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!

Experiment: Try Lumosity’s Online Brain Games!

synesthesia Lumosity Brain GamesHave you ever talked to a friend or family member and realized that your brain activity is – to some degree – atypical? Don’t fret; you’re not alone. Whether your experiences are synesthetic in nature or related to something entirely different, it’s always interesting to learn more about what’s going on inside our brains and how it affects our mental capacities. While we try to explore the former as much as possible on the Synesthesia Test blog, this post will address the latter. How do my abnormal perceptions and/or thought processes affect the way I react to different stimuli? More specifically, when faced with a game that’s designed to stimulate my brain, do my tendencies aid or hinder my ability to perform well? We’ll need your help here a little, of course, as well as that of Lumosity – an awesome suite of online games and exercises designed to engage, challenge, and ultimately improve your brain function.

The Game: Speed Match

Lumosity has a boatload of great games for boosting your memory and mental fortitude, but for our purposes (and largely in the spirit of this blog and its topic of synesthesia), I chose to use the Speed Match game. Not only is it pretty simple, but it also reminds me of some of the things we discussed when talking about the high-functioning savant, Daniel Tammet. Anyways, the objective of this game is to indicate whether or not the symbol or shape matches the one that appeared immediately before it. There is a time stipulation of 45 seconds, so you’ll want to hurry! That’s the gist of it, though.

While this game is free to play, you can gain access to a personalized set of brain exercises by signing up for a 14-day free trial. It’s not required, obviously, but if you find yourself having fun and being challenged by some of the free games, I think it’s a must-try. Plus, the trial is completely free, and you can opt out at any time, free of charge. Back to Speed Match, though! Give it a try! The first round is for practice. On your second run, record your score (or take a screenshot). We’ll need your results to make this a success!

Comparing Results

So, it’s the moment of truth. How did you do? Were you impressed with your performance on the second try, as opposed to the first? Does that old brain need a little dusting off? Don’t sweat it. This is mostly for fun. Anyways, I’ll share my results below. On my first play, I think I scored somewhere in the 540-560 point range. Interestingly enough, my results seemed to improve drastically with just one try under my belt. Here are the stats from trial two:

Category: Non-synesthete
Reaction Time: 1036 ms
Accuracy: 100%
Total Correct: 36
Points: 940

Not too shabby, eh? Well, who knows, really. Until we see some of your results, we won’t know how well I did (relatively speaking). The more, the better – obviously. You can submit your results in the comments of this post using your first name, a nickname, or completely anonymous. We’re not so much concerned with who is contributing as we are with what is being contributed. That said, I’ll go ahead and thank all of those who do contribute in advance :). Remember, when you post your results, if you’d be so kind as to include which category you fall into: non-synesthete, synesthete, unsure, or some abnormal brain function. No personal information will be published in my follow-up – only inferences from the overall data set! Does it sound like a plan? Good! I look forward to hearing from some of you soon!

If it’s more convenient, you can use our contact form to submit your results. Just put “Speed Match” in the subject line! Thanks for reading! Again, if you enjoyed the free game from Lumosity, chances are that you’ll love the personalized trial program! Sign up while it’s free! See you soon!