Department: Department of Art Education
Degree programme: Master of Art Diploma work
Author: Leila Viitala
Title: MELODIOUS COLOURS - Messiaen's Turangalīla III -symphony as colourpaintings of teenagers
Level: Diploma Work
Number of pages: 100
This research deals with the context of music and seeing colours. As an experiment teenagers painted abstract colour
paintings during art lessons at school after listening to music. Then they completed a questionnaire.
The music was a symphony by the French composer Olivier Messiaen, Turangalīla-symphony part 9, Turangalīla III, the
love, the musical painting. Its narrative element is the medieval French tragedy of Triton and Isolde. Messiaen had a
synesthetic ability and he has largely described his musical experiences in terms of colour. Messiaen^Ņs modes are a
example of the complex and ever-changing compounding of sounds and colours in his thoughts. Messiaen has given an
exceptionally exact definition of the colours of different instruments, including for Turangalila III. The colours of
instruments, the descriptions of certain modes and the feeling in the composition formed the method for this
The integral problem here is to discover whether the pupils see the colours in the music the composer has experienced
whether they catch the feeling of the music in their paintings. The group in the experiment was Class 7A of Tenetti
Comprehensive School in Sotkamo, consisting of 8 girls and 8 boys. There is no special emphasis in this school on arts
any other subjects. The pupils had been taught colour and abstract composition before the task. The painting took
The results a positive surprise. There were many similarities between the paintings and the colours of Messiaen. The
pupils had well understood the whole feeling in the music. There were strong compositional and colourful contrasts,
analogy in red and black and in general the use of black making a reference to the dramatic episodes in the music.
Integration of the arts as well as the effects of colour and music have been researched separately. This represents a
method for experimenting on the synesthesy of the senses. The testing and developing of the method is in its early
More complex and valid results could be achieved by collaborating with specialists in various branches of art.
between teachers of visual arts and music and even of researchers awaits futher research including looking into
music and colours.
Materials: Music,abstract colour paintings, questionnaire
Keywords: Identity in colour and sound, colour theory, Turangalīla III
Where deposited: Library TKO and TaiK/UIAH