Individuals Suffering From Grapheme Synesthesia Experience What?
Answer: Sounds as Colors
Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which an individual experiences sensory inputs with the sensory processing centers of a different sense. The most common form of synesthesia is known as Grapheme Synesthesia and involves cross communication between auditory and visual centers such that those afflicted by it report associating sounds such as music, voices, and environmental noises with colors.
If you are having a hard time visualizing exactly what a person with Grapheme Synesthesia experiences, it might help to hear from some famous synesthetes. Musician Billy Joel described his synesthesia as such:
I would say the softer, more intimate songs–there’s ‘Lullaby (Goodnight My Angel)’, ‘And So It Goes,’ ‘Vienna’ and another called, ‘Summer, Highland Falls’–when I think of different types of melodies which are slower or softer, I think in terms of blues or greens…When I [see] a particularly vivid color, it’s usually a strong melodic, strong rhythmic pattern that emerges at the same time. When I think of these songs, I think of vivid reds, oranges and golds.
Other musicians that have grapheme synesthesia include jazz composer Marian McPartland, Tori Amos, Duke Ellington, Stevie Wonder, and Mary J. Blige–clearly there’s something to be said for hearing the world in color.