experiencing the world of sound through more than your ears. What if
you could "see" sound?
Billy Joel has said he is hit with a kaleidoscope of colors when he
hears music. Blues and greens wash his mind when he hears a soothing
ballad. He envisions rhythmically stronger songs in fiery red, orange
and gold. Joel has said he considers this cross-sensory perception a
gift that helps inspire his creativity.
The name for
this experience is "synesthesia," founded in the Greek words
for "together" and "senses." Jazz great Duke
Ellington would sense the musical note "D" as dark blue
burlap and the bright "G" as light blue satin. The names of
musicians Tori Amos, Sting and Itzhak Perlman, and actress Marilyn
Monroe and actor Geoffrey Rush are noted as possible synesthetes.
Someone who experiences synesthesia may also associate letters or
numbers with certain colors as well.
imagine that having a dual sensory experience would expand the
boundaries of creativity," says Dr. Joav Kofman, a neurologist
with Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare. But he also notes that random
studies into this little-known phenomenon suggest you donít have to
be creative or famous to experience synesthesia, with as many as 1 in
20 people associating numbers, letters, words or sounds with colors.
how it works: "When we are born our brains are still getting
wired. There is a lot of cross talking between brain cells. As we get
older our focus becomes more directed. But for some people that cross
thalamus in your brain the filter for that cross talk. When chemical
and electrical impulses are sent to the brain, the thalamus decides
which impulses get sent where. For instance, a letter, number or sound
will either go to the left or right side of the brain. If you have
synesthesia, the information will also wind up in the back of your
brain where you interpret colors. This liberal filtering of
neurological information is probably genetic. You are simply
hard-wired that way.