Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Synaethesia

Way back in January this year, I wrote an entry on my weird ‘feeling’ of music. It happened to crop up today while me and my housemates were having dinner. Sally and I were talking about our visualisations of the months of the year (mine’s oval, her’s square) and the days of the week. I also have colours for days of the week, and a sort of number grid. My number grid is incomplete, which I think adds to my difficulty in using numbers. I also had colours from different classes at school. Mirabelle and Di were fairly non-plussed by it all.

Sally called it synaesthesia. I had heard the term before, but never really thought about it in the context of my sensations. We talked of colour scales for music, but I have nothing like that. I feel music.

But Sally (herself a music graduate) was surprised by my music thing. It’s something I find almost impossible to put into words. When a piece of music gets me, my skin tingles, and I get goose-pimples and erect nipples. It is a real solid physical feeling, but I cannot describe it. Maybe the easiest thing to equate it to it sexual arousal – but for me the two are completely separate. I have not been able to pin down when I get the feeling: it can be during complex or simple music, and when I am listening or singing, but it is not entirely reproducible. I believe it may be triggered by certain chord sequences, but thinking interferes with the feeling, and I lose it.

Intrigued by Sally’s talk of synaesthesia, I plugged it into Google (good old Google) and discovered a world of synaesthetes. Wikipedia has an article, and there is a UK Synaesthesia Association.

I think that I have mild but unusual synaesthesia. So far, I can’t find any testimonies or accounts of music and touch synaesthesia. I will keep reading about it, but I won’t get obsessed. I will simply be grateful for the chance to experience the joy of music on an extra level.

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