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Music Theory Perception
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Harmonic Color Model

By Richard Merrick

Harmonic Visualization Models

Harmonic Interference Theory provides a foundation for the construction of geometric models for the representation of music. Such models are helpful in cross-reference musical concepts with phenomena elsewhere in nature, explaining otherwise difficult concepts using musical terminology.

The first thing to do in building a visual model for music is the creation of a color model compatible with harmonic physics. This is done by recognizing that the frequency range of human vision is itself a frequency-doubled octave beginning with dark magenta at 370 terahertz and increasing in frequency up to dark violet at 740 terahertz.

Music Theory Color Wheel

Within this color octave, at 12-step logarithmic scale can be calculated by multiplying each successive step by 21/2 just like an equal tempered musical scale. This yields the standard color wheel – all that remains is to determine its Harmonic Center.

This can be done using the same method described for finding the Harmonic Center of a musical octave. We need only balance the 7 colors of the rainbow around the only symmetrical center possible in the color wheel – namely, the dark blue color known as Indigo. In this way, Indigo and Yellow-Orange form a polar Harmonic Axis of symmetry in the color wheel, enabling the relative assignment of each tone in a musical octave to be assigned a color starting with the Harmonic Center of the key. This should not be taken as an absolute assignment to specific tones, but instead as a color mapping that is moveable and applied to any diatonic key.

The symmetry of this color-tone mapping becomes apparent when the 12-step color wheel is divided into two rings of six each and aligned with a piano keyboard relative to the key of C major (or A relative minor) having Harmonic Center D.

Music Theory Rainbow

This creates what we might call a diatonic rainbow where Primary, Secondary and Tertiary colors balance perfectly around the Harmonic Axis {D, G#) in the key of C.

Content courtesy of Richard Merrick
Copyright (c) 2011. All Rights Reserved.

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