Skip to Content

What key is the color violet in?

The color violet is associated with the key of B major or G♯ minor. This association comes from the fact that violet sits between blue and red on the visible spectrum, and B major sits between “bright” keys like C major and “dark” keys like A minor on the circle of fifths. Let’s explore this colorful connection between violet and the key of B major/G♯ minor.

Quick Answer

The key that the color violet is associated with is B major or G♯ minor. This comes from violet’s position on the color spectrum between blue and red, which corresponds to B major’s position between the “bright” key of C major and “dark” key of A minor on the circle of fifths.

Understanding the Color Spectrum

To understand why violet relates to the key of B major/G♯ minor, we first need to look at where violet sits on the visible color spectrum. The visible spectrum of light contains all the colors that the human eye can perceive, ranging from red on one end to violet on the other, with orange, yellow, green, blue, and indigo in between. Violet sits right next to blue, on the short wavelength side of the visible spectrum.

Order of Colors in the Visible Spectrum

Here is the complete order of colors as they appear in the visible light spectrum, from longest wavelength to shortest:

  • Red
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Indigo
  • Violet

As you can see, violet occupies the space between blue and the invisible ultraviolet frequencies, giving it a unique place at the transition point between visible and invisible light.

Understanding the Circle of Fifths

Now let’s look at how musical keys are organized on the circle of fifths. The circle of fifths arranges key signatures in a sequence based on their number of sharps or flats. Keys next to each other differ by only one sharp or flat.

At the top of the circle is the key of C major, which has no sharps or flats. As you travel clockwise around the circle, more sharps are added; counter-clockwise adds more flats. This creates two side-by-side rows of keys in alternating major and minor patterns.

Order of Major Keys on the Circle of Fifths

Here are the major keys in order around the outside of the circle of fifths:

  • C major (no sharps or flats)
  • G major (1 sharp)
  • D major (2 sharps)
  • A major (3 sharps)
  • E major (4 sharps)
  • B major (5 sharps)
  • F♯ major (6 sharps)
  • C♯ major (7 sharps)

Order of Minor Keys on the Circle of Fifths

Here are the minor keys listed inside the circle of fifths, counter-clockwise from C major:

  • A minor (no sharps or flats)
  • E minor (1 sharp)
  • B minor (2 sharps)
  • F♯ minor (3 sharps)
  • C♯ minor (4 sharps)
  • G♯ minor (5 sharps)
  • D♯ minor (6 sharps)
  • A♯ minor (7 sharps)

Looking at the key order, you can see that B major and G♯ minor sit right next to each other on the circle of fifths, with 5 sharps each.

Relating the Color and Music Spectrums

Now we can relate the color and musical spectrums. Violet sits between blue and ultraviolet on the visible color spectrum. On the circle of fifths, B major sits between E major and F♯ major. E major is analogous to blue as a “bright” key, while F♯ major is an extremely “sharp” key verging on atonality, similar to ultraviolet frequencies being beyond visible light.

Like violet bridges the visible and invisible worlds, B major bridges the pleasant “bright” keys like C and G major and the more dissonant “dark” keys like F♯ and C♯ major. This makes B major the closest musical fit for the color violet.

Visual Comparison of Color and Music Spectrums

Visible Color Spectrum Circle of Fifths
Red C major
Orange G major
Yellow D major
Green A major
Blue E major
Indigo B minor
Violet B major / G♯ minor
Ultraviolet (invisible) F♯ major / C♯ minor

You can see how the ordering mirrors itself – red to blue on one side, C major to E major on the other. And violet and B major sit correspondingly between the visible/pleasant keys and the invisible/dissonant keys.

Why the Violet-B Major Association Makes Sense

Beyond just the spectral correspondence, there are a few other reasons why violet is strongly associated with B major and G♯ minor:

  • Uniqueness of Violet

    Violet is the only color name in the rainbow that doesn’t correspond to a single wavelength of light. Rather, violet spans a range of wavelengths blending blue and ultraviolet. This makes it seem almost otherworldly, mystical and unique. Similarly, B major is a rare key signature, seldom used in popular music due to its high number of sharps.

  • Smooth Bridge Between Light and Dark

    As mentioned, violet provides a smooth bridge between blue and ultraviolet light. Analogously, B major connects the bright keys like C major and dark keys like F♯ major. Both violet and B major create a harmonic, gradual transition between realms rather than an abrupt jump.

  • Sense of Majesty and Transcendence

    Violet is associated with royalty, luxury, and ambition. The “crown chakra” is visualized as violet. Musically, compositions in B major often have a sense of majesty and transcendence, as seen in works by Wagner, Rachmaninoff and others. Both violet and B major evoke ascending to a higher plane.

These parallels further reinforce why violet feels tied to B major and G♯ minor, beyond just their analogous positions on the color and music wheels.

Examples of Compositions in B Major/G♯ Minor

Many famous classical works feature the key of B major or G♯ minor, which captures the mystical, transcendent qualities associated with the color violet:

  • Bach – Prelude and Fugue in B major from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1

    The cascading arpeggios and uplifting melodies give this piece an ethereal quality well-suited to violet.

  • Chopin – Etude Op. 25 No. 11 in B major (“Winter Wind”)

    The haunting, rushing passages evoke violet’s cool mystique and blend of blue and ultraviolet.

  • Rachmaninoff – Prelude in B minor

    The repeating high B motifs and rich melodic movement creates a transcendent, regal mood.

  • Wagner – Prelude to Tristan und Isolde

    This prelude begins and ends in B major. The yearning melodies and shifting harmonies evoke violet’s blend of light and dark.

These pieces demonstrate the evocative capacities of the B major/G♯ minor key to capture the essence of the color violet.


In summary, violet is associated with the key of B major/G♯ minor due to:

  • Its position between blue and ultraviolet on the visible color spectrum, analogous to B major between “bright” and “dissonant” keys on the circle of fifths.
  • Its unique bridging of the visible and invisible light realms, similar to how B major connects the pleasant “white key” keys with the more discordant “black key” keys.
  • Its regal, mystical connotations paralleled in compositions in B major and G♯ minor.

The next time you see the color violet, think of the music of Bach, Chopin, Rachmaninoff and Wagner in B major and G♯ minor. And if you hear these great works, visualize the enigmatic, smooth blending of violet that inspired them. Now you understand the intrinsic connection between violet and the key of B major/G♯ minor!