Listening to the Literal Blues


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While struggling to come up with topics to blog about, I listened to music.  After losing focus and starting to pay ore attention to the music, I found my topic: Synesthesia.  Synesthesia is when multiple senses respond to an outside stimulus.  There are many different types of this sensation including grapheme to color, where people see letters and numbers as being certain colors, personification, where words and numbers are given "personalities", and sound to color, where people associate certain colors with certain types of music.

            I'm going to talk about Sound to Color Synesthesia, because that's the one that I experience, and have experienced since I was a child.  I never really thought about it until recently.  I thought I found the explanation for why I hear "blue" songs and "orange" songs, in that songs have different keys.  A song in the key of A Major sounds different form a song in the key of B minor.  Before I started playing the saxophone in sixth grade, I would have said the two examples were "silver" and "blue", respectively.  However, knowing why the songs sounded different didn't make the colors go away.  Songs in Bb still sound "black" and songs in Eb still sound "orange" to me (these aren't the colors that everyone with this type of Synesthesia see in response to these keys, these are just what I happened to see.  I discussed this with my piano teacher and he said that it was because I had the Synesthesia condition.  Has this changed my life immensely? Not really, because, as I said before, I knew this was happening, I just never looked into it enough to try describing what I'm seeing in words. 

            So how exactly does this work?  Well, first of all, not everyone is a synesthete.  I mean, you might end up seeing the colors I described earlier in those selected keys, but probably only because I said that I saw them, and you'll probably try to see them, but it wouldn't be the same.  The answer would be that scientists aren't exactly sure just yet. This article (CNN) says that it could be a genetic phenomenon.  Some say it comes from drugs (I don't take drugs).  Wikipedia brings up "cross activation" of different sensory mechanisms at once.

To learn more, This video on YouTube sums it up pretty well.  Does anyone else have Synesthesia?  If so, what kind?  What are your experiences like?  Let me know in the comments!

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