Posts Tagged ‘synaesthesia’
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Scriabin, who died 100 years ago this year, was the first composer to associate colours with music; he believed that there is an aesthetic connection between musical harmony and shades of colour. The Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky was inspired by Scriabin, amoung others including Wagner. Kandinsky wanted to create what Scriabin had for music, but for colours and feelings. Kandinsky, had his own colour theory to match colours with musical tones or instruments.

Composition VII by Wassily Kandinsky (1913)

Composition VII by Wassily Kandinsky (1913)

There is a possibility that Scriabin had Synaesthesia, a condition where a sensation in one of the senses, such as hearing, triggers a sensation in another, such as sight. In Scriabin, music triggered a vision of certain colours in a ‘union of his senses’. Each note corresponded to a specific colour: C-red, G-orange, D-yellow, A-green, E-sky blue, B-blue, F#-bright blue, C#-violet, G#-lilac, D#-flesh, A#-rose, F-deep red. However, some composers such as Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, disagreed with Scriabin about which keys related to which colours. It is believed that Messiaen and Liszt were also synaesthete, although the condition isn’t common even in people with perfect pitch. 

A piano illustrating which colour corresponds to which key

A piano illustrating which colour (according to Scriabin) corresponds to which key

Scriabin was also deeply philosophical and mystical; he had visions of other worlds and he wished to transport his audiences to other realms through his music. He had planned a great piece, the Mysterium, which would be performed in a half temple in India. The spectacle would include a light show engulfing performers and audience members, who would sit across a pool of water. Incense and acrid smoke would be blown across the scene, costumed speakers reciting texts would parade with the dancers and Scriabin would sit at the piano surrounded by the orchestra. Scriabin died before the composition was complete, this dream was never realised.  He once boasted that only his music could express the inexpressible.

A few years before his death, Scriabin produced a colour keyboard with colour lamps, known as  a clavier à lumières. In the score for Prometheus: The Poem of Fire (1910), Scriabin described how his clavier à lumières should accompany the orchestra. The colour organ was to be played like a piano but instead of emitting sound, it projected coloured light onto a screen. The only performance using the color organ as Scriabin had envisioned, was in New York in 1915. This was the year that Scriabin died, of an untreated infection under his famed moustache. It seems that Scriabin had vast sources of inspiration and had he lived longer perhaps more of his dramatic, other- worldly dreams would have been realised. 

Scriabin performing in St. Petersburg in April 1915 (his last recital)

Scriabin performing in St. Petersburg in April 1915 (his last recital)

(Written on November 17, 2015 )

Classical Music Magazine

Ulster Orchestra appoints Rafael Payare as next chief conductor

Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare has been announced as the next chief conductor of the Ulster Orchestra. He will take over from JoAnn Falletta from the 2014-15 season, initially on a three-year contract.

Commons committee to investigate ACE’s remit, funding criteria and regional balance

The Culture, Media and Sport select committee of the House of Commons is to conduct an inquiry into the work of Arts Council England. The inquiry will look over the organisation’s scale, scope and remit, as well as the current weighting of its funding towards arts organisations in London.

Guardian

Scented scarves, scampering fingers and ice: concerts the immersive way

What does Debussy smell like? BitterSuite is an immersive concert project inspired by synaesthesia.

Telegraph

Master of the Queen’s Music – who next for a royal appointment?

As Peter Maxwell Davies prepares to step down as Master of the Queen’s Music, John Allison weighs up the various contenders to replace him.

CBC News

Violinist Yosuke Kawasaki fights $120K fine for antique violin

One of Canada’s most prestigious violinists is battling the Canada Border Services Agency in Federal Court after he was fined $120,000 for failing to declare nearly half a million dollars in musical instruments.

 South China Morning Post

US conductor Leonard Slatkin says future of orchestras is secure

He’s optimistic about the role of orchestras in our society, positive about young players and doesn’t worry about the classics disappearing. As long as society exists, there will be orchestras to reflect it, he says.

Die Zeit

“Für Machos ist Mariachi wichtiger als Mozart”

Auf seinem neuen Album singt der Tenor Rolando Villazón selten gehörte Arien von Mozart. Mit der “Welt” spricht er darüber, warum es zarte Wiener Klassik in der Latinogesellschaft so schwer hat.

Guardian

Guardian

 

(Written on January 14, 2014 )