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Leonardo,Vol. 11, pp. 225-226. 0Pergamon Press Ltd. 1978. Printed in Great Britain. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN COLOUR AND MUSIC* W. Garner** The pitch or frequency of middle C on the piano is approximately 250 vibrations per second, and that of the C below (mid-baritone) is 125 vibrations per second. Therefore this range, termed an octave, is from 125-250 vibrations per second. An octave on a piano contains 12 semitones: C, C sharp, D, D sharp, E, F, F sharp, G, G sharp, A, A sharp, B, and C. In the interest of maximum simplicity the following artificial scale is used in which the notes in the scale are equidistant [1 1 , the common interval being 10.416 vibrations per second. Therefore the frequencies are: 125.0; 135.4; 145.8; 156.2; 166.6; 177.8; 187.5; 197.9; 208.3; 218.7; 229.1; 239.5; and 250.0. The spectrum of visible light ranges approximately from wavelength 0.4000 x 10-3 to 0.8000x 10-3 mm. For the purpose of this discussion the frequenciescan be taken as the reciprocal of the wavelength, giving a range from 1.25 to 2.50 arbitrary units. Multiplying by 100gives the same range of frequenciesas the particular octave on the piano which is selected, i.e. 125 to 250. There is, therefore, ground for speculation that the eye may ‘think’ in octaves, like the ear, and that it might be possibleto ‘translate’an octave of sound precisely into an octave of light. This is particularly so because the eye dividesthe spectrum into 12distinguishable colours: red, red-orange, orange, orange-yellow, yellow, yellow-green, green, green-blue, blue, blue-indigo, indigo, indigo-violet, and violet; although many people cannot see indigo as a separate colour. The figure showsan octave of sound plotted against an octave of light, using the range of frequency units from 125to 250 in each case. The sound range has been marked with the frequencies of each of the 12 notes in this particular octave and the musical notes indicated. The light range has been marked with the positions of exactly the same frequencies. In colour physics, the spectrum colour is normally thought of in terms of wavelength and not frequency, so in addition, each indicated frequency has been marked with the wavelength corresponding to that frequency. Using the common delimitations of colour according to wavelength, namely 0.40-0.43 violet (V), 0.43-0.45 blueviolet (BV), 0.48-0.51 blue-green (BG), 0.51-0.55 green(G),0.55-0.57 yellow-green (YG),0.57-0.59 yellow (Y), 0.59-0.63 orange (0)and 0.63-0.80 red (R), the colour positions have been added. A colour can be *ReprintedfromJ. SOC. of Dyers and Colourists91,313 (1975) with permission. Copyright 1975 by the Society of Dyers and Colourists. **Quantings, Upper Bourne End, Buckinghamshire, England. definedequally asa frequencyor a wavelengthrange. It is, therefore, possible to read offfrom the graph the colour which should correspond to any givennote. Forexample, the note G corresponds to some particular hue of blue-green. This discussion relates to pure spectrum colours, and not to the colours of artists’ paints which result from the subtraction of spectrum colours from white light. Consequently ‘God Savethe Queen’should be capable of being translated into colour. The first line of this tune has the notes G-G-A-F#-G-A, and this would translate into a ‘colour tune’ as bluegreen, bluegreen, blue-violet, green, blue-green, and blueviolet. The musical notes are arranged seriallyin time, and by means of a projector and slides,the colour notes can similarlybe arranged. However, when the supposition is examined in more detail, many problems arise: (1) ‘TheQueen’can be played in twelve different keys, one for each semitone, sounding the same in all of them, except for being ‘higher’or ‘lower’ in pitch. However,the ‘colour tune’ varies very greatly according to the ‘key’. The tune for G maj. is given above. For D maj. it is red, red, yellow, dark red, red, yellow. For E maj. it is yellow, yellow, green, orange-red, green. For A maj...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-9282
Print ISSN
0024-094X
Pages
pp. 225-226
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-04
Open Access
No
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