What the Hell Is Synesthesia and Why Does Every Musician Seem to Have It?


(via Pitchfork)

By Ryan Dombal

For Duke Ellington, a D note looked like dark blue burlap while a G was light blue satin. When Pharrell Williams listened to Earth, Wind & Fire as a kid, he saw burgundy or baby blue. For Kanye West, pianos are blue, snares are white, and basslines are dark brown and purple. Orange is a big one for Frank Ocean.

All of these artists—along with Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Mary J. Blige, Blood Orange‘s Dev Hynes, and more—have synesthesia, a condition in which a person’s senses are joined. They hear a certain timbre or musical note and see a color, or smell a perfume and hear a sound, or see a word and taste a flavor. According to Carol Steen, the co-founder of the American Synesthesia Association, there are more than 60 permutations of synesthesia, and recent studies have suggested around 4% of us have it in some form. But while it may seem like tons of musicians are trying to associate themselves with synesthesia nowadays—Steen says she’s heard rumors about Beyoncé having it, though “she hasn’t been vetted yet so I don’t know for sure”—the condition wasn’t always seen as an express route to creative genius. (Philosopher John Locke was writing about combined senses as early as the 17th century, though the term “synesthesia” wasn’t coined until the mid-1800s.) Until about 20 years ago, many synesthetes were uncomfortable sharing their curious gifts with the rest of the world…

Read more: http://pitchfork.com/thepitch/229-what-the-hell-is-synesthesia-and-why-does-every-musician-seem-to-have-it/

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. peace1971
    Dec 09, 2015 @ 18:56:41

    It’s interesting. I realize that.



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