top of page

Does Music Have Color? (Part 1)

On the surface, color is visual and music is aural. But is there a connection?

Does music have color?

What I mean is, can certain colors be associated with music? Let's face it, there does seem to be a connection or a bond between the two – music and color.

Just to be clear, when I talk about color, I'm not referring to chromaticism, or non diatonic pitches. I'm also not referring to tonal color or timbre. What I'm talking about here is visual color.

I remember reading about astronauts in the early space program that were being tested in order to determine the effects of prolonged isolation during space travel.

After several weeks in isolation, they weren't all that surprised to discover that it was difficult on the astronauts.

What surprised NASA, however, were the aspects of prolonged isolation that were the most difficult – the loss of human connection.

Connection is critical.

To take things further, there is a connection between "music" and "color". That connection just happens to be emotion.

After all, humans are emotional beings and we tend to respond to sensual stimuli, at least in part, emotionally.

In this article, a test group was asked to listen to a piece of music and associate a color with how the music made them feel. There was a remarkable similarity of colors assigned to the same music sample by each participant.

Quite simply, music tends to elicit emotional responses and color tends to correspond to certain emotions – hence the connection between music and color.

So people tend to see music and color similarly, but is this commonality a matter of nature or nurture?

Well, this is a complicated question that hasn't been definitively answered at this point, but there is a good bit of evidence that leans toward nature.

This is a fascinating topic and has some pretty heavy implications for music in this culture and beyond. You can read the full article here.

So, what do you think? Does Western music have the "formula" for the creation and performance of emotional music? Is this a narrow point of view? Comment and let me know...


bottom of page