Gwyneth Walker

Sounds and Colors

for String Quartet (2016)

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View/download a PDF file of the full score of this work.
View/download a PDF file of the instrumental parts of this work.


The aural experience of listening to music is often matched by visual associations. Listeners see landscapes, movement and colors. It is this last connection which has inspired the creation of Sounds and Colors.

The composer has selected colors, or color groups, as the theme for each movement. Perhaps colorful slides will be displayed during the performance. Or perhaps the musical/color association will be left to the listeners' imagination!

"Shades of Blue" opens with sky blue, reaching up to the sky. This is followed by deep ocean blue, the blues, royal blue and, as a casual ending, blue jeans!

"Green is Happening" associates the color green with Spring, with buds opening, a fullness of sound (blurred patterns), playful, light touches, and flowers popping up.

"Bright Yellow and Yellow Dots" is cheerful and sunny, opening with sunbursts. Little dots fill the middle section. Joy returns, leading to a final sunburst.

"Red to Crimson to Silver" focuses on the warmth of the color red. The notes huddle together. They rise with the warmth of the heart to a jubilant, bright red. The music grows in intensity to a crimson strength, then a softer silver fading to a pure white silence.

While creating this quartet for players in Orlando, FL, the composer has kept strongly in mind the tragic shooting on June 12, 2016. The community responded with rallies, displaying rainbow-colored banners and posters in support and unity. The composer has created "Many Colors" within this spirit of together-with-diversity.

The music opens in unison, and then spreads out to include many notes (i.e., many colors), rising to a triumphant statement of the theme. The notes then converge to a unison ending. The listener may hear the rhythms of the following phrase spoken by the instruments at beginning and end:

We are of many colors -- the rainbow 'neath the sun.
All that we hope and all that we ask is to live together as one.

Notes by the composer