The Melodies of Renoir’s Colours

The Melodies of Renoir’s Colours


Click the links below to see and hear the movements in the suite.

1. Red
2. White
3. Blue
Video presentation about the pieces

SKU: FM960 Category:


The Melodies of Renoir’s Colours is a trio for clarinet, piano and cello. Ricky Chaggar composed this music by using data from colour (pigment) analysis of Renoir’s Portrait of Alphonsine Fournaise (1879). Chaggar mapped each of these sets of light wave data to an audible frequency range to find a closest musical note to each resulting sound tone value. This serves as musical connection to the painting, via the art chemical analysis and an interesting creative stimulus. Since the light wave frequencies are outside the range of human hearing, this involved dividing (reducing) each of those values by a hundred billion. He set himself the challenge of only using these notes to compose the main melodic themes. Every colour pigment has its own unique set of light wave readings and no two pigments are ever the same. These values act as a pigment’s fingerprint and as a result, each colour’s melody is also unique the specific pigment and painting. From these melodies, three contrasting movements were composed for the colours red, white and blue. They can also be performed as standalone pieces and have the potential to engage the audience with the world of art, music and science. The data was provided by Caroline Bouvier, a postgraduate researcher in art chemical analysis at Laboratoire d’Archéologie Moléculaire et Structurale (Sorbonne Université) in Paris.
Red (approximate length 2:25) is fun and energetic with playful passages of interaction and rhythms.
White (approximate length 3:10) is flowing and peaceful with sentiments of romance.
Blue (approximate length 5:35) is passionate and deep. Whereas the clarinet takes a more leading role in Red and White, it is the cello which brings much of the emotion here. Blue also brings a nostalgic feeling of times gone by.
The Melodies of Renoir’s Colours was selected to participate in the prestigious Cambridge Science Festival. It formed part of a music installation, with art/visual contribution from Bouvier. The installation was due to be exhibited at The Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University in March 2020. This festival was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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