Synaesthesia Discovery

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Music to Colour Synaesthesia

It is always so enjoyable to discuss music synaesthesia with Skye. I wish I had it myself. I envy my children and my husband who have music synaesthesia. With their enhanced perception, music brings so much joy.

Skye sees the sound of each music note in a distinct colour or a mixture of colours. He hopes one day, he can create a colour chart for the whole set of 88 piano keys and share with readers of this blog.

Like many music to colour synaesthetes, Skye’s music to colour perception can vary depending on a number of things such as timbre, instrument, or the setting of a room. In a way, music to colour synaesthesia can be more complex than some people think.

If C#4 is played on an iPad piano, it becomes one of his favourite notes. He sees a light flame, like a bonfire. But if the same note is played on a recorder, he sees an ordinary orange colour, and doesn’t feel the same emotion. Similarly, the note D4 played on a recorder triggers off yellow whereas D4 played on a piano is black.

When Skye plays the keyboard, he can see colours swirling around in front of him. His experience at the concert hall in Prague was quite different. Colours were all over the stage. They popped on the conductor’s head, landed on the pianist’s leg, and traveling from one side of the stage to the other. Colours were also appearing everywhere in the room except behind him. We were sitting downstairs, but colours went upstairs. Skye was busy turning his head from left to right, up and down, to trace his colours.

His colour perception can again change if he listens to music in a room with surround sounds. He feels colours behind him too. He often turns his head around with his eyes closed as he can see colours with his eyes closed. If he opens his eyes, the colours can disappear quickly just like a comet flying away.

Before Skye completes his colour chart, here are a few examples of what colours he sees when he hears some music notes:

A1 (Skye’s favourite note): rainbow (he also sees a 2*2 grid)
B4: sandy colour
B1: grey+gold
G6: turquoise
D#3: light yellow
D5: white
G2: no colour
C3: light red
G5: dark sea blue
B7: green
C8: green

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