I'm searching for the root source of Alexander Scriabin's note color mapping.

Wikipedia states in: Clavier à lumières that it is located in the score of Prometheus: Poem of Fire.

But, but, but in scores found on IMSLP Only the second one contains something that may be treated as this mapping. It is described as a reprint of the first edition, although the first PDF that looks like the first edition does not contain such mapping anywhere.

Is it the root source of Scriabin's note color mapping? Or is there a more reliable source somewhere?


The article Synesthetic Perception: Alexander Scriabin's Color Hearing by Kenneth Peacock, in Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal Vol. 2, No. 4 (Summer, 1985) details the sources. It's on JStor.

It contains a list of Scriabin's (AND Rimsky-Korsakov's) synesthetic perceptions of all the keys. They're shown as major keys. He says Scriabin objected to the terms 'major and minor' in tonality, but that shades and nuances of colour were associated with modulation and that composite colours were the result of several tonalities being combined.

It also contains C.C. von Gleich's description of the role of the Tastiera per luce part (the top stave) in Prometheus and his convincing analysis of precisely how the colours relate to the harmonies.

Leonid Sabaneyev (or 'Sabaneev'), an authority on Scriabin, had a printed copy of Prometheus, which Scriabin extensively annotated with colour markings in 1913. It was acquired by the Paris Bibliothèque Nationale in 1978.

I think this search should have found it there, but perhaps I did something wrong (Scriabine instead of Skrâbin?!). Or maybe it hasn't been digitized yet.

  • Probably this? catalogue.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cb43274821t
    – majkrzak
    Nov 12 '20 at 15:34
  • Well, I did see that. It's Sabaneyev's two-piano arrangement of the piece. I think they would have been looking at the score, because only that would have the light keyboard part. Not positive though. And it's certainly from the right period. Nov 12 '20 at 16:06

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