Synaesthesia - seeing colours/shapes and smells in music

Djangette

Member
Messages
69
Location
Essex
I kept it hidden for a long time fearful that I'd be taken away by the men with white coats, but I can't remember a time when I didn't experience it.

I 'came out' about 10 years ago - it was a slightly sozzled after-gig party and my description of the shapes and colours were accepted with aplomb - since then, after seeing a documentary and finding out it has got a name I've discussed it with a few close musician friends all of whom find it fairly normal.

I'm not as bad as the woman on the documentary who saw things through ordinary talk, etc, mine is normally triggered by music and that has usually been a fantastic experience.

The downside was when there were pneumatic drills outside work, several car alarms going off and a discordant intermittent telephone rings; one day in summer having a beer with friends in the pub garden and the church bells for a wedding being out of synch and a couple of punk bands - these four instances made me feel really bad and ultimately physically sick :(

The upside - and I can relive these episodes like they happened yesterday - a tenor sax solo which gave me pastel-coloured 3-D confetti with butterflies and the smell of parma violets and vanilla, a trumpet player who gave me coffee/chocolate gloop and the feeling of fur and a guitar player who was autumnul colours, sharp shapes (triangles/squares) and smelled of warm buttered toast and toffee with a bit of barbecue chucked in - plus many more.

Really I am a pretty normal, fairly logical person! As no one else was talking about it I thought it would be best to keep quiet.

Now I play a little and find trying to capture the feeling of the colour and emotion of a note does help to get the effect I'm trying for.

'I felt goosebumps' and the references to blue/indigo, etc are pretty widespread aren't they?

So I'm wondering if I'm not freaky and it's a pretty normal thing - do you see or imagine colours/smells/etc when playing?
 

U CAN CALL ME AL

Senior Member
Subscriber
Messages
993
Location
Undy Monmouthshire U.K.
This is not at all unusual 'google' synaesthesia musical colour and you'll see what I mean. I have never personally experienced it but a few years ago under the influence of prescribed medication for severe pain I "felt the inside of my head had turned luminous green", this statement makes no sense at all, but to me it is the closest representation words can approximate. As a migraine sufferer I am only too aware of the physical nausea certain sounds can cause.
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
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3,627
Location
Rugby UK
All I can say is lucky you. I feel emotions when I hear something that really gets my soul, goose bumps and often tears soon follow. I like the thought of being able to see colours, smell warm and lush scents and formulate shapes or feelings. I suppose the saying "I've got a warm and fuzzy feeling" is as close as I'm going to get!
 

half diminished

Senior Member
Messages
1,361
Location
Buckinghamshire
I kept it hidden for a long time fearful that I'd be taken away by the men with white coats, but I can't remember a time when I didn't experience it.

I 'came out' about 10 years ago - it was a slightly sozzled after-gig party and my description of the shapes and colours were accepted with aplomb - since then, after seeing a documentary and finding out it has got a name I've discussed it with a few close musician friends all of whom find it fairly normal.

The upside - and I can relive these episodes like they happened yesterday - a tenor sax solo which gave me pastel-coloured 3-D confetti with butterflies and the smell of parma violets and vanilla, a trumpet player who gave me coffee/chocolate gloop and the feeling of fur and a guitar player who was autumnul colours, sharp shapes (triangles/squares) and smelled of warm buttered toast and toffee with a bit of barbecue chucked in - plus many more.

'I felt goosebumps' and the references to blue/indigo, etc are pretty widespread aren't they?

So I'm wondering if I'm not freaky and it's a pretty normal thing - do you see or imagine colours/smells/etc when playing?
Cool. The only smell around my playing... no lets not go there!

I am starting to listen deeply to music so maybe I'll develop something. I drive my wife mad sometimes. She likes to listen to 'background' music which I cannot stand. I like it loud and I like to sit quietly, often in the dark. See I'm weird too! No colours as yet though. :(

I must get myself some headphones. :w00t:
 
OP
Djangette

Djangette

Member
Messages
69
Location
Essex
All I can say is lucky you. I feel emotions when I hear something that really gets my soul, goose bumps and often tears soon follow. I like the thought of being able to see colours, smell warm and lush scents and formulate shapes or feelings. I suppose the saying "I've got a warm and fuzzy feeling" is as close as I'm going to get!
I'm not sure how lucky it is always, I know 5 people who know what I'm talking about, they're all musicians (then again I've not felt confident enough to ask 'normal' people lol) so it's not that unusual, I'm sure.

Just wondered if it was more widespread amongst musicians - I do find it easier to achieve the effect I'm trying to get when playing in my poor way by getting into the shape and colour etc ...

... I'm happy now there is a logical explanation for it.

Warm and fuzzy is good - there is an annoying chord/note combination that triggers crying in me which has nothing to do with mood or feelings from the music, it is like a switch and there's a jazz standard which does it every time, but have had it even when not really listening (like driving with radio on or having background music while working, etc). I am NOT an easy weeper and it is a tad embarrasing lol

Ohh - I feel a new topic coming on :D
 

Moz

Senior Member
Messages
841
Location
North of Liskeard, Cornwall,UK
There was a program on Radio Four a few months ago which had synaesthesia as a subject. It turns out that about 20% of people have it in some form or other. I was of the opinion before the program that Djangette had the classic and only 'symptoms' but it appears that synaesthesia is present in many forms, one of which I have.

An example explains it best:

If I think about the time of day, or the days of the week, or months of the year, I have a picture in my head of the items in an ascending order. For example, picture a white canvas. I have January at the bottom in the middle, February just above it, March above and slightly to the right, April above, then May. June however moves further into the distance with July behind and above but slightly to the right. August is closer but angled away and to the left and above July. September, October, November and December rise at a 45 degree angle up towards the left and moving further away before meeting January which miraculously appears back at the bottom. If anyone mentions a month or a day of the week or time of the day, it immediately appears to have a 'position' in my minds eye which allows me to relate it to where we are now and what the intervening period consists of and 'where' those periods sit.

All things I see in my head as having a certain position.

I have spoken to several people in the light of the radio program and there are people who just know August as August or Tuesday as just a day. My wife thinks I'm nuts but other people have said that they have their own 'positions' for things.

Cheers

Moz
 

Chris Jones

Member
Messages
678
Location
Lichfield, Staffordshire.
Now that drings out the song in me.


Picture yourself in a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes

Cellophane flowers of yellow and green
Towering over your head
Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes
And she's gone

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Aaaaahhhhh...
:welldone
 
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