# Which Colors Correspond With Which Notes???

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Markamb1, Dec 29, 2018.

1. ### ev rodriguez

Jan 18, 2010

Everyone that has studied music theory knows that E# is shrimp, snd B# is avocado.

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2. ### Markamb1

Oct 24, 2018
At first I thought this was just stupid.... but I actually love E# and B# jokes

3. ### Russell L

Mar 5, 2011
Cayce, SC
A = red
B = black
C = white
D = yellow/tan
E = green/black
F = reddish brown
G = dark brown

Somehow I am blue color-blind in me notes.

4. ### ixlramp

Jan 25, 2005
UK
I'm a qualified physicist and there's a scientific way to approach this, which i did years ago.
Each colour in the visible spectrum of light has a (very high) frequency. If you could hear such high frequencies what notes would they be?
Or rather, we can think of seeing colour as 'seeing pitches', because sound and light are both waves with frequencies.

This works because of 'octave equivalence': you can double a frequency as many times as you like and it will still be the same note, just a number of octaves higher.
Usefully, the visible spectrum light just happens to cover just under an octave of frequency, so a 1 to 1 correspondance of note to colour is possible.
One note corresponds to infra red / ultra violet so could possibly be considered black, or maybe very dark red or very dark violet.

First find a large accurate colour chart that shows the visible spectrum of light alongside frequency (or wavelength) numbers.
Take the frequency of a note based on A4 = 440Hz, and double the frequency until it falls in the frequency range of the visible spectrum of light, it's something like 40 octaves up from octave 4 or something, once you know you can just mulitply frequency by 2^40 or whatever.

If only wavelengths are on the chart you can convert between frequency and wavelength using:
w = c / f
f = c / w
c = 299792458, speed of light in metres per second.
w = wavelength in metres. A nanometre (nm) is 1x10^-9 metres, you will need a scientific calculator with an 'exponent' function.
f = frequency in Hertz.

Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
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5. ### ixlramp

Jan 25, 2005
UK
Best chart i know of is here Skywise's Lasers & Optics Reference Area

Titled 'Visible Laser Spectrum Chart'. Download the high quality TIFF and TGA images.

The scientific approach is the only non-arbitrary and non-subjective approach to this.
Of course, the results are that the 12 tones of 12 tone equal temperament A4 = 440Hz do not nicely map to the primary colours, many are inbetween colours.

This page has the right idea A mapping between musical notes and colors – nothing to see here

Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
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6. ### EkulatiSupporting Member

Jan 2, 2016
Richmond, VA
Good to have a scientist chime in here. My question, which I haven't seen addressed (although I skipped many posts) is, for those who explain the phenomenon by assigning specific colors to specific musical notes, and maintain they are the same for all who have the condition/blessing, were the color/pitch assignments the same say, pre-1930 or so when (Western) pitch was standardized to our beloved A-440? I'm fine with the phenomenon itself, just not fine with saying "this note equals that color, for all people. As it was in the beginning, is now..."

7. ### ixlramp

Jan 25, 2005
UK
I agree. If this is discussed in terms of synaesthesia, it will obviously vary per-person.

Sep 23, 2015
Pennsylvania
To figure out what color a note would be associated with, if looking at the octave in the visible spectrum, is pretty straightforward, given the charts @Killed_by_Death provided.

Take the low A string on the bass as an example, sometimes referred to as A1. Its frequency is 55Hz. A2, an octave up, is 110Hz. Keep doubling until you get up to the octave in the visible spectrum. In this case, that’s A43, which has a frequency of ~483.8THz, which is orange.

A#1 is 58.27Hz. A#43 is about 512THz, which is just barely into yellow territory.

Similarly, C2, the lowest C on a standard-tuned 4-string bass, has a frequency of 65.41Hz. C43 is ~575THz, which is in the green range.

E1 has a frequency of 41.2Hz. E43 is infrared, not visible. But E44 is about 725THz, which is in violet territory.

