Chromola

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"In 1911, composer Alexander Scriabin wanted to per- form a color-music piece called Prometheus, The Poem of Fire. According to some reviews, the color part of the per- formance did not work due to a machine failure [20]. Scri- abin wanted to perform this piece with the usage of colors at all costs, so a second attempt to create a color organ to produce colors along to the music was taken.

Preston Millar, a specialist in electrical lighting who worked at the Modest Altschuler, was contacted to supervise the project which would finally result in an instrument called the “Chromola”. Twelve differently colored lights were operated by a keyboard of 15 keys (the first three lights were repeated on the remaining keys). No specific color-music mapping was created for this device, since the only goal was to serve the wish of Scriabin to accompany his music with light. Scriabin had created a special score to “play” the colors along with the music. The mapping that he used was entirely based on his own feelings.

The initial performance using the Chromola was not a big success. The audience was not impressed by the projection of the colors on a small screen in front of the musicians. Later, the small screen was replaced by a few white curtains, which moved in the wind generated by some fans at a small distance. If this setup would have been used initially, the project might have been a much bigger success. However, this color organ has stated the beginning of a large number of attempts to create such devices." [1]