Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Synesthesia in music

I had a stint in ambient music a few days ago and I stumbled upon Devin Townsend's ambient albums. One of the comments on the YouTube video for Untitled 06 off of DevLab struck me:
spasticcolon9 I swear, listening to this album gives me hardcore synthesesia. halfway through the second song I see it as much as I hear it
Synesthesia as defined by Wikipedia is: "a neurologically-based condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway."

It essentially means that people can see music's color, taste a feeling on their skin, or taste sounds. This got me to thinking about if this is present in other music. Especially with sample heavy music such as Burial, DJ Shadow, there is definitely an ambiance that is created, and if you close your eyes, you can almost see the splashes of colour. Or at least that's how it is for me.

There's actually a video with Dev where he says he uses D'Addario strings because they sound more silver and blue rather than dark purple. At 1:35:

Especially for his softer stuff, you can see the colors and almost feel the shapes. For example, I feel that the title-track for Ki, has a very purple feel to it.

Compare this to almost all of his Strapping Young Lad songs, which have a red tinge to them.

The structure and tempo of songs translate to shape and space also. This is more apparent in progressive music than popular music with traditional song structure. For example, And You and I by Yes starts small and pointy, then grows larger, taller and smoother.

I will definitely look into this idea more as I keep listening...