‘ROY G BIV’ Synthesizer App Transforms Colors into Music


Users can turn their environment into a musical production with a mobile device and the swipe of a finger

Charlie Stephens
  • 31 july 2014

Colors have the power of evoking strong emotions. Mostly everything is made up of a certain color, or a combination of colors- in turn affecting our relationship with the things we examine. Then of course, there is texture, size, and shape- all of which give objects character and distinctive qualities. But it isn’t until an object emits sound, that it truly seems to come to life.

Designer Julian Glander has developed a synthesizer app that links color with music, giving all objects the ability to emit customized audio. Named after the colors of the rainbow, ROY G BIV allows users to point their smartphone camera at their surroundings, whether it be a slice of pizza or their own face, and convert targeted colors into musical creations.

The dominant color picked up by the camera forms the basis for a single octave keyboard, which can then be manipulated by users by tapping one of eight on screen keys. The keyboard changes tune when directed at new objects, so users can maintain a variety of sounds by simply moving their camera. There are also four additional buttons for a kick-drum, snare, hi hat, and “doggy bark” for users to add their own personal flare to the music.


The app blurs the lines between audio and visual by using qualities such as hue, saturation, and brightness of colors to generate unique audio clips. Slight differences in color translate into varying waveforms, oscillations, and attack/decay times of the resulting music.

Different from the many other music and photo manipulating apps on the market, ROY G BIV uses the smartphone camera as a non-photo input device. This has been Glander’s inspiration for developing the app, and the reason why he believes people should use it. Glander explains how the app’s simplicity can be useful:

I can see it appealing to stressed creative types who need some thoughtless bleep bloop time in the office, or parents who want to teach their toddlers about color.

ROY G BIV is a synthesized, fun and creative means of interacting with one’s surrounding environment. Like the colors they represent, the musical tones produced give rise to a broad spectrum of emotions and allow users to explore an entirely new dimension of colored objects.

Glander has hinted at a future version of the synthesizer- hopefully one with a streamlined interface and higher-quality sounds. ROY G BIV is available for purchase for iOS and Android, so users can begin experimenting with colored music production.

Julian Glander // ROY G BIV

[h/t] Fast Co Design, Daily Dot

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