• Izak Hannard

Spectrum: How Chromesthesia Has Opened My Mind Creatively

Updated: Jan 8, 2019

I've been thinking about synesthesia a lot lately, what it means to me and how it has opened my mind creatively through photography, fashion and music.

1 in 2000 people have the neurological phenomena and interestingly enough, 75% are women. Men only make up 25% of the number of people who have it.

If you do not know what synesthesia is, it is an interesting sensory "condition" where people automatically associate one thing with another, with the help of behavioural brain imaging and molecular genetic methods.

Sounds complicated, but I reckon more people have the so called "condition" than realised. The name "Synesthesia" derives from the Greek meaning of "perceive together".

There are different types of synesthesia, the type that I have is called Chromesthesia. The connection between sound and colour.

So for example from my perspective, I associate days of the week with a colour. To me, Wednesdays are light sky blues, Mondays are bright yellows and Fridays are tones of orange fading into red. Same with months of the year, January is maroon, February is aqua blue and December is silver.

I first discovered this when I started watching interviews featuring some of my favourite musical artists where they were discussing their similar experiences on associating colours with numbers, days of the week, months and even music.

At first I thought nothing of it and thought that everybody did it. I was left fascinated and started researching it myself.

The main thing that stood out for me was that I associate songs with colour. It can depend on the mood of the song, the melody, what instruments are used and through these creates a visual world in my mind that I can escape into.

It is fact that when we all listen to music, we all make connections in our brain of how we can relate to the song or even whether we like the song or not, everybody is different.

I've always had a fascination for music. Name me a song and I've probably listened to it. I listen to at least one hundred different songs a day, maybe more. Genre's depending on what mood I'm in but it's either pop/electronic or hip hop mostly.

As a writer of songs and being a part-time lyricist at home in my spare time, I always make connections with the colour of the song and in my mind visuals are running of where the song would be set if it were to be produced and have a video.

It has really opened up my mind and my appreciation for artists and musicians, to build a world visually by connecting two things together to open a whole new dimension.

Modern pop indie musician Charli XCX also has chromesthesia. I found Charli XCX's music back in 2013 when she released her debut album "True Romance" when she was not as well known as she is now.

I connected quite well with this album as the whole album sounded like it had been painted. The emotion her brush and the sound her paint. A visual world was immediately brought to my attention and I felt like I was in another world with her music. I still love the album to this date and when I'm in the mood I like to re-enter that dimension.

For example I see black when I listen to the deep and melancholic "Stay Away" and then when I listen to "Nuclear Seasons", fiery beacons of orange emerge. "Black Roses" I see purples similar when I listen to closing track "Lock You Up". To me most of the album is saturated in dark pinks and purples on black. It has painted itself onto my mind and I find it to be one my favourite albums of the decade.

It is the same with any album I listen to, but sometimes its harder to see colours with certain songs, it really depends on how the song is curated sonically and lyrically.

I'd rather not call "chromesthesia" a condition though, I don't know, it just seems to have a negative connotation when to me it is far from it. By having it inside of me, it helps me to engage in a more creative side of life that I refuse to shy away from.

From time to time I feel a need to do something creative, whether it is to write, or to produce a song, even if I do not want to share it with the rest of the universe. Sometimes it feels more of a need than a want, but I like it at the same time.

I'm not saying that every creative person has a form of synesthesia, but it is interesting that there might be more people out there who have no idea what it is and that they have it.

Scientists still have not figured out the origin of the brain phenomena, but research is suggesting that it is relatively a new thing, where certain connections are being made in the brain, arguing that this is an evolutionary occurrence starting only a couple of centuries ago.

Seeing as we are living in a completely new era inside of the world of digital, more keys are being found to unlock the chamber to where these connections are being made in the brain, with a whole new variety of music and sounds for our brain to process across the last three decades.

Example, pop music started to sound very different crossing from the nineties into the noughties to know. This has allowed people to make that connection, gaining new access to senses that they didn't know they had before.

I am finding more and more ways to express myself creatively, there was a period where it was music and I created music for a few years and now I'm moving onto a whole new endeavour in photography and fashion.

I am expressing myself through what colours and their tones and how it fits a certain mood and what the colour tastes like - which research is suggesting that through evolution, one day we might actually be able to taste colour.

If 5 in 10,000 have this, then you might too! There are a few online tests, but I wouldn't say that they were all accurate, as we all perceive things in a different way to one another.