How do you "hear" colors?

Matthew S. Klahn msk48747 at
Tue Mar 21 11:20:11 EST 1995


>This piqued my interest after someone mentioned musicians hearing
>auditory colors--I am a musician.  What exactly *is* an auditory
>"color" and how would one "hear" it?

I have heard of certain musicians who use this term ("colors") to denote
variations in musical tones.  I believe what they are terming 'colors' are
subtle variations in pitch (the percep of frequency; don't confuse the two!)
and use 'color' as a way to describe it.  Naturally F and F# will sound 
differently, and one might say that they each have a different "color".  I
guess this would be most useful when you deal with chords that would have
four or five different notes; to tell what notes are making up the chords
you would have to break it down into it's component "colors" (that is, notes)
and then you would know what notes were being played.  I am skeptical that this
terminology is accurate and/or useful, especially if it causes confusion
as is the case here.
I guess if you want to know more about it I could look through some old guitar
magazines that I have and give you the name of the guy who is selling a book
about how you can learn his method of obtaining (!) perfect pitch which uses
"colors" to differentiate sounds.  I must say that I am not sure that everyone
could learn "perfect pitch", but it's an interesting idea.
I must say that I have never heard of color being used in any other way, and
since you linked it to musicians, I thought that this was what you were asking.
There is no physiological correlate to "color" in sound that I know of, but
then again, I am merely a speech-language Pathology grad student; what do *I*
know.... =)

Matthew Klahn		klahn at		klahn at

>-Laura at a.really.confused.undergrad.

Matthew S. Klahn    |"Then we are one tribe, and our greatness is your great-
klahn at      | ness, and yours is ours. You say to us, we must see all
Any and all opinions| other tribes the same way. As one tribe, our tribe all
are opinionated.....| together, so that we grow by making them grow." - Human

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