Just multiply the note frequency by 2-to-the-power-needed to get into the visible spectrum. I have a spreadsheet with this information at home, but I’m away for a bit. But you get the idea

EDIT: sorry, typing this on my phone did not notice this was a revived zombie thread and that there were already 13 pages of responses - apologies for any duplication!

Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
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9. ### EkulatiSupporting Member

Jan 2, 2016
Richmond, VA
So what you're saying then, is that the frequency/musical note/color relationships are the same for every human on the planet, and have been so since the dawn of time? Despite the fact that all the example frequencies you quote above have only been standardized since, c. 1930 or so.

May 14, 2019
Everett, WA

Grapheme-color synesthesia - Wikipedia

11. ### Doc Blue

Mar 29, 2019
50 miles north of LA
Consider the frequency range of the visible spectrum, 430 THz - 750 THz, vs sound, 20 Hz - 20 kHz (if your hearing is still good). Color has less than a 2:1 range. Sound has a 1000:1 range. Generate whatever transfer function you like to make an equation fit the independent and dependent variables. Given the significant difference in range and how one decides on a relationship between them I say it's is arbitrary, and pick whatever fits your taste.

I think of sound in terms of color, but not the notes over a single octave. Its more in line with the range of an instrument - low notes are the blue-violet end of the spectrum, high notes are the orange-red. Sound can also have flavor and texture. It's multi-dimensional to human thought. There are a number of ways to describe sound. Color is but one.

Sep 23, 2015
Pennsylvania
Not at all. Merely describing a simple relationship between frequencies in the auditory spectrum and the higher-order octaves of those frequencies in the visible spectrum.

Not trying to say that E1 is “violet,” or that people should “see” it that way. Merely saying that E44 produces vibration in the range of the visible spectrum that today we call violet. Nothing implied about what anyone might see or hear when E1 is played.

13. ### Mildew Jones

Dec 18, 2014
I recall reading in Musician magazine and interview Robert Fripp did of John McLaughlin. They were discussing the "colors" of certain notes. I don't associate notes with colors, Heck, i don't associate keys with certain feels or emotions. I don't get it when people say " the key of _ sounds so sad/happy/etc to me" (insert Spinal Tap quote). It's a pitch indicator, the intervals between the notes are making the feeling/emotion. I've been playing cover songs in various keys to fit singers for a while, the song content is the same, just pitched up or down.
My .02 cents...hallucination-wise, all I ever saw was breathing walls and extremely vivid color, no synesthesia or things that weren't there.
MJ

14. ### micguy

May 17, 2011
Another Physicist chiming in here. Given the wide range of wavelengths in the audible range (many octaves), and the interesting octave thing, where frequencies in a ration of 2:1 (or powers of 2) sound the "same" the equivalence to colors isn't something that's going to come easily. You could simply equate wavelengths of sound to the same wavelength of an electromagnetic wave, but the wavelengths we see are all vastly shorter than those what we hear.

if you do this, the microwaves (microwaves are light with vastly longer wavelengths than what you see) that you use to heat your leftovers correspond to F7 - about 2.75 kHz (the highest F on the piano) when that wavelength is a sound wave instead of electromagnetic. The lowest notes on a bass guitar are about the same wavelengths as the RF (RF is light of even longer wavelength) used in transmitting low band VHF TV channels (channels 2 through 6).

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15. ### TolerancEJ

May 27, 2010
I follow a philosophy of playing whatever the song needs.

16. ### ixlramp

Jan 25, 2005
UK
Xad is stating the exact same scientific correspondance as i did. Because it's scientific and based in the laws of nature, it will be the same for all time and anywhere in the universe. However this has nothing to do with synaesthesia and what correspondances individuals might experience or prefer.

Differing tonal systems have differing frequencies, which will then map to different colours. So of course, modern A4 440Hz will not be the same colour as A4 432Hz, and notes in Just Intonation scales, microtonal scales or Indian classical music scales will map to different colours too.
I know what you mean and you're correct if you consider a correspondance of audible pitches to visible colours.
However i'm detailing a correspondance of 'tones within 1 octave' to visible colours, which is all you can do because the visible spectrum of light only covers 1 octave. Usefully, auditory 'octave equivalence' solves the problem and the 'tone to colour' correspondance is therefore valid.

