Why the shape code works

cracking the code of music theoryColorMusic is sweet because it reveals every note pattern in music. At a glance, each color tells us which note is which … and how they all relate. Like a powerful one-two punch, this color code gives us a big advantage in music.

But the colors alone can’t do the job. Which is why we need the note shapes, too. In Color Music, the squares and circles play an equally important role. Like an unsung hero, this shape code totally supports the color code.

It’s simple, really. For example, imagine we got rid of the alternating shapes and used only 12 colors. While the colors look nice, they don’t really show us any useful patterns.

Without the alternating note shapes, it’s almost impossible to tell each note apart. And that means we can’t see any connections between the notes either. All we get is 12 colors that look an awful lot alike.

But when we use squares and circles, everything suddenly pops. In a flash, we immediately can see which note is which. There is no need for guesswork. We just have a clear view of 12 separate notes.

In fact, these shapes even speed up our thinking. By highlighting musical intervals, the squares and circles help us see how the notes relate. And they show us much more than the basic whole-steps and half-steps.

For example, if a certain tonic note happens to be a square, then we already know the scale degrees of the other note shapes. Those squares must be notes M2 … M3 … #4/b5 … b6 … and b7. Easy!

Likewise, the circle notes must be b2 … b3 … 4 … 5 … 6 … and 7. (And this works the same way with all square tonic notes.)

Of course, the reverse is also true when the tonic note is a circle. The circles must include the 1 … M2 … M3 … #4/b5 … b6 … and b7.


And the squares include b2 … b3 … 4 … 5 … 6 … and 7.

Just as we’d expect, the note shapes help us quickly see every interval and pattern. So no matter what we play, Color Music does the trick. Tirelessly working to help our eyes and minds run at full speed.


  • michael w guthrie

    I have been doing the same thing for a long time, both on guitar and piano, trying to show the first, third, and fifth note of each key in one color so you can readily see which note combinations are available to make up, for example, a major chord. So I would have red stickers labeled C, 3, and 5, and green stickers labeled G, 3, and 5, and orange stickers labeled F, 3, and 5, etc. On the piano, there will be multiple stickers on many keys, because the same key has several different relationships to the different chromatic keys. Since they have the numbers on the 3 and 5 key, it is easy to convert from a major to a minor by flatting the 3, or going to a 7th by sharping the 5 without needing stickers for those other notes. With your shapes idea, it would be good for the 1, 3, and 5 to be different shapes in each color, preferably with the 1 labeled with the key (C, etc.) and the others just with the 3 and 5.
    I would like to purchase stickers like this from you if they become available. Good luck getting this business started…Mike Guthrie, 4 Victoria Circle, Collegeville, Pa 19426 484-653-8839

  • MyColorMusic

    Thanks for your comments, Mike. It’s cool that you play multiple instruments. The beautiful thing about music is that once you learn the patterns in one key, they work the same way in all the others. I’ll be sure to let you know when the stickers are available. They’re getting close!

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