Copyright ©2001-2017 Marshall Rendina. All rights reserved.

Color Harmony - Intervals

Using the color wheel with primary and secondary colors, 5 relationships exist with each color: 2 adjacent, 2 forming an equilateral triangle (the three primary or secondary colors), and 1 opposite.

For each note, 12 interval relationships exist in western harmony, reducing to 6 interval relationships considering inversions.

P1-P8 a perfect consonance
m2-M7 a dissonance
M2-m7 a dissonance
m3-M6 a consonance
M3-m6 a consonance
P4-P5 a perfect consonance
+4-°5 a dissonance

Thus,

Octaves and Unisons correspond to the same color, though tint or shade may be used for different registers.

Perfect fifths and fourths correspond to the colors forming an equilateral triangle being both either primary or secondary colors depending on whether the starting color is primary or secondary.

Consonances correspond to adjacent colors. The minor third and major sixth should be closer to the starting color, and the major third and minor sixth should be further from the starting color.

Dissonances correspond to opposite colors. The tritone should be directly opposite the starting color. The minor second and major seventh should be next to the directly opposite color, while the major second and minor seventh are closer to the colors forming an equilateral triangle.

The resulting circle of intervals should look like this, starting on C and progressing in either direction:

C-Eb-E-G-Bb-B-F#-C#-D-F-Ab-A-C

The color wheel may be rotated in either direction so that the starting color may correspond to any note or flipped.

Note that the distances between G and F opposite of C are shorter as they occupy one side of the equilateral triangle with five notes between them, and the distances between C and F and C and G are longer, as the five notes between G and F on the side passing through C occupies two sides of the equilateral triangle.

Below are two diagrams showing the order of intervals in just intonation as they relate to distance from the starting interval from consonant to dissonant based on the number of oscillations before the waves meet together exactly. Note that F# appears twice, as a diminished fifth and an augmented fourth. The second diagram has the notes from the outside raga (Phrygian) on the opposite side of the inside raga (Lydian).

The intervals may be applied to coloring melodies basing each subsequent interval off of the previous.

More on harmonic progression and other types of color-harmony has been included in the Visual Music notebook.