Clavier à Lumières


The clavier [kluh-veerà [ahlumières [ly-myer] keyboard with lights) was a musical instrument invented by Russian composer, Alexander Scriabin for use in his work Prometheus: Poem of Fire. However, only one version of this instrument was constructed, for the performance in New York in 1915. The instrument’s keyboard lights up as synesthetic system, specified in the score.

Scriabin was a friend of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, who was a synesthete (someone with a neurologically-based condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway). Scriabin was also heavily influenced by Theosophy, which had its own different system of associating colors and pitches.

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