Tag Archives: cross-sensory

Seeing sounds, hearing colors, part III

PrintTom tells me that my voice is yellow when he speaks to me in person, but is a bright green on the phone.  I’m not sure what I think about having a yellow voice, or even a bright green one.  While I hear voices as lighter or darker, throaty, wispy, husky, gravelly, etc., and I may think conceptually of a color when I hear a voice, I do not actually see the color.  But Tom, a wonderful tenor, good pianist and also former student of mine, has synesthesia, the condition in which a stimulus in one sense triggers a response in another.  And he actually sees yellow when he hears my voice. Continue reading

Seeing sounds, hearing colors, part II

Imagine if you saw a color whenever you looked at someone’s face, and different faces were different colors.  Or tasted eggs when you heard the word “fax.”  Or saw a mental map placing any number you saw or heard in a certain location in space (as in Number formthe image at the left, called a number form).  Or had a bitter taste in your mouth when you heard a major second and a salty taste when you heard a minor third. These are all forms of synesthesia, the involuntary physical experience in which a stiumulus to one sense automatically triggers a sensation in a second or even third sense.   Continue reading

Seeing sounds, hearing colors, part I

I have often asked a student “what color does this movement (or excerpt, or chord progression) suggest to you?”  Color becomes a metaphor for sound – an additional tool for accessing the emotional content of the work, because most of us (even if unaware of it) associate colors with emotions – lighter colors for happiness, darker colors for sadness.   After all, babies, those bundles of happiness, are usually not wrapped in navy or black blankets.  Continue reading