Establishing a Tonic Space with Digital Color


Session Title:

  • Exploring New Tools for the Artist

Presentation Title:

  • Establishing a Tonic Space with Digital Color



  • Since Isaac Newton, colorists have, with little success, looked for ways to associate the vibrations of light and color with the vibrations of music and sound. Although the idea of proportion has been mentioned in these efforts it has never been studied thoroughly. This paper proposes, through use of computers and digital raster graphics, a means of measuring the color balance of an image through proportions of red, green and blue intensities. With this method of measurement it is possible to apply several theories of color harmony and balance to computer-based abstract imagery. Through the computer we get specific control of the process. If, through this technique, a quantifiable means of creating concordant color relationships is possible, then it makes color available to the composer as material for the coherent structuring of time. As in tonal music, movement in time can be established by movement in and out of balanced, consonant areas. An area of balanced color relationships could be thought of as a tonic space, functioning like the tonic pitch or key in tonal music.

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