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Sound and Light III

This topic diverges from the examination of light and sound as a natural science. Instead, light and sound are examined through a “social science” lens. How might “light pollution” impact people living in large cities? How do light and sound affect our emotions and well-being? Have you ever considered there are lighting professionals that make use of light theory and “visual dynamics” ideas? How about in sales and marketing? How might a marketing pro use light, color, sound and music to do their job?

Lesson 1 (or “Day 1”) Material
Lesson 2 (or “Day 2”) Material
Lesson 3 (or “Day 3”) Material
Lesson 4 (or “Day 4”) Material

4:00 Does Color Really Affect How You Act?

3:30 Hearing Colors, Seeing Sounds: Synesthesia

4:11 How Do Colors Affect Purchases? Color and Marketing | Infographic

Compare Contrast and Debate

Background: Some topics (Sound and Light, in particular) apply to multiple disciplines. The study of sound and light have been studied part of physics in the previous two topics. But sound and light are crucial to other natural sciences as well. For example, sound is helpful to biologists and medical professionals in generating ultrasonic images. Geologists and geophysicists use sound waves and their reflections to identify layers of earth deep beneath the surface. Perhaps it is obvious – but sound and light are also crucial to disciplines outside of the natural sciences. For example, sound is the primary medium for musicians. Color and light are important aspects of visual art. Social sciences including psychology and sociology study the impacts and influences of sound and light on individuals and communities. Marketing professionals make use of sound and light to invoke emotional responses from their customers.

  • Position A: Physical science students should be concerned only with sound and light as these subjects relate to physics and the natural sciences.
  • Position B: Physical science students should identify disciplines concerned with sound and light beyond just the applications in physics and natural science.

Resources Documents and Links

Color Swatch Supplement

Special Notes and Notices

Instructor Emphasis:

  • Science & Engineering Practice: Plan and conduct investigations.
  • Cross-Cutting Concept: Systems and System Models.

Psychoacoustics is the scientific study of sound perception and audiology. More specifically, it is the branch of science studying the psychological and physiological responses associated with sound (including noise, speech and music). It can be further categorized as a branch of psychophysics. Color psychology is the study of hues as a determinant of human behavior. Color influences perceptions that are not obvious, such as the taste of food. Colors can also enhance the effectiveness of placebos. For example, red or orange pills are generally used as stimulants. Color can indeed influence a person; however, it is important to remember that these effects differ between people. Factors such as gender, age, and culture can influence how an individual perceives color.


If sufficient time exists for this module – explore the following four portions of Authur Bliss’ musical work called “A Colour Symphony” and discuss whether or not the sounds evoke the colors as described for students in the classroom.

Arthur Bliss: A Colour Symphony (1921/1932)

0:00 Purple

Slow and majestic in pace and ceremonial in character. The colour of Amethysts, Pageantry, Royalty and Death.

6:18 Red

A glittering, spiky and percussive scherzo, reminiscent of Stravinsky. The colour of Rubies, Wine, Revelry, Furnaces, Courage and Magic.

13:20 Blue

Slow, with chords used to depict the lapping of water against a moored boat or a pier. The colour of Sapphires, Deep Water, Skies, Loyalty and Melancholy.

23:29 Green

A double fugue (which has been described as “Schoenbergian”) on violas, strings, clarinets and woodwinds, leading to a triumphant climax. The colour of Emeralds, Hope, Youth, Joy, Spring and Victory.