Mind Music Physics

What color is Middle “C”? Musical Pitch Related to Color

Years ago I purchased a program called Absolute Pitch which plays notes at random and assigns colors to help you learn to experience the unique “C”-ness of the “C” note in an atonal context. In the version I paid for Absolute Pitch 2.22 the test part wasn’t working. The Absolute Pitch does a great job in terms of choosing the most distinct 12 color pitches, but shouldn’t “Middle C” be yellow, sun colored?

absolutepitch

As far as colors go, I’ve seen others assigned to the notes.

circle of fifths

Is any one color “correct” for a particular note, or is this an individual choice? What I want to see is a translation of€  audio frequencies to visual frequencies. If found this low resolution map which looks interesting, but I don’t want to use black and grey as colors. Middle C is 261.626 hertz and

light_and_sound_spectra

The wavelength of each band of color in the visible spectrum (measured in nanometers, nm) can be halved repeatedly until the rate of its vibration falls within the octaves of the audible spectrum (measured in Hertz, Hz), giving a table of musical notes that correspond to each color (see Figure 2).

Eric L. Wagner of wagneric.com has an interesting analysis with a chart:

Light is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum, higher in frequency than radio waves, but below X-rays. Wavelengths we can see are between approximately 380nm and 780nm. Curiously, the spectrum of visible light, between ultraviolet and infrared, is almost exactly an octave, with the visible edge of ultraviolet having double the frequency (and half the wavelength) of the visible edge of infrared. …€

Corresponding light-spectrum harmonics were computed from equal temperament musical pitches, using a reference of A440 and a half-step frequency ratio of 21/12. Given the speed of light, C = 299792458 meters/second, and Œª=C/F, wavelengths were computed for each frequency. The 780.75nm “F” falls outside of the 380-780nm range but I added it for interest. Note that exactly 12 pitches fit within the range. The light spectrum “C” is 41 octaves above middle-C

F — 349.228231 Hz ~ 383.980501 THz ~ 780.749171 nm
F# — 369.994423 Hz ~ 406.813170 THz ~ 736.929087 nm
G — 391.995436 Hz ~ 431.003540 THz ~ 695.568436 nm
G# — 415.304698 Hz ~ 456.632344 THz ~ 656.529179 nm
A — 440.000000 Hz ~ 483.785116 THz ~ 619.681028 nm
Bflat — 466.163762 Hz ~ 512.552476 THz ~ 584.901004 nm
B — 493.883301 Hz ~ 543.030432 THz ~ 552.073033 nm
C — 523.251131 Hz ~ 575.320702 THz ~ 521.087555 nm
C# — 554.365262 Hz ~ 609.531052 THz ~ 491.841158 nm
D — 587.329536 Hz ~ 645.775654 THz ~ 464.236235 nm
Eflat — 622.253967 Hz ~ 684.175473 THz ~ 438.180657 nm
E — 659.255114 Hz ~ 724.858663 THz ~ 413.587466 nm
F — 698.456463 Hz ~ 767.961002 THz ~ 390.374586 nm

My eye has trouble telling the difference between the different reds, greens and purples in this chart above. Anyway, when I take the visible spectrum and use a ruler in a graphics program and put Middle C exactly in the middle, I get this color, a mix of sun and green grass.

The Real Middle “C”

(html: #7bb81c)

realmiddlecThere are many ways to look at it, I suppose.

https://TrueStrangeNews.com

 

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Jenny
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Jenny

Here’s an interesting link to a pitch to color converter. http://www.flutopedia.com/sound_color.htm

Jenny
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Jenny

I stumbled across an interesting product which combines resonant light/color frequencies with tone frequency therapy. This musician uses a higher tuning of A=444. Check it out https://m.youtube.com/?#/watch?v=ADLLHkKw2lwje

Ted Rothrock
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Ted Rothrock

My new app helps you learn to recognize musical pitches by color based on your personal preferences. It’s called Pitch Prism and it’s available for iPhone and iPad.

Download the app here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pitch-prism/id979004832?mt=8

See it in action here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEOx5fM8Kj4

Dale
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Dale

This study will interest you. It reports tendencies among the subjects over associations between colours and pitch classes, but also some variance.

http://www.daysyn.com/Rogers1987.pdf

Maloje
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Maloje

I suggest that you assume that the connection between sound and light is the shape of the energy. Try researching cymatics of both and note the similarities of particular pitches and colours.

