Music and art are two of man's oldest pursuits. Throughout time, human beings have expressed themselves through whatever mediums have been available to them, from instruments fashioned out of wood to cave paintings and beyond. Today, artistic expression is increasingly taking place through digital media. And since research has shown that there are correlations between music and color, we chose to explore the relationship between music and color as expressed through the creation of digital art.
How do people choose to express themselves artistically when listening to music? Are color choices affected by what style of music they are listening to? As mentioned, research shows conclusive evidence for correlations people make between music and color. For example, the color red is associated with strong, vigorous music and pulsating beats. Yellow is associated with lively music. Slower, plodding music was associated with blue in one study.
However, previous research has not allowed subjects to actually create art while listening to music. We wanted to, rather than asking subjects to consciously choose colors, ask them to create art in a digital paint program, and watch the color choices they made as a part of the creative process. Subjects were allowed to paint whatever they wanted - from abstract doodling to pictures - and to choose whatever colors they wanted.
In addition we conducted a survey to find out what colors different genres of music bring to mind in separate subjects. This survey was similar to previous research studies. We then compared the results of both of these experiments to see how they correlated with one another.
Results show that certain music pieces brought out strong tendencies in subjects to paint certain colors. For example, the classical and reggae pieces were strongly associated with blue, yellow and green when painting. These colors were sometimes also strongly associated with the colors people chose when asked to match a color to a genre. Other music pieces had less strongly correlated colors.