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Themesicon: navigation pathSound and Imageicon: navigation pathAudiovisions
Promethée. Le Poème du feu (Skrjabin, Alexander), 1916

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Synaesthesia, Analogy

The Pythagoreans sought correspondences between colors/light and sound. They connected their concept of the harmony of the spheres, which arises out of the harmonious relations between planetary movements, with the colors of light. At the same time, the tertium comparationis, the mediating value between color and pitch, was purely speculative. Leonhard Euler's theory on the oscillation of light, published in 1746, as well as Goethe's theory of colors restimulated the search for scientifically-sound, uniform concepts of light and sound and thus for the specific assignment of individual colors to particular pitches. Various mystical and esoteric conceptions of the world played a role in this quest for a common source and for the fusion of visual and acoustic aesthetics.

Even in the twentieth century, attempts were made to integrate colors and light into complex systems either of a cosmic nature or related to the language of music. Based on his own experiences as a synaesthetician, [12] in 1911 the Russian composer Alexander Skrjabin (1872–1915) who sympathized with the symbolists and theosophical


thought—introduced a color classification system that he regarded as the «reunion of the arts separated over the course of time.» «By overcoming all differences, the synthetic Gesamtkunstwerk is meant to immensely expand consciousness and lead to a state of ecstasy. It shall therefore be structured in such a way that all of the five senses fuse together to become a union. Arts dependent on ‹will› (music, dance, language), however, are superior to the play of color and scents.» [13] The background for the audiovisual references is an integral system of analogy rooted in the subconscious that influences the form and structure of music and its enmeshment with symbolic contents and colors/scents.

Skrjabin wrote a light staff, ‹Luce,› at the top of his symphonic poem «Promethée. Le Poème du feu,» op. 60, from 1911. However, he did not construct a one-to-one translation of the music into colored light. The part for color piano develops its own formal structure, which is only brought together with the music at several junctions. This light version of Prometheus was not performed during Skrjabin's lifetime; however, it was important for the discourse

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