Color–Tone Analogies

1 Color–Tone Analogies in the Context of Symbolic and Cosmological Theories

The first occurrences of color–tone analogies are to be found in symbolic and cosmological models of the prehistoric period that sought parallels between all natural phenomena. Such equations were based on the belief in a superior unity of nature and in the existence of an all-embracing correspondence between microcosm and macrocosm. Thus, following the integration of light and sound into the myths of creation, it was mainly in Eastern Asia that not only colors and tones, but also the seasons, the human body, climate conditions, the points of the compass, the planets, years of life, and so forth, were structured and symbolically associated with one another. As regards the incorporation of these analogies in comparisons that concern only colors and musical tones, the associations made in line with this tradition by Athanasius Kircher are particularly important. These are described in his book Ars magna lucis et umbrae, dated 1646, where he creates associations between intensities of light, different degrees of brightness, types of tastes, the elements, years of life, levels of knowledge, levels of being, and tones, always using the same subdivision into five parts.


Timelines: – 1650
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