Quantz Tuner is a suite of real-time, interactive, data-driven music visualization tools that respond to sound. Through their unique visualizations, these tools function similar to biofeedback systems and allow for intuitive understanding and quick correction of common pitch and vibrato issues. The Quantz Tuner app allows users to see their sound in a real-time format.
Quantz Tuner uses the color wheel and circle of fifths relationship to assign the pitches a specific color. This particular association has been around for a long time, Alexander Scriabin being one of the first to explore it over 100 years ago. The functional relationship between the two is as follows: The adjacent notes on the Circle of 5ths are the most similar in their respective keys, just as the adjacent colors are most similar. Likewise, the pitches opposite from each other on the circle are the most distant tonally, just as the colors across from each other are also opposites. This color/note assignment allows you to literally “see” tonal and key changes as they happen. Pitches outside the current key appear in the opposite palate and are easily seen. Additionally, the colors could be rotated around the circle and the relationships would still work. “C” does not need to be blue, it could easily be green or yellow as long as the color wheel order isn’t changed. We chose to use this method because we want Quantz Tuner to be as educational as possible and feel that allowing users to “see” tonality can only help in their learning to hear it.
There are many other ways to relate color and pitch. People who experience color/sound synesthesia have their own personal associations with few similarities between synesthetes. Recently, human cyborg Neil Harbisson used a very different color/pitch association and talks about it here in a fascinating TED talk. The first experiments with color and sound association were done back in the 1700’s with “light organs.” Many different color/note assignments have been used throughout history, some based more on tonality and chord quality rather than on specific notes. You can read more about the history of Color Music, also called Visual Music here.