In this video, you can learn about the process used to analyse colour pigments in paintings, and why this is important...
Illustrations by Caroline Bouvier
Mapping sound tones
In the video above, you learnt that the light waves detected in a pigments provide analysts with a unique 'fingerprint' of the colour pigment. But how was music driven by this data?
Composer Ricky Chaggar set himself the challenge of composing music that uses this data closely, resulting in music which is unique to each colour pigment. The data from the colour pigment was provided by Art Chemical Analyst Caroline Bouvier.
Although both light and sound are measured in Hertz (Hz) they are vastly different in range. Light frequencies waves are so high that they exist far beyond the limits of human hearing. To convert the light peak Hz data into a range within human hearing, it is necessary to make these raw peak frequencies smaller (reduce them). Therefore, Chaggar divided each raw peak Hz value by the fixed value of 100,000,000,000 (one hundred billion)! This enabled him to have find the closest sound tone mapped to every peak frequency, in a consistent manner. These sound tones are turned into musical notes by Chaggar, through using them to compose melodies.
He allowed himself to only use the musical notes corresponding to the light wave peaks. Furthermore, although the exact order of the peaks within a pigment's fingerprint are not important and it is the collection of peak frequencies per colour which matter, he nevertheless gave himself the added challenge of using the notes in the same order that the chemical analyst computer systems generated. This added to his sense of closeness to the data as a guiding stimulus. From these unique sets of colour pigment data, a unique set of melodies were created which subsequently directed other musical elements such as harmony and rhythm. The result is complete musical works, unique to the colour pigments Red, White and Blue used by Renoir in his painting Portrait of Alphonsine Fournaise, painted in1879.