Mark Sandbrn
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Mark Sandbrn

My name is Mark Sandborn and I am a researcher, educator, music theorist and technology developer regarding color, sound, and language. For the past 18 years I have worked professionally in this domain. I have specifically been focused on the harmonic science of sound (which involves both the study of music structure and linguistic structure) and the harmonic structure of the photon, the harmonic symmetry of the electromagnetic wave, and the harmonic science of tristimulus color. As I have found through my many years of investigating the topic of color and sound, virtually all research has been specifically focused on… Read more »

isabel
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isabel

hello my name is Isabel and i am trying to create a science project to see wether musical notes represent specific colors and if so, if it can be compared to a musical piece that reflects on a painting or artwork. I am a little bit confused though and because I’m relatively young i don’t know wether this is possible or not. do music notes have like colors? and if so, how can you find that color or how can you prove that

t
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t

i’m supprised no one seems to take into condieration…

an octave of light goes off the visible spectrum both ways – people are mapping just the visible colors to the scale, which means they are mapping less than an octave of light onto an octave of notes… that doesn’t make sense to me

i also have to disagree with the person that said that a note (like F sharp for example) has none of its own characteristics. does green not have any characteristics? its just a waveform to you??? that’s crazy.

John Mooter
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John Mooter

I have perfect pitch. I have had it since I was a young boy. I t was discovered when tiI was around 10, but probably had it before that. The only comparison between colors and musical notes that I can find is that I see recognizing notes as similar to recognizing a color. I hear a “C”, it is “C”; I see blue, it is blue. Other than that, I see no connection between notes and color. Besides, these notes are merely assigned half steps. There are infinite steps between a half step….I cannot see how a color has anything… Read more »

rook
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rook

Russ, Your calculations are valid in terms of the numerator, but unfortunately this widely parroted derivation is incomplete and therefore incorrect. The problem is the assumption of equivalency between the frequency of a sound wave and the velocity of a light wave. A common misconception is that frequency is a function of velocity. It isn’t. This is immediately proven by the fact that light waves do not change speed at all, period. Which of course means that it cannot in any way be a function of anything that changes, and in both light and sound events, frequencies modulate. Granted, they… Read more »

Russ
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Russ

Middle C is 261.63 Hz…. It used to be 256, but it makes little difference. If you raise this frequency 41 octaves i.e 261.63 x 2 (to the power of ) 41, you get a frequency of ~575 Terrahertz or a wavelength of 521 nanometres. THIS IS GREEN!!! This is simple mathematics anyone can do with a scientific calculator. There’s no need to resort to mysticism, or colour wheels; a C remains a C no matter how high you go. Anyway the issue of colour becomes problematic for F, F# & G , as they are off the visible scale.… Read more »

Bracha
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Bracha

I’ve got what I think is perfect pitch as it relates to colors. I can see any color spectrum and be able to put them from lightest to darkest; etc. I took a test to be able to put color blocks from greens to blues to reds; etc. When I finished, the person asked if I had a question. I said I was done. They couldn’t believe I had done it so fast. They checked and double checked my work and couldn’t believe I was 100% accurate. It’s been this was as long as I can remember. I’m trying to… Read more »

Maloje
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Maloje

Maybe this will help you all. The key thing to remember is that when we listen to music we do not see the light; we feel it. Einstein’s equation does not work for the relationship between pitch and visible colour frequencies, it is Planck. As our eyes are only able to process one octave of light frequencies at A44 to G#45 they are not designed to detect any colour within the audible range (approx) between A0 and A9. However, the body/mind/spirit is able to process the music as emotional energy where the spectrum is much higher and the speed of… Read more »

occupyyourlives
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occupyyourlives

If you could get any instrument to produce such a high vibrating “noise”, you would see the string vibrating becoming hot enough to emit light. Each element has a specific spectrum (light key combination identifier per element). This light emitted changes with higher vibrations (EM spectrum) or lower vibrating states (0 degrees Kelvin). All matter at Absolute zero emits no light, except hydrogen.

sg12909
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sg12909

I too can “visualize”, or rather, associate colours with pitches. C is yellow, D is blue, E is a bolder yellow, F is red-orange, G is light green, A is brown-orange and B is a dull brown for me. The sharps and flats are different mixes of colors. And F sharp is a dull or “sour” red-orange- pretty close to red. I’m not sure whether this association came from seeing a coloured piano keyboard when I was young, or if it is natural. I also associate vague feelings like warmth, as was previously mentioned in another post. Just one note:… Read more »

Goddy Oku
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Goddy Oku

Colors are vibrational, same as sounds; and different colors have different rates of vibration. It follows that different notes have different colors. The intriguing part is why octaves of the same note have the same color? The Color of C in a mystic journal I own is yello-green.

Goddy Oku
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Goddy Oku

Colors are vibrational, same as sounds; and different colors have different rates of vibration. It follows that different notes have different colors. The intriguing part is why octaves of the same note have the same color?

george spackman
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george spackman

Im synesthetic and have always seen f# as red and c as light green, both of which were right on with the charts. All other people i have met who are synesthetic see f# as red as well. Doesn’t it seem as if you CAN actually relate color to pitch accurately seeing as many, many people see things as they have been mathematically proven?

