Many composers have experienced music as colour as well as sound like Messiaen. Their musical performances were displays of visual art to stir their creative imagination. A new study has confirmed a link between emotion, music & colour. We consistently associate bright colours with upbeat music, darker colours with more sombre pieces.
Mozart’s lively Flute Concerto No. 1 is associated with bright yellow & orange whereas his Requiem is linked to bluish grey. Beethoven described the key of B minor as a ‘black’ key, Scriabin linked E flat major with a purple-red colour, Rimsky-Korsakov described D major as golden brown. Sibelius claimed he heard sounds in his mind when he sensed colours, scents. Messiaen described his sensory skill, “I see colours when I hear sounds, but I don’t see colours with my eyes. I see colours intellectually in my head.” Ligeti saw major chords as red or pink, minor chords as green or brown. Liszt, “a little bluer please, this tone type requires it!”. The raw emotion behind the music was often responsible for the colour association.