Kandinsky, working in the 1920’s, was also not a synesthete, despite his fame for his synesthetic artwork. Many of his paintings and stage pieces were based upon a set and established system of correspondences between colors and the timbres of specific musical instruments. Kandinsky himself, however, stated that his correspondences between colors and musical timbres has no «scientific» basis, but was founded upon a combination of his own personal feelings, current prevailing cultural biases, and mysticism (see Kandinsky 1994; see also Dann 1998; Riccò 1999: 138-142).
Schematization of the correspondences between colors and musical timbres according to Kandinsky:
|Yellow||Trumpet; Sound of the fanfare|
|Blue||Deep sounds from the organ|
|Very dark blue||Bass|
|Green||Middle tones of the violin|
|Gray||Lack of sound|
|Bright red||Fanfare; Tuba/Horn|
|Crimson red||Drum-roll; Tuba/Horn|
|Cool red||Medium and deep tones of the cello|
|Bright cool red||Other tones of the violin|
|Orange||Middle bells of the church; Strong contralto voice; Viola|
|Violet||English horn; Bagpipe|
|Deep purple||Deep tones of the woodwinds; Bassoon|
Sir Arthur Bliss, who wrote his Colour Symphony in 1922, was not a synesthete. He was simply yet another influenced by the ideas of «color music», although, for him, it did not come with the trappings of mystic religions, but, rather, with British traditions. The symphony features four movements: Purple; Red; Blue; and Green. Bliss based this work upon the symbolism generally associated with the colors in traditional English heraldry, along the following lines: «Purple – Amethysts, Pageantry, Royalty – and Death; Red – Rubies, Wine, Furnaces, Magic, …; Blue – Sapphires, Deep Water, Skies, Loyalty, Melancholy; Green – Emeralds, Hope, Youth, Joy, Spring, and Victory» (Dannatt 1991).
Around 1925, Alexander László, Hungarian musician and composer (born in 1895) composed a small set of Lichtmusik (light-music) pieces, including Eleven preludes (opus 10). Eleven preludes had the following scheme: 1. ultramarine; 2. yellow; 3. violet; 4. leaf-green; 5. grey; 6. red; 7. ice-blue; 8. white; 9. sea-green; 10. cress; 11. black. It is quite questionable as to whether László was a synaesthete; my current guess is that he probably was not.
Also in the 1920’s, Danish-born Thomas Wilfred came to the United States, became involved with the Theosophist movement, and designed and built a «color organ» which he named the Clavilux. He named the art-form produced «Lumia». He toured the U.S. and Europe, giving concerts. Likewise, Mary Hallock Greenewalt developed a color-organ which she named the Sarabet, on which she also gave concerts (see Moritz 2000).