My Experience of Synesthesia

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I see colors in sounds (tonality), numbers and letters. The colors I see can be expressed in letters as follows:
  • Tones (major key): C (white), D (orange close to yellow), E (yellow green), F (pink), G (blue), A (red) and B (dark red)
    These correspond to the typical mapping I have described in my paper, except for F, and I am myself startled with this result.

  • Numbers: 1 (white), 2 (orange), 3 (light blue), 4 (red), 5 (yellow), 6 (navy blue), 7 (lemon color), 8 (green) ...

  • Letters: A (vermilion), B (green), C (bluish gray), D (dark red), E (red), F (crayon skin color) ...
    I also feel color in Japanese hiragana and kanji characters. But as the structure of the character shape gets more complicated, the color sensation disappears.

Colors have been deeply involved with my memorization since I was small. I loved memorizing telephone numbers, number plates and the years of historical events, and have always used lines of color to memorize and recall them. I was not fond of making puns to memorize the years in history and have never used them. The reason was that it was simply not beautiful. Come to think of it now, I feel that this was because relating the puns with numbers against my will may have caused the images of colors to crumble. For instance, the year 645, when the Reformation of the Taika Era took place, was one of my favorite years because I could memorize it with a beautiful lines of color, navy blue + red + yellow. Also my home phone number had a beautiful area code of 0742, but I felt discontent with the number because the local number was not beautiful (43: red + light blue).

With regards to tonality, as I was receiving professional education in music (I also have a sense of perfect pitch), the resonance of a sound and the image of a color have always been deeply connected. When it came to composing music, I would think, "I will make blue colored music", or think, "What were these codes I remembered in pink and beige?" during a test on guessing the right code names of tension codes.

It has been my habit since I was small to feel colors and memorize things in colors using this way. For me, it was quite natural and I have never regarded it as something special. After I started working in research, I became aware that this phenomenon was called chromesthesia (colored-hearing synesthesia), a sense only a limited number of people can experience. However, I have no idea as to why I feel specific colors for certain objects, even when I recollect the experiences I had in the past. At this time, I cannot feel color as strongly as I did when I was small.

The two synesthetes who are cooperating with me in my experiments are both women and are active musicians. Ms. N.T., a pianist, is said to have remarked when she was 6 years old that "Minuet (G major) is music with a blue color". Even now she says she does not wear dresses with colors that do not match the music she plays. Ms. S.O., a cellist, says that a color that seems to be "wriggling" looks like a gradation.

A son of a former co-researcher, who is a ninth grader, also has the same experience. When he was asked if he saw colors when he heard sounds, he answered, "Yes, I used to see it more often before, but not as much now." He also has been receiving professional education in music since he was small.