For centuries, even before Isaac Newton split light using a prism in 1666, artists and musicians have been fascinated by the relationship (or the lack of it) between music and the visual arts.

Modern computer technology not only provides the facility to explore this relationship simply and rapidly (Kandinsky, who for many years was totally captivated by the atonal music of Schoenberg, would no doubt have given all his eye teeth to have access to these techniques) but the results can now be made widely available via the web

These web pages are a somewhat superficial exploration into this fun area, but the results are quite pleasing. The stripe squares displayed in the previous page have each been generated using a random number generation technique. Their associated music has then been derived in such a way that the sequence and duration of the chords that you hear, are related directly to the colours and widths, respectively, of each stripe. You can thus follow the music by reading the stripes from left to right.

First the number of stripes and their relative widths are determined and the widths are then factored to attain the desired overall width. Their colours are then also generated randomly.

Colours on the computer screen are defined by their Red, Green and Blue components, expressed in terms of the RGB Nos (in the range 0-255). The 6 primary colours are thus denoted by Red (255,0,0) Green (0,255,0) Blue (0,0,255) Yellow (255,255,0) Cyan (0,255,255) and Magenta (255,0,255)

The sounds are determined by mapping the RGB Nos onto the synthesizer keyboard. With the Javasound synthesizer, which has been used here, the keys are defined by numbers in the range 24 - 96 covering the 6 octaves of 12 semitones on the piano.

The result is a progression of 3-note chords (triads) of duration in proportion to the width of the corresponding stripe. The timescale is set to give a total duration of 15 seconds for each stripe square

In its simplest form this algorithm produces a series of atonal triads drawn from the full range of the 7 white keys and 5 black keys. The western musical ear however is tuned to tonal music. On many of the tracks a key has therefore been defined (again randomly) for the first chord and the series of triad chords have then been forced into that key by rounding off to the nearest valid note. The result is a tune made up of major or minor chords in that key

One of the benefits of this tonal mapping is that it provides an opportunity to modulate between different keys, thereby introducing an element of variation

Music for 10 stripe squares has been generated and translated into MIDI sound files embedded within the web page. (the choice of instrument is personal and arbitrary) The key progressions for each are shown in the table below. You can move direct to any page by clicking on the thumbnails in the table

Atonal Atonal Bb Minor C# Major
C Major A Minor F Major G Major C Major
C Major G Major E Minor G Major
C Major A Minor E Minor G Major
C Major G Major E Minor G Major
Atonal Atonal
G# Major Ab Minor A Major D Major G Major A Major
C Major A Minor F Major G Major C Major
C Major G Major E Minor G Major
C Major G Major E Minor G Major D Major