Sketches in Colour

Student Composition Cycle (2010/2011)

Veronika Davy Piano Studio



© Veronika Davy 2010, all rights reserved.

In 2010/2011 the senior and intermediate students in the studio participated in a composition project.  They began by studying two collections of pieces by American composer Robert Starer, called ‘Sketches in Colour’.  Each of these compositions is based on a colour (for example: Crimson, Bright Orange, Purple, Black and White, Gold, etc.).  Students examined what musical elements (i.e. tempo, tone, rhythm, dynamics, range, chord colours, etc.) were used in each to create an aural impression of colour.  They then used their understanding of these elements to create their own colour compositions.  The complete collection of student ‘Sketches in Colour’ was performed at our 2011 Spring Recital.

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Jordan was inspired by the shades of blue light seen at dusk on a cloudy day.   He wanted to conjure the floating feeling and weightlessness of clouds as well as a feeling of calm with darker, sad undertones.

Mark created five sections in his composition to represent the different images and ideas conjured by the colour black (1) Dark and ominous (2) Empty, vast, lonely, and echoing (3) Sneaky and mischievous (4) Inky and grimy (5) Sorrowful. He also used a repeating tritone figure throughout the base line to maintain unity throughout his composition.

YELLOW: Emmett

Emmet was inspired by the cheerfulness of the colour yellow.  He wanted to create an energetic composition with a bright sound, and a sunny disposition.


Rebecca was inspired by a variety of images (a  dark and sparkling gem stone, the deep emerald hues found in the depths of the rain forest, a mossy green castle...)  Her composition highlights the contrast between the depth and richness of the colour and the sparkling lighter tones conjured by the jewel.


Joyce was inspired by the changing light throughout the day on the lavender fields in the south of France.

Adam was inspired by the steel grey colour of the cylons and space craft in his favourite computer game.  He also had in mind a battle in outer space.  Adam tried to conjure the hard, shiny sound of steel grey.  He made use of f chord clusters as well as the whole tone scale.

ICE BLUE: Maggie

Maggie was inspired by the cool tones and fragility of ice blue.  In her composition, you will hear these qualities translated into sound.  There is also a feeling of isolation and loneliness in her piece.

AQUA: Emma

Emma was inspired by the aqua waters of the caribbean.   She worked to create a calm, watery sound in her composition with the darker tones of night.


Kyle was inspired by the drama of the colour crimson.