My Math Forum > Art How musical notes and colors are connected, Sir Isaac Newton

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 March 13th, 2015, 05:53 PM #1 Newbie   Joined: Mar 2015 From: Europe Posts: 2 Thanks: 0 How musical notes and colors are connected, Sir Isaac Newton Sir Isaac Newton first discovered a connection between colors and musical notes, as he wrote about in Opticks, in 1704. Since that time, the theories have been many. Here are an image of three centuries of color scale: In your opinion, what merit is there to the idea of connecting notes and colors, and it one system more «correct» than another? Here's some more info on it https://xenophilius.wordpress.com/20...ated-to-color/ Visible spectrum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia I haven't read up on it yet.
 April 23rd, 2015, 07:41 PM #2 Math Team   Joined: Nov 2014 From: Australia Posts: 689 Thanks: 244 Although I have no explanation, I believe that there is merit to this. I've been in several choir rehearsals where the conductor can say "Make that more purple" and everyone will do exactly what he wants without explanation. Surely that can't be a coincidence. I've also heard stories of people who actually see colour when listening to music. I'm not sure whether this is true, but it would certainly lend substance to this sound-colour connection. Saying that one method is correct, however, seems wrong. When heard alone, a note may seem a certain colour. But listen to that note in the context of a song, it may seem a completely different colour. For example, C is red on most of those spectrums, but play it in an A flat major chord (where C is the third of the chord) and to most people it will sound light and sunny. Yellow would seem a better fit in this context.
 April 24th, 2015, 02:52 PM #3 Math Team     Joined: May 2013 From: The Astral plane Posts: 2,304 Thanks: 961 Math Focus: Wibbly wobbly timey-wimey stuff. I suspect the idea is based on frequencies in music scales. For example there is a different frequency difference between the notes E and F (a half-step) and B and C (another half-step.). (Leave it to a Physics major who plays trumpet to know that!) The frequencies of the colors scale to the frequencies of the notes. -Dan Edit: Here's a link with frequencies listed. Thanks from MarkFL Last edited by topsquark; April 24th, 2015 at 02:55 PM.
April 24th, 2015, 03:17 PM   #4
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by topsquark I suspect the idea is based on frequencies in music scales. For example there is a different frequency difference between the notes E and F (a half-step) and B and C (another half-step.). (Leave it to a Physics major who plays trumpet to know that!) The frequencies of the colors scale to the frequencies of the notes. -Dan Edit: Here's a link with frequencies listed.
Yes we can use the following IVP ($F$ is frequency, or pitch and $I$ is the interval in half-steps):

$\displaystyle \frac{dF}{dI}=kF$ where $\displaystyle F(0)=F_0,\,F(12)=2F_0$

to obtain the well-tempered scale:

$\displaystyle F_n=F_0\cdot2^{\frac{I}{12}}$

Another horn player here.

 April 24th, 2015, 03:56 PM #5 Math Team   Joined: Nov 2014 From: Australia Posts: 689 Thanks: 244 I was arguing from a purely musical standpoint and not a scientific one. The idea that each note can be assigned a colour no matter the context is, in my opinion, completely wrong. If you are talking science, then the frequency argument is completely valid. I feel, though, that this doesn't capture the complete potential of a note. For the record, I'm more of a musician than a maths geek
 May 29th, 2015, 01:29 PM #6 Member   Joined: Jan 2014 Posts: 86 Thanks: 4 I'm skeptical about this. It would be more logical to associate colors with timbre (aka "tone color"). My case is that more full timbres with more harmonics give me the impression of a rainbow of bright colors while simpler timbres that of a dull monochrome. Also a harmonic M7 interval gives me this picture of shimmer like starring at the sun. But, to associate specific fundamental pitches to colors it never happened for me. Afterall in music ratios are king, not absolute values. I have to ask, does anybody assign any music to images?
 June 19th, 2015, 09:22 PM #7 Senior Member   Joined: May 2015 From: Varanasi Posts: 110 Thanks: 5 Math Focus: Calculus I also cannot understand this connection.Have you seen old windows media player, when you play a song in one of the themes you see waves of colors shaking and dancing.When you keep watching it continuously and keep listening to the song along with it after some time you will get a feel that those waves are playing that music.Though that is an illusion but it happens.Actually the color waves are affected by the frequency of sound.But can't say anything exactly.Relating color with sound is just a coincidence and a matter of relating two nearly similar thing or are they really dependent. Asazzjazz said if there are really some people who see colors while listening to music its really awesome.I would passionately love to be one of them and discover the reason if its possible in some next life.

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# Did Sir Issac Newton play music?

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