Sunday, March 10, 2019

Musical Harmonies and Color Harmonies

A while back I received this enthusiastic message, "I have been searching high and low to find a strap to match one of my guitars. I am so happy to have come across your website! I absolutely love your straps! They are exactly what I’ve been looking for."
(My website is here:

 "I would love to have one made to match my guitar if you’re interested. The guitar is a 3 tone sunburst Telecaster. It has a few subtle appointments that make it what I consider to be a very beautiful guitar, off white binding and abalone dot inlays on the fretboard."

I can never resist a creative challenge like this. So, what would I make to match this guitar?
Since I LOVE color blending, I started with a design which played off of the color gradation, or "burst" as they call this type of paint job on a guitar. I used 9 colors and loved the progression!

But, it didn't include any of the colors from the abalone, which he really wanted. So, Jason, being very clever, found his way to the "Band Weaving Pattern Editor", my favorite design tool and created his own strap pattern, shown below! Good job! Not enough threads, though.

He and I kept playing with variations on this design until we got one that he liked. 

I sent him some photos of yarn, so he could help choose the colors. Then, magic happened!

He wrote, "When I started looking at a color wheel to help pick the colors for the guitar strap, I realized that it was separated into 12 sections just like the circle of fifths used in music." 

"You and I had already discussed some possible colors inspired by the finish adornments on the guitar so I had an idea of some bass notes, or base colors to look for. 

I used the I V vi IV  musical progression and set the C note to line up with orange on the color wheel which gave me:
I - C - Orange
V - G - Yellow
vi - A(min) - Green
IV - F - Purple/Wine red

There was the palette!  I used that as a base when I set up the colors in the pattern editor.  
So what we have represented in the colors is: 
The red, orange, and yellow gradient from the sunburst finish on the guitar body. 
I really liked the first weave you did with the really elaborate gradient, It was beautiful! I wanted to make sure we paid homage to that.
Then we have the green which was matched to the slight tint of green in the pick guard and also one of the colors in the abalone inlays.
There is also a deep purple / wine red which matches the abalone and the darkest shades of the sunburst finish.
Black as a background color.
And finally the off-white from the binding on the guitar.
We checked all of the boxes from the original inspiration!"

So, I wove Jason's design, sent him a photo and it was a hit!

His response, upon receiving the strap,  " It’s awesome!  It looks even better in person!
I am so happy with it!  It matches the guitar beautifully. I’ve attached a picture for you.
Thanks again!  This was a great experience.  You are a master of your craft!"

So then, he made me this color wheel combined with the circle of fifths so I could experiment!!!

"You could find the chords to a song you like and see how they correspond to the colors on the color wheel - or vice versa- You could use the color from a pattern you create and then see how it translates musically.  Bear in mind too that you could shift the color wheel or the circle of fifths in either direction to get different combinations. Like if C lined up with blue instead of red, you could still use the same intervals and get a harmonious color palette.

Depending on ones knowledge of music theory and/ or color theory you could dig kind of deep with this.  You’ll notice that a lot of the same harmonious relationships exist on the color wheel and on the circle of fifths.  

Using this method, any piece of music could be interpreted as color and any instance of color could be represented by sound."

I'd love to  hear from anyone about experiences designing with musical harmonies!


  1. I was a music major in college, and remember how astounded I was to discover in a book called The Rainbow Book that the ratio of notes in a scale matched the ratio of colors in the spectrum!
    The other weaver who comes to mind that has used music-weaving relationships in her work is Jennifer Moore with double weave. Amazing stuff!

    1. Thank you! I'll look those up! So many ways to play with color!

  2. Wow! Annie, this is amazing!

    I also recall that Jennifer Moore used music as colour inspiration for double weave. She talked about it at great length as guest speaker at MAFA a few years ago. Maybe there is a transcript of her talk or even another one. I imagine that it would be a terrific area to explore.

    1. It's so ironic! Someone else mentioned her and then I found out that she was giving a talk last week to one of the local guilds that I belong to. I was teaching a class that day and couldn't go. I'll look around and see if I can find anything in print. It's an interesting topic!