HarmoniHue is a system for relating musical pitch to visual phenomenen (especially colour). The aim is to find a correspondence between these different concepts that will function intuitively, especially in conveying the harmonic relationships between different pitches.

Goal: Visualizing Notes with Color

Is it possible to map the set of pitch-frequencies in the Western 12-tone scale onto a set of colours, in such a way that:


My daughter has a little keyboard - you blow into it, and press down the notes, and depending on whether a note is depressed or not, the sound is directed to an output pipe of the appropriate pitch. The keyboard follows the normal piano keyboard layout, except that the keys that are normally "white" are coloured. All the keys are also numbered, but the "black" keys remain black. There's a book that accompanies it with music for some simple songs - written in the normal musical script, but the note heads are coloured to correspond to the colours on the keyboard.

This struck me as being inadequate and non-optimal, since there seemed to be no real rationale between the colours chosen - and of course the distinction between "black" and "white" keys seemed arbritrary.

At the same time I was talking to a friend who was doing a simple spectogram visualisation of sound, and thinking that it would be great if you could see the harmonic relationship between different frequencies - perhaps a spiral arrangement where each successive octave was at the same angle from the center would mean that musically equivalent intervals would have a direct geometric counterpart.

These ideas led naturally to the investigation and results below.


© David Fraser 2013