Rainbow Resonance

Sofia Paraskeva

Rainbow Resonance is a computer vision project that generates colors and musical compositions of the equivalent sound frequencies of the spectrum, according to the motion of the participator along the y-axis of his/her body.


Classes Frameworks for Interactive Sound,Live Image Processing and Performance

Rainbow resonance is a playful study of the human figure using computer vision to evoke colors and sounds mapped to the different organs of the body. The color scheme will be based on last semester's physical computing mid-term project inspired by the chakras. The colors will be mapped along the y-axis of a standing body, so that the base is red, the navel area becomes orange, the stomach changes to yellow, the heart area becomes green, the throat is blue, and the forehead is purple. Sound, will be mapped to corresponding color frequencies in the spectrum through multiplication. For example, red will resonate at 392 Hz, which is a G, orange will correspond to 440 Hz, which is A, yellow/green will be 494 Hz, which is a B, green/blue will be at 587 Hz, a D, blue/purple will be 659 Hz, E, and purple will be 698 Hz, F. A video camera will be used as a sensor to detect motion along the y-axis, and motion tracking will be used to map the vertical “zones” of the body. The vertical “zone” with the most vivid motion will determine the predominant color and sound reflected by the figure. Short sound compositions will accompany each color. Intervals largely neglected in western music, such as the septimal third, the minor tone and the tritone, will be used for these compositions.

The background for this project starts from an interest in mapping colors to sounds and vice versa to examine the different emotional, mental or spiritual states they might evoke. I have always wondered whether colors or sound frequencies actually depict and evoke specific emotions or thoughts. Meditation and the chakras seem an appropriate context for such experimentation, especially since they are each associated with specific colors as well as sounds. Briefly, there are seven chakras:
1. the kundalini or base chakra, located at the sacrum of the spine, and associated with survival and life energy, the color RED, the note C, and the element of earth.
2. the sacral or navel chakra associated with the sexual organs and sexuality, the color ORANGE, the note D, and the element of water.
3. the solar plexus located in the stomach area, and associated with personal power, confidence and will, the color YELLOW, the note E, and the element of fire.
4. the heart chakra associated with unconditional love, self love and relationships, the color GREEN, the note F and the element of air.
5. the throat chakra, associated with voice, expression and communication, the color BLUE, the note G, and the element of ether and sound.
6. the brow or third-eye, located at the pineal gland, associated with perception, intuition and visualization, the color INDIGO, the note A and the element of light.
7. the crown chakra, located at the top of the head, and associated with the cerebral cortex, awareness, consciousness, spirituality, the color VIOLET, the note B, and the element of thought.

The above information which I compiled from various sources, including Anodea Judith's book Eastern Body Western Mind by Anodea and the web site
http://www.crystalinks.com/chakras.html, is incomplete, inaccurate and controversial. The different sources state different facts about the organs associated with the chakras, the frequencies, the planets, and even the colors of the chakras.

Through this project I am attempting a more scientific approach with regard to colors and their associated sounds, as defined by the electromagnetic spectrum.

A summary of sound and color correlations is the following:
RED 384 - 482 Hz G - 392 Hz
ORANGE 482 - 503 Hz A - 440 Hz
YELLOW 503 - 520 Hz B - 494 Hz Earth's circumference - 479 Hz
GREEN 520 - 610 Hz C - 523 Hz Pythagorean middle C - 512 Hz
BLUE 610 - 659 Hz D - 587 Hz
INDIGO 659 - 769 Hz
VIOLET 665 Hz E - 659 Hz

While searching for alternative intonation systems, it makes sense to me to use the natural rhythms of nature as resonances. As mentioned in the web site for example, the circumference of planet Venus resonates at 442.38 Hz. I could use this frequency for mapping color orange instead of 440 Hz which is tone A, or 431 Hz which is the corresponding frequency of "pure" orange. It will be interesting to discover the intervals that will arise between the different frequency mappings of colors. Other possible frequency correlations I might use are the Pythagorean middle C of 512 Hz which is a multitude of 8, the Earth's harmonic circumference at 7.49 Hz (479 Hz), and Shumann Resonance at 7.83 (501 Hz). I had already been looking for a correlation between the Pythagorean middle C and the color spectrum and was surprised to see there is a relationship in the numbers.

During my Frameworks of sound class I started to explore intonation systems other than the equal tempered scale. Compositions based on mathematical relationships namely, music of the spheres, are more consonant than the equal tempered western scale ones. Also, there are large gaps between the semitones, which means that a great number of sounds from the spectrum of the auditory realm is left out. In this project I will make a first attempt at composing small musical compositions that use less common intervals based on the seven frequencies that correspond to the colors mapped on the screen.

The target audience is everyone who enjoys playing with colors and sounds.

User Scenario
A lingering sound invites the visitor to enter the space. Upon entering, the visitor faces a knee-high mirror image of him/herself projecting the colors of the rainbow, which are mapped to the figure in correspondence to the chakra points. The image is rather blurry resembling the human aura. Any movement of the visitor's hands along the vertical access produces sounds of different frequencies. As the visitor raises the hands higher, the frequencies become higher too. These frequencies are mapped to the colors, and each zone of color brightens up as the hands move in that region. The ultimate sounds, i.e., an all encompassing composition of the frequencies happens when the hands rise above the head. This movement of raising the hands up towards the sky is reminiscent of an exercise in chi kung, an ancient chinese method of healing and strengthening the body, mind and spirit, called "Carrying the Moon". "Carrying the Moon" is an exercise that focuses on enhancing youthfulness by keeping the spine young.

By trying to map colors to sounds I discovered that a scale sounding identical to the equal tempered western scale was possible to design matching the light frequencies in the spectrum. The resulting scale frequencies are all divisible by 8. Starting with the Pythagorean middle C at 512 Hz, I used the principle of the circle of fifths to multiply the starting frequency until I came up with a seven tone scale that describes the colors.

Equal Tempered
RED 384 Hz - 1:1
ORANGE 432 Hz - 9:8
YELLOW 480 Hz - 5:4
GREEN (LIME) 512 Hz - 4:3
BLUE (TURQUOISE) 576 Hz - 3:2
INDIGO 640 Hz - 5:3
VIOLET 720 Hz - 15:8
768 Hz - 2:1

RED 384 Hz - 1:1
ORANGE 432 Hz - 9:8
YELLOW 486 Hz - 81:64
GREEN (LIME) 512 Hz - 4:3(Pythagorean middle C)
BLUE (TURQUOISE) 576 Hz - 3:2
INDIGO 648 Hz - 27:16
VIOLET 729 Hz - 243:128
768 Hz - 2:1

Resulting Color scale (all frequencies divisible by 8)
RED 384 Hz - 1:1
ORANGE 432 Hz - 9:8 Major 2nd
YELLOW 480 Hz - 5:4 Major 3rd
GREEN (LIME) 512 Hz - 4:3 Perfect 4th
BLUE (TURQUOISE) 576 Hz - 3:2 Perfect 5th
INDIGO 648 Hz - 27:16 Major 6th
VIOLET 720 Hz - 15:8 Major 7th
768 Hz - 2:1 Octave