The colour of music

  • May 23, 2012

Light and sound both travel in waves. As the frequency of the sound waves change, so does their pitch. As the frequency of light waves change, so does their colour.

The frequencies we hear in modern music are typically oriented around a frequency we refer to as “concert pitch” – typically this is 440Hz and the note is the A above middle C. 440Hz is an arbitrary number though, and different people have different reasons for preferring other values. There are people who strongly believe that 432Hz is “deeply connected with nature” and that 440Hz is bad for us.

Throw into this mix the idea that colour and the notes in the western musical scale are related. There are 7 colours in a rainbow and 7 notes in a scale. 1st, 3rd and 5th intervals make a major chord, the 1st 3rd and 5th colours from the rainbow are the primary colours. Coincidence, or clues to the secret workings of the universe?

And what about synesthesia? Why do some people see music or hear colours? Is it all down to the vibrations of the strings at the heart of matter?

I’d be interested to hear what you think.


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