'Clavier à Lumières' (keyboard of lights) explores the symbiotic relationship between light and sound, color and tone. The study of this relationship is one that travels as far back as Sir Isaac Newton in the early 18th century with his Colour Wheel, to visual artists such as Vincent Van Gogh who would take piano lessons in order to better understand the nature of color. Composers such as Alexander Scriabin were also famously interested in the synesthetic bond between colors and musical notes and invented the original ‘clavier à lumières’ in 1910 for his orchestral work Prometheus: The Poem of Fire. His remarkable instrument was an organ that would be played like a normal keyboard, but instead of producing sound, would project colored light onto a screen.
'Clavier à Lumières 2012' looks to further delve into and string connections between two of our most vital senses. By stripping away the noise of everyday life and the sensory overload of digital and social media, this work is meant to allow the viewer to revert back to their most fundamental modes of sensation and to pique their curiosity in pure color and sound. This piece also aims to reveal the emotive qualities of sound and light and will allow each audience member to create his or her own personal experience.
In this piece, the twelve notes of the chromatic scale are associated with a color from the visible spectrum of light based on Newton’s Colour Wheel. In his wheel, Newton begins with the note D representing the color Red and continues all the way to Violet, which is represented by the note C. Going further, colors on the low end of the visible spectrum such as Reds and Ambers, which have longer wavelengths, are represented by sounds of a lower pitch. These relationships build the foundation of this work.
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