Synesthesia, as defined, is a “neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.”
A lot of famous artists and musicians are synesthetes. Pharrell Williams is one, which explains why one of his albums with his group N*E*R*D is called “Seeing Sounds.” People like Tori Amos, Billy Joel, Eddie Van Halen, Kanye West and Charli XCX have similar conditions wherein music has color, even though there are multiple forms of synesthesia.
Recently, a painter by the name of Melissa S McCracken has been going viral, as her paintings display her experience with synesthesia. “As a synesthete, the music I hear is translated into a flow of texture and colors,” she explains.
She describes it as, “although not disorientating, [synesthesia] can sometimes leave me at odds trying to describe what I can see to others.” On her bio she even explains how she thought everyone has it.
“Until I was 15, I thought everyone constantly saw colors. Colors in books, colors in math formulas, colors at concerts. But when I finally asked my brother which color the letter C was (canary yellow, by the way) I realized my mind wasn’t quite as normal as I had thought.”
She’s not only lived with it – she makes art out of it. She’s even cracked a joke about it. “I see music. You know, kind of like that kid from The Sixth Sense,” she describes on her Facebook page. “Having synesthesia isn’t distracting or disorienting. It adds a unique vibrance (sic) to the world I experience.”
“Painting in oils and acrylics is a way to express and exhibit the beautiful colors that I see on a day to day basis, whether it’s hearing someone’s name, or that song on the radio,” she says. “I paint a variety of artists from Led Zeppelin to Stevie Wonder.”
Here are just a few of her paintings and which songs they represent. Clearly, she has great taste in music.
Radiohead – Lucky
Led Zeppelin – Since I’ve Been Loving You
Soulive – Interlude II
John Mayer – Gravity
David Bowie – Life On Mars
Prince – Joy In Repetition
Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight
John Lennon – Imagine
Jimi Hendrix – Little Wing
Radiohead – Karma Police
Glass Animals – Flip
Airhead – Callow
Thanks for reading!