Friday, September 11, 2015


Have you ever noticed, perhaps while listening to music, that sometimes the music has colors, visible patterns, or textures?  Do you happen to see letters in color?  Does Pi look like a beautiful landscape?
Go visit Li's web comic, you won't be disappointed!

These are all forms of a rather abnormal thing known as Synesthesia.  Strictly speaking, Synesthesia is when a stimulus that wouldn't normally produce a given sensation produces said sensation.  Any of the above are fair examples, as are many others. 

Maybe you've thought this was a completely normal occurrence that everyone experiences.  It's not, and according to some studies, it could be pretty rare.  Then again, it's not commonly tested for, so that's definitely throwing the curve off.  It's also pretty hard to quantify these sorts of things. 

Which is why I'm going to speak from anecdote here, since it's what I have to work with.  I believe I have a rather mild form of synesthesia, typically relating to music/noise producing patterns/colors/feelings in my head. 
Angel Vivaldi's 'A Mercurian Summer' basically sounds like
this album cover feels, in an over-simplified example.
I'm not sure there's a much better way to explain it, so I've taken the liberty of drawing you fine folks a picture, which I drew over a couple days, listening to all sorts of music.  But first, the hard work.  I sharpened the colored pencils I used by hand, into a paper plate.  The shavings kinda reminded me of music, and looked kinda cool in general, so I thought I'd also take a picture of that.  Again, synesthesia is odd.  Looking at this plate of shavings, I get a similar feeling in my head as I do
 listening to some kinds of music. 

Look at those colorful shavings on that round plate with those round designs.
It kinda reminds me of a song. Well, more than one actually, but something like that.

For example, that paper plate, with those colorfully confetti-like attributes, spotting the surface like the simple shavings they are, have a wonderfully staccato feel.  Although, they're not entirely staccato, the colors also kinda correlate to various heights in this sense, where yellow feels much higher in elevation than red, and the black feels abstract, and the circles feel like orbits.  Or something like that.  The circles are pulled in by the valleys and crests that the tiny little flakes of flow create.  It's a colorful feeling, but the feeling isn't as colorful in my head.  Each color has a direction, a flow, much like segments of music. 

Basically, that music feels like that paper plate looks, in a way.  It doesn't tell the whole story, but it gives a snapshot.  Sometimes the colors form waves, or lines of color move in certain directions, or various sensations of distance, all in beautiful neon maelstroms, chaotic but structured.

This leads me to the final picture.  Again, as stated, I drew this over the course of a few days.  First I drew the plain pencil parts, while listening to all the various sorts of music I enjoy.  This particular sort of line drawing was a habit I picked up in middle school or so, and I think it's been related since then or before.  The lines represent the directions my mind feels, the overall shape of a given area therefore dictated by the force directions, creating neat patterns.  Then I colored it in, truest to the color I could find in the box of 12 (hey, for a dollar, I'm not complaining).  Sometimes completely different pieces of music have a very similar color feel or direction feel or space feel.  In summary, this is mostly my impression of music I like.
How music feels to me, in a snapshot. 

See how it originates from the outside, and is absorbed and congealed into a mass, inside my head.  Often times the outside colors are really quite different from how they mingle inside.  This is how the music I enjoy feels, agglomerated into one picture.  The beats set the spacing, in some cases.  In other cases the lyricism (verbal and instrumental) sets the tone.  Sometimes a particular melody sounds especially interesting, and creates a long pathway of meandering wanderlust. 

This also gets into why I don't like a lot of the music I don't like, but perhaps that's a conversation for next time, when I plan to discuss two things related to this: Misophonia and ASMR.


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