Sunday, April 1, 2012

A-Major is Green –

and C Major is red, G major is yellow, B major is brown, E major blue, D major is a light brown. These are my personal associations; other people’s colors will certainly vary. These associations are known as chromesthesia  – the association of color and sound. It is a form of synesthesia - a neurological condition in which stimulation from one sense leads to involuntary experience in a secondary sense. Basically, chromesthesia is pitch/color association.

Today is the beginning of the Blogging A to Z challenge, and the theme of this blog for the month of April will focus on music and its instruments, as well as other interesting phenomenon. The challenge is to blog a letter of the alphabet every day to the end of the month. (There are three Sundays off.) 

A Major is so green to me that the letter A could not be anything else. I always thought it would be interesting to find a composer who could write a score for me in color rather than in black and white notes. Even in college I found the phenomenon interesting and looked for someone to work with, but to no avail.

The list of noted composers who had chromesthesia includes Scriabin, Messiaen, Mozart, Sibelius, Liszt, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Gyorgy Ligeti. Wikipedia reports that Mozart referred to the key of D Major as “a warm orangey sound...while B-flat minor was blackish.” Mozart found A major a rainbow of colors.

I can’t say that having chromesthesia has been beneficial or useful in any particular way. Rather, it is an oddity that I enjoy, that fascinates me, and that I share with some pretty notable musicians. 


  1. Hmmm, I think you should try knitting a symphony. it might be interesting....

  2. I've heard of chromesthesia but didn't know much about it so thank you for illuminating me. Notes in harmony evoke more emotion in me but I don't see a color associated with them. What kind of musician are you?

    1. I was a Classical flutist and church organist until about 2002, when I took the job as Editor of Flute Talk magazine. I am retired now and teach knitting instead. It's all about color!

  3. I think equally as cool as writing a score in color would be getting someone to create a program that would take your chromesthesia and allow you to play music and see the effects at the same time. I think since you know how you associate, it couldn't be that difficult. And it might be easier getting a programmer to work with as opposed to a composer. Be sure to let us know if you get that working - it's an app I'd pay for!

  4. Well, that is just too cool. An excellent affliction, if a person needs to have one.

  5. For some reason this post reminded me of the beginning of the movie "Fantasia" when they show colors and lines to represent the different notes and instruments. Fascinating!

  6. Interesting post! I have a couple musician sons, and now I want to ask them if they see music in color.

    I'm here to say hi and welcome you to the Challenge!


  7. I love this! A friend of mine in college who had synesthesia was an art major and an accomplished a cappella singer. His final project was an art book depicting his associations. Looking forward to reading more of your posts this month!

  8. That's a very interesting first post. I had never thought of musical notes as representing colours before!

    This is me, Duncan D. Horne, visiting you from the A-Z challenge, wishing you all the best throughout April and beyond.

    Duncan In Kuantan

  9. Okay, my question for you is how do you experience these colours? Do you see them in your mind's eye, or are they as literally seen as anything right there in front of you, like in the air? Do you see them only when you hear a note, or is looking at a score enough to trigger the colour experience? I have always wondered this about synethesia.

    A-Z @ Elizabeth Twist