17. ### micguy

May 17, 2011
Yeah, I understand that. I just thought it’d be fun to talk about the implications of very different wavelengths.

18. ### ixlramp

Jan 25, 2005
UK
My result based on the chart linked:

A little more an octave to provide enough information to choose well, where there is a choice of colours.
On the left: F, F#, G, G# all have Hue 0: same colour, different darknesses.
On the right: F, F# have Hues 295 and 300: roughly the same colour, different darknesses.

My list of colour names from F to F#:

Very dark red
Dark red
Deep red
Red
Orange
Yellow
Lime green
Green
Turquoise
Greenish blue
Blue
Bluish violet
Violet
Dark violet

My working document with details:
RGB components are 0-255.
'H' means 'Hue' in the HSV colour system, values 0-360.

////////////////////////

nm nanometre 1 x 10^-9
THz terahertz 1 x 10^12

f * w = c
f = 299792458 / w
w = 299792458 / f

Chart extremes:
Ultra violet 350nm 8.5654988 x 10^14Hz 857THz
Infra red 800nm 3.747405725 x 10^14Hz 375THz

Octave 4:

493.88 4 B
466.16 4 A# Bb
440.00 4 A
415.30 4 G# Ab
392.00 4 G
369.99 4 F# Gb
349.23 4 F
329.63 4 E
311.13 4 D# Eb
293.66 4 D
277.18 4 C# Db
261.63 4 C

Up 40 or 41 octaves:

F44
3.8398 E 14 Hz
780.75 E -9 m
RGB 22 0 0 very dark red
H 0

F#44
4.0681 E 14 Hz
736.94 E -9 m
RGB 72 0 0 dark red
H 0

G44
4.310085581 E 14 Hz
695.5603372 E -9 m
RGB 124 0 0 deep red
H 0

G#44
4.5663 E 14 Hz
656.54 E -9 m
RGB 175 0 0 red
H 0

A44
4.837851162 x 10^14 Hz
619.6810277 x 10^-9 m
RGB 196 85 0 orange
Hue 26

A#44
5.1255 E 14 Hz
584.91 E -9 m
RGB 203 203 0 yellow
H 60

B44
5.4303 E 14 Hz
552.08 E -9 m
RGB 106 251 0 lime green
H 95

C45
5.7533 E 14 Hz
521.08 E -9 m
RGB 0 200 15 green
H 125

C#45
6.0953 E 14 Hz
491.85 E -9 m
RGB 0 173 133 turquoise
H 166

D45
6.4577 E 14 Hz
464.24 E -9 m
RGB 0 87 147 greenish blue
H 204

D#45
6.8418 E 14 Hz
438.18 E -9 m
RGB 8 0 120 blue
H 244

E45
7.2486 E 14 Hz
413.58 E -9 m
RGB 57 0 81 blueish violet
H 282

F45
7.6796 E 14 Hz
390.37 E -9 m
RGB 55 8 59 violet
H 295

F#45
8.1362 E 14 Hz
368.47 E -9 m
RGB 33 8 33 dark violet
H 300

Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
19. ### Markamb1

Oct 24, 2018
I haven’t been here for a very long time...I ignore the notifications but a message prompted me back.

Scientifically wonderful. All of you. Thank you. For practical purposes, a logical extreme became the goal. As I had to explain to the haters I did not seek to unlock the secrets of the universe nor the power of the brown note.

I believe I settled on B is blue for a very basic Center. Easy to work up and down from there early on when learning the system. Leaving the lowest note on a standard 5 string as blue.

E red
F orange
F# light orange
G yellow
G# light yellow
A green
A# light green
B blue
C Indigo/purple
C# light indigo/purple
D violet
D# light violet

E Back to a lighter shade of red than where I started an octave below...

I went even further beyond if anyone actually read the page before this. As a starting point this makes the most sense and is still loosely based on the science but for the reasons stated throughout this thread, multiple shades of the same color representing different notes isn’t helpful....so we had to stray from the science to make this actually useful.

Last edited: Jun 26, 2019