We’ve all heard of a sixth sense. Synesthesia is a kind of union of the senses or unofficial sixth sense that allows those born with it to experience music, words and sounds in ways the rest of us can’t. Synesthetes may perceive colors to be associated with letters or numbers. One of the problems with synesthesia is how hard it is to define. One definition is that it’s a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. Here are 15 famous people with synesthesia.
Source: Wikipedia.org, Daysn.com, Livescience.com
Who started the fire? Actually, it was just Billy Joel playing. In an interview, the piano man said, “Certain lyrics in some songs I’ve written, I have to follow a vowel color. A strong vowel ending, like an A or an E or an I, I associate with a very blue or a very vivid green…I think reds I associate more with consonants, a T or a P or an S. It’s a harder sound. These (letters) are what I associate with reds and oranges.”
We wonder what colors Pharrell was visualizing when he sang his popular “Happy” song. Certainly a cheerful color. Pharrell is an American rapper, record producer, songwriter, and fashion designer who has synesthesia.
Famous for his blurry line work in his art, Monet was reputed to have synesthesia and reflected what he saw through his art.
The composer was reported to have yelled at his orchestra to play “a little bluer!” or “more red!” Unbeknownst to Liszt, his fellow musicians had no idea what he was talking about.
Despite being blind almost his whole life, Stevie Wonder said music gives him the gift of colors. When the musician plays on his piano, he said he is able to neurologically perceive colors from his notes.
The author named his characters after colors in his book, “My Name is Red.” The synesthete depicted his characters’ personalities based on the emotions the colors represented. If you want to further understand this unique condition, this is an excellent book to pick up.
The nihilist philosopher used to label his fellow thinkers with colors. When reading a book by Arthur Schopenhaur, Nietzsche said the book was filled with black and green words. Schopenhauer was a German philosopher who wrote the book, “The World as Will and Representation.” He claimed that the world is driven by a continually dissatisfied will, continually seeking satisfaction.
This “Cornflake Girl” singer said she has the musical ability to produce “the best kaleidoscope ever” — with music. We wish we could experience that as well, it sounds like a total trip!
The famed pianist once said, “I hear a note by one of the fellows in the band and it’s one color. I hear the same note played by someone else and it’s a different color. When I hear sustained musical tones, I see just about the same colors that you do, but I see them in textures. If Harry Carney is playing, D is dark blue burlap. If Johnny Hodges is playing, G becomes light blue satin.”
The late mathematician shared his rare ability to see colors in letters. “When I see equations, I see the letters in colors – I don’t know why,” he said. “As I’m talking, I see vague pictures of Bessel functions from Jahnke and Emde’s book, with light-tan Js, slightly violet-bluish Ns, and dark brown Xs flying around. And I wonder what the hell it must look like to the students.” We’ll tell you Feynman — it looked like a whole lot of befuddling nonsense in scribbled letters.
According to Van Halen’s bandmates, their band started from their guitarist’s strange ability to compose their music to stay within one color range (usually brown). We don’t know how he does it, but that is certainly some wise magic.
Notorious for his controversial novel, “Lolita,” Nabokov wrote in his autobiography about his ability to perceive sounds in colors and shapes. In this author’s case, synesthesia was heredity. His mother and son both possessed this strange condition.
Like Claude Monet, this Dutch painter with synesthesia reflected what he saw depending on what he was hearing. So next time you look at his most famous artwork, “Starry Night”, speculate on what music he must have been listening to while he painted this landscape.
He can’t exactly walk on water, but Yeezus says he can see sounds. And that’s pretty nifty for a man who compares himself to Shakespeare.
Although Marilyn never admitted to having this condition due to fears of being diagnosed as mentally ill, this bombshell’s close friends and family members confirmed that the late star had the ability to see vibrations.