When you hear a piece of music, do you see color in your head? Do you taste something in your mouth? Do you sense a texture to the music you are hearing? Does the key of G major create a luscious deep claret red hue to spread over your mind's eye?
Well, music does all those things to me. For me, music is multi-faceted experience. I don't just hear a piece of music, I see undulating, swirling colors. I taste the music in my mouth. I perceive a texture to certain chords.
Music isn't not just an auditory experience. It is visual. It is tactile.
This phenomenon that I am describing of myself is called synesthesia:
Synesthesia is a condition in which one sense (for example, hearing) is simultaneously perceived as if by one or more additional senses such as sight. Another form of synesthesia joins objects such as letters, shapes, numbers or people's names with a sensory perception such as smell, color or flavor.
The clearer and truer the note, the more vivid and beautiful (or terrifying) will the colored result be to my mind. A singer who possess that coveted trueness of pitch, clearness of voice will spark within in me a verdant landscape filled with life and death. As an example the singer David Phelps is extremely talented. He is capable of creating magnificent colors inside my mind when I hear him sing. The singer/songwriter Twila Paris especially in her earlier CDs created clear crystallized colors on the inside.
There are very good reasons that I do not listen to Christian rock or anything with electric guitar or loud drums. For besides being painful to my ears, electric guitars create black, snarling, monster like images in my mind. They taste awful, like oil, like dirt, like darkness. There is no light in electric guitars, there is no beauty perceived by my mind. The texture is like static on a radio. It fills my mind's eye. I can't think when I hear it, I can't breathe well. It truly makes me very sad to hear it.
Oh, but classical music, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, those men knew music. The things I see, the colors and textures I perceive. I do not doubt that some of the greatest composers also perceived color and sound in the way I do.
In the past few days I have attempted to write down the musical pieces that I hear playing in my head. They are original. They are a product of the trauma the Lyme pressed on my mind. In truth some are whole orchestral arrangements. However writing those is beyond my knowledge at this time. Yet I won't say that I wouldn't ever try to write an orchestral piece. But right now I content myself with writing out the songs I hear on my piano.
I know I have come across the correct combination of notes, when the colors in my head align suddenly and become startlingly vivid and real, both lovely and scary at once. Were it possible I would compose a song by painting the successive colors it produces, however I want to see what it looks like written in a musical score.
I know the note of C by the sky blue hues it rings out. The higher the note the lighter the color of blue. The darker the note the deeper and less clear the color of blue. D just above middle C is verdant green, the color of grass after a rain. A is yellow as of the sunshine or a happy banana. B is rather scary. I do not trust B as much. It is a note to use when you are unsure. B is orangey brown, even in its higher notes it remains darker than the rest. The key of B makes me feel unsure, a little uneasy. I have heard lovely pieces written in the key of B. Yet somehow I remain wary of it. F is a very textural note. It creates a fuzzy image, not in that it is unclear, rather it is fuzzy because it is just fuzzy. I don't perceive a color so readily with F, it is much more a texture. If I had to give it a color my instinct would say that a cold whitish gray would be appropriate. I trust F more than B. E makes me happy. The key of E is a joyful sound. E is pink and light. I have mentioned the key of G already as possessing a deep red. G makes me feel safe, grounded, whole. The key of G is my favorite over the rest.
Making a note sharp or flat doesn't change how I perceive the note a great deal. However when one places all of these notes in chords and arrangements, the resulting colors are greater than the ones I have just described. It is akin to mixing watercolors and swirling the all together. Some of the colors meld and create a new color altogether, some are diluted and become weaker, dimmer, some become darker when mixed with another.
This is a taste of how I perceive music. The same rules cross over into choral music of which I greatly love as well. The Cambridge Singers with John Rutter and the Choir of the King's College are among my favorite choirs to listen to. I adore old church music because it retains in it order and logic to its chord progressions. There is not overt predictability. The score is not following a cookie cutter chord progression as in praise music of this era. It retains doctrine within its words. I do not mean to say that the music itself is to be worshiped but within old hymns runs a current of awe and holiness for God and His terrible might that I personally do not find translated in modern praise music. In all honesty, although it is written with good intentions, modern praise music is not my first choice of worship music.
I always will default back to the hymns. They are the songs that come to me when I'm alone. They are tried and true friends.
This is summary of how I experience music. In regards to synesthesia I see certain numbers with a certain colors, words have certain tastes, and certain letters are more friendly than others. My day to day experiences are perhaps a bit more complex than some. But all these things are a gift from God. I am grateful for them all.
To God be the Glory.