Many gifted musicians have been born with color-sound synaesthesia, where certain tones are associated with particular colors. This project attempts to gauge whether associating colors with particular tones can help develop pitch recognition even in those who do not naturally possess color-sound synaesthesia—in short, to assess whether a form of synaesthetisia can be developed through computer exercises, and whether this can help musicians develop a better aware of pitch.

The purpose of this project is to see whether associating colors and tones can help individuals develop better pitch awareness compared to conventional methods of teaching this skill. This will be done through having users complete several computer exercises that link color and tone, culminating in a tone-and-color memory game. Through several iterations, the hypothesis is that users will develop a better awareness of tone, something closer to that found in musicians who possess color-sound synaesthesia.

The inspiration for this game is the experience of color-sound synesthesia, which is commonly found in very musical people.  Grapheme color Synesthesia is where an individual's perception of numbers and letters is associated with the experience of colors.  Famous composers with color synesthesia include Alexander Scriabin and Jean Sibelius.   This proposal is to develop a memory game using technologies intended to improve the retention and memory of graphemes by individuals without synesthesia in music.

Using color to match a specific note is an ideal method for teaching ear training, as it engages the natural human tendency toward color-sound synaesthesia and allows for note recognition to be learned through multiple channels.

The idea of “multiple intelligences” states that people should be taught using different kinds of techniques, because each person has a medium through which they learn the best. Some people learn best through words, others through images, and others through movement. In this case, teaching note recognition to people who may be highly visual, and find this a better way to identify tones. Practice pitch recognition with tone and pre-fixed color using memory games.

Using Alexander Scriabin’s “color-sound” correspondences below as reference to create memory games and web ear-training exercises. Example of scheme of “color hearing” correspondences by Alexander Scriabin:

This project’s goal is not to standardize Alexander Scriabin’s colors to existing tuning systems.  The purpose of this project is to create a study to coordinate colors in our day-to-day surroundings as a reflection of sounds.  Students and teachers can come up with their own set of colors, and then assign them to their desired order to create music as well as tuning exercises by brightening or darkening the color to reflect a sharp or flat tone, respectively.  Equal temperament as the standard principle rather than the Pythagorean system, which—as can be seen below—have a slightly flat 3rd and 7th to modern ears. The precise mathematical system is more reliable as a foundation, and is the one used now in all Western music.

Sabaneyev first published a table of Alexander Scriabin's "color-sound" correspondences as far back as 1911.


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