Synesthesia, visual music and Sonified

Ever see a wonderful view – or some stunning graphics – and feel music coming on?

Inside the Mind of a Synaesthete by Steve Silberman discusses color synesthesia … experiencing colors when listening to music, or on seeing letters and numbers …  introduces some iPhone/iPad software which produces musical sounds to accompany video – and interviews the software’s author.

For hundreds of years a long line of inventors has tried to create color organs , including Thomas Wilfred who spent his 20th-century life working on Lumia or visual music. Recently some have managed to put images and sound  together (Daphne Oram, Oskar Fischinger).

Messiaen described chords as “blue-violet rocks, speckled with little grey cubes, cobalt blue, deep Prussian blue, highlighted by a bit of violet-purple, gold, red, ruby, and stars of mauve, black and white….

Now a prolific multimedia artist and writer named Perry Hall, who was born with his own version of Nabokov’s quirky gift, has developed an iPhone/iPad app called Sonified that enables even those low on the synaesthetic spectrum to experience light, colors, and movement morphing into sounds.

Visualizers (like the one in iTunes) are another example of this long quest. Maybe there’s some synesthesia in all of us, trying to get out. Maybe it’s something many are born with and vaguely remember but have lost. Perry Hall continues in a searching tradition.

See also: VJing, Liquid light show, Visual Music Archive, Cymatics

Update: BBC: The man who hears colors