I have a super power.
Except for the fact that I didn’t know that I was unique in this until I was 18 years old. I have a condition called synesthesia. Synesthesia is the production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body. So to put this in normal people terms, I see color when I hear music, and sometimes when I hear voices or sounds. But synesthesia isn’t limited to this. Other people associate color with numbers, letters. Some people feel instruments in their limbs or taste music.
So I asked the kind people of Facebook and twitter (and my flat mates) and here are your questions about my strange condition being answered!
What does it look like?
So think about when you zone out. Y’know how you kinda see and kinda don’t see whats really there? My synesthesia is in that same part of my mind. The color moves with the music and tends to change color with the key. For voices, its more sharp and sudden, but still has a warm glowy look to it.
How does that affect you?
It makes music significantly more enjoyable. Again, I didn’t realize that I was alone on this until I was 18. Every note on the keyboard has a color, but once you start combining notes into chords and triads, the color suddenly changes so its impossible for me to truly have perfect pitch just through my synesthesia. Sometimes its really overwhelming.
Do you think you view the world differently?
Absolutely! I think I see the world in a much more creative way. Its making music much more magical. I also feel like I’m seeing music’s secret identity. Like I’m getting a 360 degree view of what music is.
Does it freak you out at all?
Sometimes. When there is too much dissonance, I can’t see color at all and instead it looks like static in my head. Seeing color for people’s voices completely freaks me out and when I do see color for every sound, its terrifying.
About that seeing voices thing, how does that happen?
I only see people’s voices when I’m either high or having a severe panic attack. I don’t know why either of those things triggers it. Possibly because my mind is more active? I’m not sure. When I’m high its a very pleasant experience but when I’m having a panic attack, I literally see the color of every person’s voice and it is completely overwhelming.
What was your first experience with synesthesia?
I guess when I was super young. My parents played Vivaldi’s Four Seasons for me every night before I went to sleep and I remember those pieces always having color. The first piece was always a light blue and then got darker and moved to orange. I remember the first time I realized I had synesthesia, we were listening to John Coltrane and my mom was talking about synesthesia. When I mentioned I’ve always seen color for music, she asked me what color the song was and it was navy blue.
How has this affected your study of music?
Its been incredibly useful. Since every individual note has its own color, I’ve been paying more attention to it so I can tune better. I can see when a piece is starting to get out of tune when the color of the piece starts to change hues. I’m working on my pitch by focusing more on the colors of the flats and sharps of notes.
Are there any negative effects?
It can get overwhelming. Sometimes I get sensory overload and have panic attacks and I have to be in complete silence for a while. But thats only happened every once in a while. Its a very enjoyable experience otherwise.
What notes are what colors?
C: White. D: Blue. E: Red. F: Orange. G: Green. A: Black/brown. B: Purple.
Thank you all so much for your questions! Please continue to ask me. I am an open book. (or open blog..)
Have a day filled with kittens, okay?
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