John Burke’s Synesthesia – Musical Colors Test

synesthesia music john burkeOne of the forms of synesthesia that I’ve always found to be particularly interesting and interestingly romantic is sound to color synesthesia. Whether it’s the fictitious visions of legendary composers crafting their greatest works in dancing colors or the common allure of synesthesia, there’s something there that tickles my fancy. So, when I came across solo pianist John Burke’s website, with his album – titled Synesthesia – I knew I had to share. What’s more is that he’s actually provided all of you sound (or music) to color synesthetes with a cool little test involving songs from his album. Let’s take a look!

First off, I have to say that I love the album’s song nomenclature for its simplicity alone. Each song, as you may have guessed, is named with a color. When you consider the actual naming convention, the album takes a completely different life. In composing each piece, Burke set out to tap into the listener’s subconscious, meticulously manipulating his hammers and strings in such a way that would actually invoke a sense of a given color in the listener’s mind. The color? The composition’s title, of course. Cobalt. Sage. Crimson. Violet. Take your pick. There are 10 compositions in total.

The Music to Color Test

Alright, you’re here for a test, so a test you shall get. The premise behind sound to color synesthesia is that certain sounds invoke a given color in the synesthete’s mind. Typically, we might say that the sounds (or triggers) are more generic and defined, rather than multiple-minute compositions, but for our purposes, Burke’s compositions will be a bit more compelling. Just a bit.

Anyways, on this page, where Burke describes his idea for the album, you can listen to three of the selections. The challenge, as Burke has prescribed on the page, is to listen to the compositions and then compare any color visualizations that you may have to the piece’s title. Now, obviously, you’ll see the title first. However, the exact colors won’t be immediately recallable. Give the songs a listen, and if you have any sound to color experiences, find an exact representation of the title color and compare. Who knows; you might surprise yourself!

More Music & Testing

If you have any synesthetic experiences with the three available selections, you might consider purchasing the album and experimenting with the other compositions. Another option is trying individual pieces. Even if your perceived colors don’t match up with the song titles, it might be interesting to compare them with those of other users. So, yeah, I strongly encourage sharing. :)

Results or not, I do recommend adding the album to your collection. Not only is it a great example of synesthesia as an artform, but it’s also quite enjoyable. I’m partial to ‘Indigo’, in particular. Very relaxing music, all around. Take a listen and let me know what you think!

That’s all for now! Again, if you get a chance to listen to John Burke’s free selections, let us know which colors, if any, you involuntarily visualize. We’re eager to hear from you! See you next time! Happy listening!

13 Comments on “John Burke’s Synesthesia – Musical Colors Test”

  • I’m not entirely sure I get the colours without first focusing on the titles, but I did really enjoy the music. I guess I’m just not one of the ones with synesthesia.

    • by Travis

    Hey Majikfaerie,

    Thanks for the comment! I’m glad you enjoyed the music. Don’t rule out synesthesia, just yet! :) There are a variety of forms with a variety of triggers. Sound is just one of these triggers. Anyways, thanks for visiting!

  • Hi there, Travis!! John Burke here!
    Man, I just stumbled across this article! Wow, thank you SO much for your wonderful comments! I´m thrilled that you enjoyed my album and am so grateful to know that it has made a spotlight on your Synesthesia website. I’m going to put a link on my website that leads straight to this article. Thank you, thank you, and thank you!
    Are you interested in an album, my friend? With your willingness to write this article, I feel that you deserve a free copy. Shoot me an e-mail if you’re interested.
    Once again, thank you so much. It’s such a wonderful feeling knowing that my music has had made an impact on others. Best of wishes, sir!

    • by Briaa Lynn

    I listened to the one titled “Emerald” I did have a color experience but not one that matched the title at all the song like all music to me was multicolored and had a discernible flowing moving shape. as for the colors the beginning was blue and green but it slowly faded into pinks and yellows and purples. thanks for this wonderful experience. :)

    • by Travis

    Hey Briaa,

    Glad you liked John’s songs! Pretty cool that you had some color experiences! While I didn’t experience anything like that, John was nice enough to send me a copy of his album. If you enjoyed the free samples, I highly recommend giving the rest of his solos a listen. Thanks for stopping by!

    • by Akeyla

    well while i did see a sapphire/cobalt color for cobalt, i heard emerald as a pale purple and indgo was gray with a fleck of black

    • by Sharon

    Hi, My name is sharon. I havent heard any of my experiences. I see emotion in color. And when I taste food, I see color also! Even music tones. Its easy for me to be on pitch because I see the color in my mind and relate to it! Its wonderful. I also compose songs. So thats pretty easy for me too! The only downer is that I cant read music, but I relate well. Thank you for your music! It has really inspired me and its absolutely beautiful!

    • by Travis

    Sharon, thanks for sharing your experiences! John’s music is really great, isn’t it? Listening to the full album in the car makes a long commute enjoyable!

    • by Thatoneguy

    I don’t think I have synesthesia, but when I listen to a song, I easily produce images and weird psychadelic waveforms in my head way different then the ones you’d see in Windows Media Player in XP. I know it can’t be only me for sure. I don’t really see colors though.

    • by Zach

    I’ve recently been entertaining the fact that I might have musical synaesthesia for a little while now. This was certainly an interesting test. For one, “Cobalt” was the only one that had a strongly defined color and texture right from the start; it was like a blue-steel pigment painted on coal, if that makes sense. I suppose that matches the song title pretty well. “Emerald” didn’t want to settle into a specific color, but eventually it came across as a green, albeit one that was slightly brighter than true emerald. Strangely enough, “Indigo” initially appeared F-major yellow with orange tones thrown in, although the warm-color character eventually faded. I didn’t feel a strong attachment to either of the last two pieces, though, so my impressions are purely superficial.

    • by Travis

    Hey Zach,

    Thanks for giving it a try and sharing your experiences. I’m sure that John appreciates the listens, and I know that I appreciate the feedback. Stop back sometime!

    • by Missty

    Color synesthesia is something new I am discovering. I feel colors and sounds in an indescribable maner. The “cobalt” and “Indigo” song produced colors for me. They however, did not match the title. For Cobalt, I saw ameba shape that rippled outward. The middle was blue rippling into a bold bright green. I did not see the colors until the last third of the song. When certain cords were struck the ripples would vibrate. Emerald did not do anything for me. Indigo produces a golden-yellow wave. The best I can describe it being under water and looking up at where the water breaks combined with watching clouds the blow past quickly. This was my first concerte test so I’m not sure what to make of my experience.

    • by Mytch

    Thank you so much for this article and the music. It finally gave a term to my peculiar trait that I always wondered where and how it came about. The titles matched the colours I visualise especially the cobalt, exactly like how I saw it!! Crimson as well.

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