Fur Elise

After considering the idea of presenting colour via pieces of music, I decided to test this out with one of my favourite pieces of music: Fur Elise.

I assigned each note a colour from the spectrum (12 notes = 12 colours on the colour wheel) and each octave became lighter if it was higher or darker if it was lower. I then mapped each of these colours to the notes.

This is the result.

Fur Elise sm

I have to say, I am rather disappointed by the result. Something I had failed to appreciate, and indeed anticipate, was the repetitive nature of melody. What makes something memorable is the repetitive nature of parts of the melody – a hook if you like. And this melody rarely moves out of 3 octaves – so the colour range is also limited to a quite vibrant palette. I wanted to use the spectrum to take away my own ability to ‘affect’ the outcome by assigning specific colours to the notes. But, actually, by assigning ANY colours to the notes would make the outcome repetitive because of the very nature of music and the mapping method used.

I think if I were to continue with this area of investigation I would need to reconsider the assignation of colours – perhaps I would need to restrict the palette to make it more interesting – but I am not sure how. At present I will continue with my journeys and with remembered colours.

I have noticed – while looking at my finished panels – that the colours mapped from my memory are far more vibrant and interesting than those taken from photographs. The photographs are much more muted – there are far more neutrals (even in the ‘highlight/interest’ colours) than there are in memory – where the colours are very vibrant and far less ‘natural’. It is interesting how remembered colours really are ‘removed’ from an object and are almost a ‘created’ colour such as one would see in plastic or in print – rather than the colours one sees in nature from the photographs. Interesting to ponder.


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