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Auroratone films were produced by the Auroratone Foundation of America Inc. in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. The films showed crystal-like abstract color patterns that changed and blended with each other. The patterns were produced by using crystallizing chemicals and polarized light, which were then synchronized to a variety of recorded musical tracks. The process was developed by English psychologist and scientist Cecil Stokes,[1] who was the founder and technical director of the company. Stokes was issued patent 2292172 on August 4, 1942, for "Process and Apparatus for Producing Musical Rhythm in Color".[2][3]

The films were combined into a thirty-minute-long color movie entitled Music In Color. The first films were presented to the public in 1940 in San Diego and were then shown at various theaters in the United States and Canada.[4][5]

The name "Auroratone" was suggested by Father Bernard Hubbard, the "Glacier Priest", who characterized the process as the nearest thing to the natural Aurora Borealis which he had ever seen.[6]

The known films include:

The films were used as an experimental aid to the treatment of psychiatric patients, in particular war veterans. Some of these films were made available in August, 1945 to researchers Herbert E. Rubin and Elias Katz at Crile General Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio.[7] Bing Crosby was involved with these films due to his being a shareholder in the foundation and his interest in the rehabilitation of veterans.[8]

The Auroratone film process was considered as an application that would be incorporated into jukeboxes.[9]

A restored version of "When the Organ Played 'Oh Promise Me'", taken from a 16 mm film, is viewable on YouTube.[10][11]


  1. ^ "Trade Watches 'Music in Color'" (Billboard, June 23, 1945, page 65)
  2. ^ "Visual Music Instrument Patents: Volume One" edited by Michael Betancourt (Borgo Press, 2004, pages 203 to 212)
  3. ^ "Process and apparatus for producing musical rhythm in color US 2292172 A"
  4. ^ "Auroratone: Painting With Music" by Helen Westhoff (Best: The Popular Digest, Volume 4, pages 35 and 36, R. Eaton, 1946)
  5. ^ "God Must Have Painted Those Pictures: Illuminating Auroratone's Lost History" by Walter Forsberg
  6. ^ "Dun's Review", Volume 53, Issues 2201-2212, Page 42
  7. ^ "Auroratone Films for the Treatments of Psychotic Depressions in an Army General Hospital" by Herbert E. Rubin and Elias Katz. Published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology (October, 1946, Vol. 2 Issue 4, pages 333-340)
  8. ^ Description of video by Robert W. Martens
  9. ^ "Trade Watches 'Music in Color'" (Billboard, June 23, 1945, page 65)
  10. ^ Description of Video by Robert W. Martens
  11. ^ When the Organ Played 'Oh Promise Me'