Last year, I referred to colors and music as being completely intertwined in my head–it’s a positive condition known as synesthesia, or as I like to refer to it, my “brain feature.” Every time I listen to music, my inner sight explodes in colors; it has always been this way, even when I was a very little girl and wasn’t as involved with the production of music as I am these days.
Though I’ve shared this particular picture with you before, here is my complete, colored piano scale, created by my combination of perfect pitch and synesthesia:
This pitch-color connection is an instantaneous response to music, something I don’t have to think about to “see;” it’s just there. And today, I thought I’d share some of that experience, in the form of created images capturing the colors of various musical chords.
(Before we begin, please excuse the relatively low artistic quality of these images; I can’t quite seem to recapture exactly how each chord “looks” to me when it is played, but I have done my best. :P)
To me, B-flat, whether major or minor, has always had a little shade of darkness to it on the “left” side of the pitch; it’s not sad or evil darkness, just kind of shaded. Here, the B-flat major chord is described, with shadowy teal, light blue, and bright green (B-flat, D, and F, respectively).
The 80s called and said they want their pastel palette back. LOL! This is how B minor looks in my head–a wash of lilac and white in the background (the note of B, with the lightness of the major chord), with a little light blue (D) and deep blue-green (F-sharp) mixed in. It’s a gracefully beautiful key, but also somewhat reserved and icy-feeling.
C major has always appeared bright and colorful in my head–almost too colorful! The golden-yellow C, the pale pink E, and the bright red G are a bit jarring together; this color combination is probably why I associate C major with childhood, especially toys. But you can’t say C major isn’t cheerful enough! 😛
In stark contrast to the brightness of C major, C minor has always seemed broodingly dark, even a little slinky, especially with the red of G combined with the red-orange of E-flat and the gold-to-black gradient in the background. (The added darkness in the background is nearly always present in my head when minor chords are played, excepting B minor.)
This is the only key for which very bright silver sparkles appear scattered across the background; I’ve done a poor imitation here, but this gives some idea. The bright green of F and the rich blue of A-flat do not overpower the deep violet and silvery shimmer of the background, which is possibly one reason this is my favorite key to hear music in.
I love both the major and minor keys of C-sharp, and with good reason–the tones are beautiful, as are the color combinations in my head. In its minor form, C-sharp’s violet is darker, with less emphasis on the sparkles in the background, and the light-pink E adds a more monochromatic dimension to the chord color. I can become wrapped in the chord very easily…it’s melancholy and yet beautiful.
F major, like C major, is very bright and happy, with the off-white A and deep golden C accenting the vibrant green F. It feels festive and unapologetic, which might be one reason I’ve always associated the key of F major with celebrations and lots of people.
Can’t miss G major! :O What an explosion of nearly-patriotic colors, with the powerful red G, soft lavender B, and bright blue D. This key feels energetic and powerful, even when it’s used for an easygoing song–I guess it’s all that red. xD (Odd fact: as American as this particular chord palette looks, it’s interesting to note that our national anthem is usually sung in A-flat major instead of G major. Oh well, there’s no accounting for my brain’s sound-color associations!)
To Learn More About Synesthesia