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Rather than focus on notes, it is possible to think in terms of the distances between notes.

    An idea conceived by Wilhelm Ostwald is less sensational but more soundly based.
    He does not start with the scale but with the intervals. To each of them he assigns a shade made up of two color tones. The minor second is made up of the color tones 1 + 23; two closely juxtaposed yellows, one rather reddish and the other rather greenish (in Ostwald's 24-part color circuit 24 to yellow, 6 to red, 12 to blue, 18 to green, 1 to yellow with 1/6 part red, and so forth).

    As we approach the interval of a third, the pairs of colors become increasingly contrasted, culminating in the fourth in the complementary colors red and green. The contrasts then become weaker and coalesce in the pure blue 12. This is again the complementary color of pure yellow 24, the original tone of the octave.

Karl Gerstner, The Forms of Color 1986, 170

Copyright 1998–2001 Fred Collopy. This document was last updated on 3/17/01; it is located at