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Sunday, January 11, 2009

A color curiosity

Color synesthesia has always intrigued me. I've read about people who identify musical notes by color, but I've never met anyone who has this capability. Recently I ran across the term "grapheme color synesthesia," which refers to the ability to perceive letters and numbers as colors. Wikipedia has an article that describes this phenomenon from the point of view of several people who experience it. I always thought it would be confusing to have color sensations while reading or speaking, but most synesthetes are comfortable with it and sometimes use colors as memory prompts for names and words.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Stephanie Lynn Keil said...

I have autism which has resulted in my synesthesia. People with autism have trouble with language and attaching language to emotions (among other things). My emotions, such as happy, sad, etc. are like abstract paintings (accompanied with music) in my head. Whenever I feel something I get an abstract painting in my head that is fluid and moving -- with music! This is why it is impossible for me to express what I am thinking with words. Other people with autism have stated they have similar experiences, though not everyone with autism does this, so don't think that.

Temple Grandin, who has autism, wrote the book, "Thinking in Pictures" in which she attempts to explain how her autistic mind (though not necessarily every autistic mind) works. She (like me) thinks completely in pictures, like photographs, with a complete absence of words. I always thought everyone was like me but now that I'm older I know differently.

Anyway, I identify different musical sounds (like piano, cello, etc.) with color, texture and movement, emotions with color/music and a few other oddities.

Cello music is a black, velvety line that swirls in response to the music; piano music is light blue dots and etc.

P.S. I love your books by the way!

8:23 PM  
Blogger Nita said...

Thanks for your interesting comment. I didn't know there is sometimes a connection between autism and synesthesia. In your case, it doesn't seem to interfere with your ability to communicate. Out of curiosity, may I ask how you see a clarinet sound in music? My son plays the clarinet and would find this interesting. (He is the author of "Music and the Soul.")

2:11 PM  

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