Music In Color

In September, I published an article discussing John Coltrane’s illustration of the perfect geometry described by connecting significant harmonic intervals within a scale. Recently, I came across a journal of mine from 2015, and quite a pleasing synchronicity was revealed: as I swept through the pages, I halted at the sight of this radiant illustration (above) — yes! another psychadelic visualization of the mind-expanding, spirit-rousing, high-inducing Math in Music!

Around the time I created these images, I had been practicing variations of major (Ionian) and minor (Aeolian) modal scales on my guitar, just really getting my fingers fluid and confident through the muscle memorization of these scales across the entire neck. I remember practicing for so long one day that clear patterns began to emerge in my inner vision. I wanted to see what it looked like if I graphed the scales on paper and highlighted the unique patterns of inter-tonal relationships that I was sensing. When my visions were finally manifested in ink, I allowed my eyes to soften and gaze at the landscape of patterns that had been revealed — it was breathtaking, just so beautiful, in the indubitable perfection of itself. I had never studied much music theory, so this was one of the first moments I ever saw a significant visual depiction of the complex intrinsic connections between harmonic intervals within a scale. It was so sexy to me.

On Monday, when I suddenly reunited with this illustration, it was exciting to see that I too had channelled a vision of perfect Math in Music, as Coltrane had. In fact, anyone who has studied music theory has surely witnessed endless shapes and patterns that intertwine into gorgeous latticeworks of stable tonal bonds — within and between various scales, and also across the physical structure of the various instruments upon which they are played.

The diversity of moods, methods, and styles of human musical expression across cultures and time periods on this planet is extraordinary — however all music is fundamentally connected by the immortal roots of the perfect repetitive geometry described by pitch-relationships, certainly as well as the many rhythms which unite all pulsing humanity via heartbeat resonance.

As Willie Nelson said, “It’s all one song.”

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(You know what, I would love to see a collection of these colorful graphs applied to found patterns within each major mode played on the guitar — (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian)***. The result would surely be gorgeous and hypnotizing. Hmmm perhaps I shall add that to my vault of dope personal project ideas.)

***Click here for more information on modes and modal theory