Page 10, 3rd December 1937

3rd December 1937
Page 10
Page 10, 3rd December 1937 — WHAT THE EAR CANNOT SEE

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Colour Controversy Ended

By ERNEST MOSS Readers are probably getting tired of this music and colour business; and since although I have been condensed, I fear to the point of unintelligibility, I still look like going on for ever. Here is a list of things I should have tried to demonstrate.

(I) That psychological investigation shows that associations between colours or colour groups, and sounds or sound groups (like keys, for example) are personal and accidental not universal and necessary. So that all experiments like Scriabin's which try to relate music and colour are bound to be a sort of surrealism—i.e. exploitation of personal psychology which to be understood by anybody else needs a book of words of explanation.

(2) That the marvellous orderliness which ravishes the ear in good music cannot be conveyed by the eye through colour sensation. So that to look to "mobile colour " as a substitute for music with the advantage of silence is to look for pigs with wings.

Eyes Are Blind Here

The reason Tor this is (a) as we have seen, the eye cannot separate the components of colour mixtures.

(b) Therefore it cannot be delighted like the ear by the dove-tailing of separate sensations produced by simply related physical vibrations (the pleasure of concord).

(c) It cannot even get this pleasure in a successive way, as is possible in music (e.g. in arpeggios), by viewing one after the other colours of which the physical vibrations are simply related. We can calculate, for instance, vibration-rate ratios in light corresponding to those of concords in music but they can't be recognised by the eye.

(d) A sensitive response, in any case, to physical orderliness in colour is out of question for equal changes of frequency through the spectrum are not accompanied by equal changes of hue for the eye.

(e) Adjacent colours are a delight to the eye, adjacent sounds are an abomination to the ear except for those who enjoy the wobble they produce in cinema organs and piano accordions.

(f) The entire visible spectrum doesn't correspond even to one octave of music.

Let's hope that'll damp the ardour of the silent music enthusiasts.

London Symphony

The London Symphony Orchestra, with Elman as soloist, gave excellent performances of Beethoven's violin concerto and Brehm' third symphony last week. I particularly enjoyed Elman's cadenzas.

I also heard the Kutcher string quartet which is not one of those cloyingly sweet ones, and gave us some sinewy staccato in the middle movement of Dohnsinyi's D flat quartet.

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