The Emotional Lives Of Colors (trumpet, piano, percussion)

Commissioned by Lexie Signor (for trumpet, piano, and percussion)

Score and parts will be made available for sale after the premiere.  Recording will be posted as soon as I have it.



About This Piece

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and his theory on how colors impacted mental states was the inspiration for this piece. He was far more gifted with prose than I, so I’ll him explain further:

We shall not be surprised to find that [colours’] effects are at all times decided and significant, and that they are immediately associated with the emotions of the mind.

Colour, considered as an element of art, may be made subservient to the highest aesthetical needs.

General impressions produced by single colours cannot be changed[.] They act specifically and must produce definite, specific states in the living organ. Experience teaches us that particular colours excite particular states of feeling.

Goethe goes on to detail these notions in an elaborate, deeply imaginative treatise. Sadly for him, this work was coming out just as the science of optics had begun to give the world an empirical understanding of color, leaving Goethe’s romantic ideas in the margins.

But it is those ideas that I find intriguing from a poetic viewpoint, and, in this composition, I shed musical light unto his dramatic descriptions of several different colors.

“Yellow-Red” is described as “primordial, impetuous, robust,” to the point of eliciting “extreme excitement” which disturbs and enrages even animals!

“Yellow” is portrayed as that being nearest to natural light. It is of “utmost purity and beauty[….] Serene, gay, softly exciting.”

The color “Red-Blue” we are told is “something lively without gladness.”

“Blue” is steeped in darkness, a “contradiction between excitement and repose.” It gives one the “impression of cold.” and brings to mind melancholy.



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