful music?

Like the renowned musician and philosopher Pythagoras once said, "There is geometry in the buzzing of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres."


6/27/20233 min read

Since the beginning of timehuman beings have sought ways to express their emotions and thoughts. One of these ways is through art, and in particular, through music and color. But what would happen if we could combine these two elements and create a new form of art? This is the question we pose today: And what if we make music of colors?

The idea of combining music and color is not new. In fact, various artists and scientists throughout history have explored this possibility. For example, the mathematical physicist Sir Isaac Newton proposed a theory in which he related the colors of the light spectrum to the notes of the musical scale. However, this theory was not widely explored at the time because the musical rules of the era had not evolved enough to interpret the "color melody" that Newton proposed.

Newton's experiments involved passing sunlight through a prism, which resulted in the division of light into a spectrum of colors, commonly remembered as ROYGBIV (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet). He demonstrated how colors arise from the selective absorption, reflection, or transmission of the various component parts of incident light (Newton, 1704).

Interestingly, Newton's understanding of color was heavily influenced by his knowledge of music theory. He established an analogy between the color spectrum and the musical scale. The seven notes of the musical scale before returning to the octave were seen as analogous to the colors of the rainbow (Pickles, 2014).

This led to Newton's rainbow forming the familiar ROYGBIV because he thought that the range of visible colors should be analogous to the seven-note musical scale. In fact, music drove him to add two new colors (orange and indigo) to the traditional five-color rainbow of the time (Smithsonian, n.d.).

It was not until the 18th century, with the development of the tonal system by musicians like Johann Sebastian Bach, that a solid structure for musical composition was established. This tonal system, which establishes a hierarchy of chords and tonalities within a musical piece, provided a basis for exploring the relationship between music and color (Coca, National University of La Plata). 

In the 20th century, new currents in music emerged that questioned and broke with established tonal conventions. Movements such as impressionism, expressionism, and dodecaphonism explored new forms of harmony, melody, and musical structure (Burton-Hill, 2014). Parallelly, artists like Wassily Kandinsky and Robert Delaunay explored the relationship between color and music in their works.

Today, with the advancement of technology and science, we have the opportunity to revisit Newton's idea and explore it thoroughly. Could we, for example, create a "color palette" based on the rules of music theory? Could we "tune" our colors in the same way we tune our musical notes?

To answer these questions, we need to understand more deeply the relationship between music and color. Music, in its essence, is a series of vibrations that our ear perceives as sound. These vibrations, or sound waves, have a specific frequency that determines the musical note we hear. Similarly, color is the result of how our eye perceives different frequencies of light.

Therefore, if we could find a way to correlate these two frequencies, we might be able to "translate" music into color and vice versa. This would allow us to create a new form of art, one in which music and color intertwine to create a unique synesthetic experience.

In Mia, we explore the connection between the chromatic color circles and the harmonic circles of music. This theoretical proposal allows us to create a unique experience by merging these two artistic dimensions.

Mia provides a space to discuss and create music of colors, sharing this knowledge with everyone. The theory is open to be explored, reviewed, and questioned, inviting us to discover the fascinating world of color and its relationship with music. Thank you for your time and consideration!

Alberto Rubio

Nahualismo prehispanico en Mi Mayor (fraccion de la pieza original)


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