Mirlen101
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Mirlen101
Mirlen101
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Mirlen101

The color wheel is logically separated into 12 parts . It can be reduced to 6 or 3 . 3 being the primary colors . Comparing the two ( color spectrum and audio spectrum )is not an exact science . But it seems to me that comparing twelve to twelve is a good fit ;-)Not perfect though , like I said not an exact science 😉 But if you would have followed my link to my Color Research diagrams you would have seen that I had split the color spectrum into 7 major and 7 minor .

bb
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bb

it does not matter if A is set to 440 or 435 or anything else for that matter. this is arbitrary. to assigne colours to musical notes is as simple as dividing the visable spectrum into 12 equal parts. the first division coresponds to the root, the 2nd division is the minor 2nd, and so on. the only reason for 12 parts is that this is the western scale. other cultures have more or less notes making up they’re octave(the octave is the same for all scale systems as it is doubleing the frequency by definition). the notion of frequency… Read more »

Mirlen101
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Mirlen101

That hearing the note in context is a good point . One thing most people don’t realise is the brain doesn’t always work in a predictable or what we would consider a logical manner . If you look at people who have super human memory they often have had some sort of brain damage ;-/ Often people like the ” Brain Man ” Daniel Tammet or Laurence Kim Peek ” Rainman ” have had brain damage or were born with brain abnormalities . Some have color-graphemic synesthesia . These abnormalities in the brain allowed some to bypass parts of the… Read more »

Mirlen101
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Mirlen101

I agree.Most make the mistake of trying to do this in exact terms . It can’t be done . It can only be done in a general way as a tool . Like for teaching perfect pitch . Or artistic representation of color as sound . Giving “C” or any other note a particular color that is correct is not possible because the frequencies do not translate in an exact manner. There are several researchers who have attributed various colors to the notes but none totally agree . But they do generally follow a basic plan . That the frequencies… Read more »

Ryan Hirst
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Ryan Hirst

Hello, I thought I’d drop a line, since this has been on my mind a lot. I am a musician without perfect pitch, and I am in the process of attempting to develop it. I choose a perfectly rational approach because thats how I think. Several things strike me. First, for a language with only 12 words, it is remarkable that the vast majority of even lifetime musicians cannot distinguish the “colors” if, indeed, such an analogy holds (it does not, which I am happy to discuss if you want). There is a new-age audio program called the Perfect Pitch… Read more »

Mirlen101
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Mirlen101

You might want to check out my work on youtube . I have a few early attempts at combining music with color and shapes . It’s not anywhere near a sync between the two yet though . Like I said very early attempt . My later work will be way more synchronized and tuned to the notes/color frequencies. I’m developing a system for doing these in analog . This is using what’s called “a video feedback loop system “

simon
Guest
simon

Hello

I think all of this is very interesting stuff too. I am a musician and architect, for long time i try to find the best way to visualize the music andd connect sound and color. I found the interesting site connected with these topics. It can show you where will the notes fall on the spectrum if derived from a scale system tuned to A-432, this will near Pithagorean scale (A 430.54). I am sceptic man and i am interesting only in a science level of this site.
http://www.lunarplanner.com/Harmonics/planetary-harmonics.html

bomtailey
Guest
bomtailey

This is very interesting stuff
I’m looking at ways of visually representing different types data in outdoor art installations at scale and came across this by chance.
I’m imagining a choir performance with live colour wash on the building behind responding in real-time to the pitch of the music.

Mirlen101
Guest
Mirlen101

I’ve been looking into this from an artist perspective. I’m no mathematician . I find all this helpful because I was trying to match the color wheel ( color spectrum )to the sound spectrum . I’m going to be creating a set of music videos that have colored notes . Each note will have a corresponding color association . One thing I’ve been looking at is the relationship between wave lengths and force . An example is electricity . Higher volts produce higher penetration like an arc or static >>>>>>> Higher amps produce higher pushing force ))))))))) It’s like comparing… Read more »

thegnu
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thegnu

the math that person did for the pitch color is accurate. you take, for example, A440, multiply it by 2^40 (i think it’s 40) and you get a frequency in the visible spectrum. you have to just go with doublings of the frequency, if you’re using equal temperment. it would be interesting to follow the natural harmonic series up mathematically, and see how the results differed, but it would take a better man than i.

Liam
Guest
Liam

I just started thinking about this last week when I listened to a podcast on the equation E=mc2. I was thinking about the fact that if all matter has an equivalence in energy, then different forms of energy must have equivalents too. I deduced that if A = 440 hrz, then you should be able to double it over and over until the frequency was in the visible light spectrum. As an note of interest, I’ve recently stumbled across the conspiracy theory about absolute pitch being historically rooted in A-432 instead of A-440. Apparently, A-432 allows the other notes of… Read more »

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