I did not care about music most of my life and suddenly I saw colors as was listening in person to “Isku” BiraciJr Yawanawá sing and play the guitar. I saw the music in beautiful waves coming out of his mouth and his guitar and growing and moving all around the room and through me. I saw music “touch” my skin and could feel it change me in real time. It was one of the most extraordinary experiences I have ever had.
Since then I started to learn to sing and play the guitar myself. It’s the most humbling learning as it is tough and takes years. It doesn’t come easily for me but I am hooked. I don’t “see” music all the time (I wish!) but it happens and it definitely got me to spend more and more time learning music.
Synesthesia is a known phenomenon. It is a “joining of the senses” in this case sound and vision. Here is a good TED Talk by Jamie Delves who says “we were all born with synesthesia but lost most of it”. It’s about the connection between art and music. It’s quite fascinating. The talk talks about an artist painting people’s voices. Here is another speaker talking about how she always associates letters and numbers to colors. Another fascinating talk is about a person that sees different color clouds each time she or anyone talks.
Pharell said he attributed his success in music to his synesthesia and how he “sees” music.
In her excellent newsletter Maria Popova writes about “Only the lover sings” with this quote about Bach from Josef Pieper
Not only is music one of the most amazing and mysterious phenomena of all the world’s miranda, the things that make us wonder (and, therefore, the formal subject of any philosopher…) [but] music may be nothing but a secret philosophizing of the soul… yet, with the soul entirely oblivious, that philosophy, in fact, is happening here… Beyond that, and above all, music prompts the philosopher’s continued interest because it is by its nature so close to the fundamentals of human existence.
My friend Waël Mechri-Yver recommended me to read this book, which is on my list. The Mysticism of Sound and Music: The Sufi Teaching of Hazrat Inayat Khan
Have you ever had experiences of synesthesia?