Synesthesia, et al.

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by cometazzi, Jun 19, 2021.

  1. cometazzi

    cometazzi Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    If you've never heard the term, wikipedia describes it as:

    "Synesthesia (American English) or synaesthesia (British English) is a perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway."

    It's different for everyone, but the most commonly reported one is perceiving certain 'colors' or 'shades' to letters and numbers.

    For me, it's different. I get a visual representation of sounds in the "mind's eye" - all sounds, including music. I could go into more detail if someone is interested, but for the most part it is streaming lights and glowing shapes over a dark background. It's down to the point where my mind actually records sounds and music this way- If you name a song I've heard before, I recall it (first) by what it looks like and then I can hear the sound(s). I recognize guitar tones visually, not by sound. It's hard to describe.

    There has lately been a surge of young musicians citing synesthesia as their 'superpower', allowing them to see every note as a different color and empowering them to build complex musical compositions using "the mind's eye".

    I'm not so lucky. At most my synesthesia helps me identify musical intervals. 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, 7ths, etc. I can tell you what interval something is but I can't tell you what notes they are. It wasn't until my 30s that I learned not everyone else 'sees sounds' like I do. I don't really get any 'superpower' out of it, but it definitely gives me a different channel to experience and/or enjoy music.

    Oh, and I also get a visual representation to physical stimuli and tastes. So I have mental imagery for different foods and things like rubbing my skin, hair, or pinching, etc.

    Does anyone here have any experience with synesthesia, or any stories to tell?
     
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  2. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    would it make sense to them to have a colour coded keyboard?....
     
  3. RoscoeElegante

    RoscoeElegante Friend of Leo's

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    Great thread, cometazzi!

    The pianist I often play with is routinely amused by me saying "Let's make that part more yellow, wisping--to the left--into gray splotches that fall apart."

    Or "Can we bronze up that bass line right there?" And "Those drums--not enough flashes of neon down a rainy alleyway on the snare, don't you think?"

    He talks to me in gibberish. Beats, measures, 16th notes, chromatics, octaves, intervals, inversions, syncopation, blahblahblah. But I'm making sense! Music is all color, texture, mood, scene, and analogy to me. Probably because I can't do math to save my life.

    Luckily, he gets my necessarily synesthesiac and metaphoric approach to all this, and we work together very well. He's a Math professor who used to be an English professor, so he bridges many worlds.

    Another bandmate, the violinist/fiddle player, puts things in terms of relationships: "Oh, so like a guy coming home to find someone parked in his driveway." "Oh, so like a parent wondering where their kid is." And the mandolin player needs to hear similar songs to get what you're talking about it, and has to riff and riff to find her way into something patterned.

    It's fascinating, the different ways that people perceive, communicate about, and create music.
     
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  4. TG

    TG Doctor of Teleocity

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    I'm 59 and was identified as being somewhere on the autistic spectrum about 5 years ago, so I've done a lot of thinking and self-observing about it.
    Synesthesia is part of the experience.

    I 'see' numbers in my mind in an odd way that I can't explain, and until I 'see' someone's or some thing's name in my mind I cant say it.
    There's a visual aspect to my playing as well that is similar to how I think of numbers, and if a tune or phrase is in my mind I 'see' it in a way I can't describe...and can then play it on a guitar immediately. But if I try to work a song out logically it's very difficult...and if I try to say out loud what the next chord is in a song while playing...it's all gone and the fretboard becomes a meaningless grid of lines.

    So for me there's some sort of mixup in my brain's visual and speech functions.

    Pros are the way I can play music and can 'see' solutions to practical problems others can't (I might have made a good engineer or architect, apparently).

    Cons are all the misunderstandings and general life difficulties it caused for 5 decades...
     
  5. cometazzi

    cometazzi Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I'm 46 and have never been tested for autism, but many people whom I've known have suggested that I do so. It would have been nice to address it when I was younger, but I guess I don't know what good it would do now that I'm all old and decrepit.
     
  6. TG

    TG Doctor of Teleocity

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    It's up to you, but in mine and other's experience it tends to be helpful in understanding yourself and how your life happened.
    Also, in situations like airport security or dealing with police telling them you are asbergers or autistic and may have difficulty communicating can help a lot. In my experience they understand and allow you to take a moment to find your words. Otherwise, your autistic behaviour can easily be interpreted as a neuro-typical person intentionally being difficult and uncooperative...which can cause anger and aggression.
    Which makes it even worse.
     
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  7. kafka

    kafka Tele-Afflicted

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    The first time I heard of this was the composer Michael Torke, whose early compositions were based on his experiences with synesthesia. I saw the premier of this by the BSO back around 1990. This was pretty exciting music after so much minimalism in the 80s.



     
  8. Willie Johnson

    Willie Johnson Tele-Afflicted

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    Jimi Hendrix supposedly perceived music that way--hard to argue to the contrary when you listen to the lyrics of "Bold as Love."
     
  9. Crafty Fox

    Crafty Fox Tele-Afflicted

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    I disagree; I wasn't diagnosed as being Aspergers (high functioning autism) till I turned 60!
    Too late to save my marriage (that's why I was seeing the psyche) but the knowledge will hopefully help to avoid future relationship issues.
    So, how's that for optimism? :D
     
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  10. dlew919

    dlew919 Doctor of Teleocity

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    I’ve experienced once I think. The first time I heard the ‘all along the watchtower’ solo (hendrix) I saw a purple stream. I was not high. I have never done drugs or alcohol.


    I do talk in terms of brown and white sounds. Or red whatever. I don’t think I’m synasthetic.
     
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  11. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Silver Supporter

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    This seems like perhaps too many of the wrong mushrooms at an earlier age.:twisted:
     
  12. edvard

    edvard Friend of Leo's

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    I don't have synesthesia, but different tones do evoke imagery, like when people describe a clean tone as "glassy", or a mildly distorted tone as having "chewy" mids, those make total sense to me (don't ask about "haunting" mids, I don't know anything about that. Feedback, however...). I've described my favorite high-gain tone as "a chainsaw ripping through a stack of blue jeans" or a great overdriven tone sounding like "playing guitar with a hand full of gravel". It happens all the time.
     
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  13. Hey_you

    Hey_you Tele-Afflicted

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    I had read recently something on this.It was about a young singer. She answered associating colors for the tones she hears. She hears in colors. I cannot remember the question, but she answered her instructor "purple". I am thinking the question had to do with the tone sounding warm or something like that.
     
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  14. cometazzi

    cometazzi Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Funny that, I seem to be bad at relationships. Mostly because we each misinterpret or misunderstand the other's emotional state.
     
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  15. Crafty Fox

    Crafty Fox Tele-Afflicted

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    Yes, exactly!
    We were the same. The Aspergers diagnosis was a shock, but not a surprise.
    I'd often wondered if my brain was wired a little different (like Peter Green's famous Les Paul; I'm out-of-phase:cool:). There are many benefits and that's what I focus on, and I now know to take more care in how I converse.
    You are not alone, my friend.
     
  16. cometazzi

    cometazzi Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I guess I should tell you my childhood story of being written off as "retarded" in grade school.
     
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  17. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I got it!

    [​IMG]
     
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