Visual Elements in Music

The idea of a synthesis of the arts, a marriage between painting and music, color and sound, and with it the idea of a fusion of the different senses has found musical expression in various attempts to render the visible to a certain extent audible, or to enrich the audible with visual elements. Compositions created with that intent often are inspired by pictorial artworks, by color, light, or other visual impressions. Or possibly their creators were guided by synesthetical dispositions.

While first pieces of music inspired by paintings can be dated back to the 19th century, for example to Franz Liszt, color and light gained in importance at the beginning of the 20th century, when Alexander Scriabin experimented with color-light projections in his Prométhée.

The composer Olivier Messiaen was mainly concerned with color music in a spiritual sense. These instances represent more numerous forms of an audio-visual music, the possibilities of which are constantly redefined.