Very occasionally, I have received comments from people asking me if I’m synesthetic, meaning that I can see sound as colours and shapes. In one way, I suppose I can, but I don’t want to claim that I have synesthesia just because I perceive sound slightly visually.
The sensations aren’t strong either, they’re very vague. I don’t think my brain is special, but my view on visualising through sound is, I suppose; at least among music producers.
Yet again, the language learning metaphor serves a purpose here. When I say the word “car”, you envision a car. If you hear an engine go “vroom”, you imagine a car. If you hear a horn honk, you imagine a car. If I say “four wheels, engine”, you imagine a car.
Music is far more abstract and ambiguous than the example above, but I think it’s possible to have a similar chain of events, as when I said the word “car”.
Which senses can be used in music making?
The traditional five senses are as follows:
Wikipedia mentions other senses, including some cool ones we don’t have, like electroreception and magnetoception. We do have the power to imagine, guess and describe them though, so maybe imagination is a sense too?
It might be difficult to grasp from a music point of view, but think about it from the perspective of books. You need to see the words written, or hear them spoken to you. That’s the 1st level of sensory use; real life more or less.
The 2nd level involves what you’re imagining. When you’re immersed in a well-written book, your imagination can easily engage any of the senses; not directy on the 1st level, but imagined at the 2nd level. The author’s descriptions enable you to imagine what he wants you to hear, see, touch, smell and taste.
Stories and experiences, rather than a bunch of semi-coherent sounds
Communication in electronic music is immensly important, and it’s much more fun for both you and your listeners. Rather than thinking of a bunch of clever words on the subject, I recommend reading the following if you are interested:
- Are genres holding you back?
- Don’t re-tell jokes
- Words aren’t for the ears, they’re for the mind
- It’s important to pick a good title
- Music production vs. language learning
Music is an abstract language, but it’s very well suited for sharing experiences, just like a book. Remember to engage all your senses when coming up with ideas and composing. Some body language also helps quite a bit.
How do you involve your senses into your music? Do you have any experience with synesthesia?