Oops, I Tripped Balls #1 – Intro to Synesthesia

Thanks to faulty wiring, it doesn’t take a tab of acid, or even half a mug of shroom tea for my brain to wander off. Synesthesia, from the ancient Greek words syn (together) and aisthesis (to perceive) is a phenomenon when people’s senses effectively spill over into one another. Some Synesthetes can smell words; some can hear the taste of gravy – but my brain seems to think it knows what music looks like.

This blog is an attempt to document my delusions and illusions for your amusement.

This Week: Intro to Synesthesia

About 1 in 2000 people have synesthesia, and around 0.3% of all synesthetes share my music-colour type. Basically, musical notes have specific and unchanging colours, shapes and behaviours. For example, a high-pitched staccato synth or string section is bright yellow, long and thin and moves very fast, stabbing in rhythm to the music. A low and undulating bassline is a smooth, thick liquid with a deep purple/blue colour. Basslines usually sink to the bottom, hence the term ‘drop da bass.’

I first indulged this abnormality in my A level Art course by painting the Gorillaz’ album Plastic Beach. The idea was to listen to each track individually, painting what each one looked like. I then mashed them all together to create a full picture of the album, so to speak.

This is the result:

Luke's Plastic Beach

Its difficult to get into a painting the movement and development of these hallucinations. Now, a few years later, I think that maybe a blog would be a better way to describe them, though I may need to learn some more adjectives.

In a kind of self-analytical way, I’m interested to start deliberately poking my brain with a stick rather than remaining the passive witness to this phenomenon. Hopefully it’ll also be interesting for you as you follow my descent into madness week by week.

Next week I’m going to be tripping balls to Arctic monkeys new album, AM.