This probably sounds pretty wacky to people who don’t experience this. I mean, how can somebody “hear” something that’s just in their heads? But for me, these pitches are not just random occurrences; they are clues to that person’s personality, and perhaps even their soul. I call them “soul notes.”
Detecting Soul Notes
My perfect pitch likely helps a lot in this, but it seems to be an automatic, possibly instinctive process to pick up on someone else’s soul note.
For instance, when I met my boyfriend for the first time, I heard, clearly and distinctly within my head, a high B, as if played controlled and soft on a stringed and bowed instrument. This matches his quiet mien, his way of carrying himself, but it also matches how he approaches life–with utmost self-control and logic. The key of B is gentle and subtle, but definitively “there.”
By contrast, when I hang out with one of our mutual friends, a very boisterous (and funny) person, the brassy trumpet-like sound of an F is in my ears, at a barely-conscious level, the whole time. F is a key of celebration to me, a key of joy–but also a key of solidity and strength. While our friend may be a little loud and wild at times, he is also a steadfast buddy and a family man at heart.
As for my own soul note? Well, it’s been quite a bit harder to hear than others’, but I believe my soul note to be C-sharp (aka D-flat). It is a very deep, “original”-sounding tone, almost foundational, and it can both fade into the background as well as sound itself loud.
Soul Notes as Predictors of How I Get Along With Others
It’s funny how the harmony or dissonance of these perceived notes seems to predict how another person and I will get along together. My boyfriend’s soul note and mine are a major-second interval apart (B and C-sharp)–they could strike against each other in disharmony, and yet when played together, they form a shimmering duet of each not overpowering the other.
Our boisterous mutual friend, on the other hand, reacts with my boyfriend differently than me. B and F pull against each other a bit more, creating the framework of a B-diminished chord; C-sharp and F are a major-third interval apart, more harmonic. It’s weird; I sometimes understand our mutual buddy better, understanding possibly why he gets mad or frustrated, while my boyfriend can be puzzled by his reactions to situations.
Usually, other people’s soul notes interact with mine on first meeting, and then get stronger as I continue to be around them. A person I met a few months ago had an indisputable A-flat (G-sharp) soul note, which sounded harmoniously but hollowly with my C-sharp. Being a fifth apart, it had the potential to either be a major chord or a minor chord, to either have a happy sound or a sad sound. This interaction mirrored how we got along–we were usually in accord, but there always was a little tension, as if we were both waiting for the other person to disagree.
How I Use These Notes
Initially, I use these notes as another clue to the person, doing my best to harmonize with them not only verbally, but subconsciously. As I get to know people, however, I’ve also been able to write and perform piano music that “represents” people in my life, writing how I “hear” their note (and eventually a melody) in my mind. (Most famously, I wrote a representative song for my boyfriend, about a month and a half before he became my boyfriend… 😉 )
I write and play these songs because they are great ways to honor friends and family. It’s not always a love song, but simply a “This is what you sound like to me” song.
Most people are either amused or weirded out when I tell them of this ability, because it is so unusual–I’ve never heard of anybody being able to do this, or of others even being aware of musical tones in their heads. It’s not like I’m hearing voices or anything, but it is a very cool phenomenon. I like to think of it as just one of the ways God is making my life unique and fun. 🙂