Colour in Music

Ref: C3741300

This wide-ranging course should appeal to anyone who is interested in knowing more about the links between music and colour. In addition to exploring the shared terminology of music and art, it will consider such varied topics as synaesthesia (music heard as colour); the golden mean; colour theory; moods and colours of nature, etc. Various musical and artistic friendships and collaborations will be covered (e.g. Renoir and Wagner; Kandinsky and Schoenberg; Berlioz and John Martin; the influence of J.S. Bach on Klee, etc.). Turner's 'pictures of nothing' inspired European composers (especially Debussy and Liszt). Mozart, Chopin, Bartók and others were all intrigued by number theory. Even heraldic colours had an impact on musical composition. Also, the English 'picturesque' movement had remarkable parallels in the magnificent keyboard fantasias of Austro-German composers like C.P.E. Bach, Haydn and Beethoven.

Additional information about this course


Course aim

This course explores what happens when hearing and seeing merge during artistic creation. For instance: Why do some composers perceive chords as colours? How does one explain the structural similarity between a Poussin painting and a Chopin etude?

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • recognise the mutual interaction between music and art
  • recognise the impact of concepts such as the golden mean on both painting and music
  • analyse the importance of the part played by painters such as Turner in unleashing the forces of European musical Romanticism, especially in France
  • appreciate why the terminology of art and music is so often shared

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions
  • At the end of each session the tutor will make suggestions for further listening

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)
  • If you have access to the internet and have a current local library card, you might find it useful to log on to Grove Music Online and Grove Art Online from time to time

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here

Download full Course information sheet

Colour in Music


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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