Music, Colour & Emotions

In my installation project I would like to consider peoples mood and make the installation react to this, done through a variation of music and colour. Listening to music with coloured illumination/visuals can provide a deeper appreciation of the music than listening alone. This could suggest there is a link between a particular music genre and visuals elements including colour. I want to consider colour as this could be a variable in processing that could easily be manipulated and if its connection to a genre is what I perceive, the music visualizer could display variations of colour to occur depending on audience’s mood.

Music and genres of it can provoke different moods in different kinds of listeners. A study by the Department of Computer Software Engineering, Kumoh National Institute of Technology, Korea who analysed the relationship between colour and music according to the musical preference of the listener. This would allow them to gain a better understanding of what colour are most associated to a genres. A range of listeners who had different music preferences ensured that this was more divers to have a greater overall summary for listeners ensuring it was fair and more true for a larger population.

The study unfortunately found that a persons connection between a certain genre of music and a colour is more personal and linked to there own relationship to that genre. However, from this they concluded, “the distributions of arousal and valence are also affected by combinations of the preferred genre and the music genre.” This suggested that it was audience were not connecting a colour to the music but an emotion instead. This would make more sense as people could have varied emotions to there own particular taste of music.

There has been several other report and academia written to support this view with the general consensus that listeners report that they experience emotions while listening to music and has been tested in experiments, questionnaires, diary studies, and qualitative interviews. Juslin P and Västfjäll refer to the work of Behne 1997; Juslin & Laukka 2004; Sloboda & O’Neill 2001; Zillman & Gan 1997 form which they concluded

“People could use music to change emotions, to release emotions, to match their current emotion, to enjoy or comfort themselves, and to relieve stress.”

They refer to this as “Subjective Feeling” which connects back to the earlier study by Kumoh Institute of Technology who alike suggest that music can change and manipulate a person’s emotion. This manipulation can be enhanced through visual elements adding to the emotive power of the music. From this research on how music affects audiences I have found and outlined how

  • Audiences have a variation of music tastes which do not necessarily link to same specific emotions.
  • Emotions and moods can be manipulated by music but the emotive values to the person themselves determine the scale of the manipulation that’s achieved.
  • Visual elements can have an effectiveness of the manipulative power of the music on emotions.

In temrs of the mu

Juslin, P. and Västfjäll, D. (2008). Emotional responses to music: The need to consider underlying mechanisms. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 31(05).

Moon, C., Kim, H., Lee, H. and Kim, B. (2013). Analysis of relationships between mood and color for different musical preferences. Color Research & Application, 39(4).

Shank, Jennifer Sue, “THE EFFECT OF VISUAL ART ON MUSIC LISTENING” (2003). University of Kentucky Doctoral Dissertations. Paper 397.


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