Through Color

“Through color sensation alone, virtually without the agency of shape we become absorbed into the experience of vision.”- Feldman

The statement above, made by E.Burke Feldman in reference to an abstract painting by Mark Rothko titled Earth and Green, could be analogous to the listeners aural experience when listening to Schoenberg’s “Summer Morning By A Lake”, (Farben), from The Five Pieces for Orchestra, op.16.

In the case of the Rothko painting the eye tends to go with sensation of intensely defined and undefined colors accompanied with blurred, burnished, lines of forgiving demarcation. In the Schoenberg composition the ear follows the subtle orchestral shifts in color handled masterfully by Schoenberg. His choices draw our ears to the colors. The colors open and breathe. They are both intense, and subtle. Defined and undefined. There is a perceivable rhythmic pulse supporting these subtle shifts in color. This rhythmic feature adds stability. The colors blend, separate, recombine and emerge anew. Klangfarbenmelodie in this sense can be perceived as being, aurally, similar to gradations of color that we notice in the Rothko. We become absorbed into the color and the sound. The subtlety intrigues and teases. And it is sustainable.

In composing a piece based on color we could approach it in many ways:

fuse timbres
treat color as a process
create special timbral combinations

Are these all approaches to composing using color..
Where is the strength of melody..and how do you create contrast if everything is fused, is it not making something too amorphous, can there be unifying definition through orchestral color that takes on the role formerly reserved for melody

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