Meet Wheeler Manis, from the United States:
“My sound-color synesthesia happens, of course, when I hear music. Sometimes people’s voices have distinct "shapes" to them, and when I was a kid I used to be very good at imitations, because all I had to do was match that shape with my mouth, and it worked! Sometimes noises have colors and shapes, a great example is a marching snare (Although I'm a precussionist, beats and drums mostly don't give me a response whatsoever), which looks like a very sharp knife that cuts straight down my skull. I don't like marching music very much, as a result.”
“Sounds and music have colors, shapes, and directions. Certain musical notes are played on instruments that have textures, and so certain shapes are fuzzy, or hard, or like sandpaper. Acoustic Guitars have no shape, only color--same as pianos. When you put certain effects on guitars, I can see the texture, like feedback results in fuzziness and “wah-wah's” give the colors the impression of bending. Many instruments, when they hold notes for a long time, give the impression of "sweeping,” like moving from one side to the other and getting wider and more vibrant.”
“My experience is that most musical notes do have color, just most don't actively produce a response. I have to concentrate on certain sounds to see them, while others happen immediately and float up to the top of my consciousness. Sometimes I use my hands to "act out" whatever the music is doing, because certain notes have directions through space. Some of the Electric Six's guitar parts and effects start low, and then explode straight upwards. Some of Black Sun Empires synthesizers come from the top right or left of my vision and make quick, sweeping motions towards the center. It's a very 3-dimensional experience, and often people ask me if it affects my ability to drive, especially because I listen to music so much in the car. It's hard to explain where these colors and shapes show up; I've chosen to describe it as a second layer of consciousness. I've heard it described as being seen by one's "minds eye", which might be a better descriptor. It's not something you see with your eyes, far from it. It's experienced in your head, and many people have even more vibrant experiences with their eyes closed (I don't, for me it’s the same either way.)”
“I have not read about many people who see shapes three-dimensionally as I do, which is a shame, because to me that's the coolest part. The band N.E.R.D. came out with a song or album recently that they claimed they wrote for people who have this, because when they heard about it they wanted to write some music that when people like me saw it, we'd see a concert. They completely misunderstood the nature of synesthasia, because it's impossible (in my experience) to track down something that has a specific effect. I'm under the impression that some are contextual, because if a song has a certain color, let’s say pink, then some sound effect that other songs might use would, in this song, be pink like the rest of the soundscape. "Soundscape" is a very good word to describe the plane of shapes and colors, I think, because each experience takes on a terrain of its own.”
“The last thing I experience from sounds is feelings, which I think are very closely tied to the color aspect of songs. I am by no means a depressive person, quite the opposite really. However, certain songs have these terrible auras about them, and they feel like sadness or cheapness or some other feeling you wouldn’t want to feel. I can't listen to certain types or genres of music because I can fall into a lasting depression from long exposure. I really, really hate Green Day. There are very rare songs which I can identify as pure emotions, and so far I've found two. Black Sun Empire's "Don't you" was the first, which struck me like a train when I heard it, because I could only think of one thing: Hate. Now, it’s easy for me to mislead you on what affects my emotions, because you might think that a song that feels like "hate" would probably put me in a bad mood, but it doesn’t. It’s tough to describe what exactly sets the feeling part off, but I don't think it's directly related to normal sets of feelings.”
Shocked? Astonished? Well, you better be jealous, because this isn’t something everyone can do! Imagine seeing music, actually seeing it, and being able to wave your hands to follow the colors streaking across your vision…But, of course, as Wheeler mentions, it does have a few side-effects, so Green Day had better hope the synesthetic population remains small, or who knows what would happen?
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