CVNet - color and music

Chris Lofting ddiamond at
Sat Apr 1 02:37:02 EST 2000

RE: CVNet - color and musicThe book "Merging of the Senses" is a useful text
in reflecting on this. One of my websites refers to it in the discussion of
hybridisation of neural nets such that an abstract information processing
system develops based on the distinctions of objects (the what) and
relationships (the where). (synesthesia discussed at  The what/where discussed
more at )

The common theme in the colour/music processing (more females than males
seem to experience synesthesia possibly due to a bias in information
processing to relational thinking - see below) is frequency.

In the human brain, especuially in the hemispheres of the neocortex, there
seems to be a bias where one part processes data in single context,
square-wave, manner (favours the processing/identification of objects) and
the other part processes data in a more multi-contect, fourier-transform,
manner (favours the processing of relationships).

IOW one side is 'tonic' oriented and the other harmonics oriented. The
harmonics in vision are in the form of colour and those in audition are in
the form of chords -- both manifesting the utilisation of
frequency/wavelength to process data.

The 'link' re response to these types of data is emotion in that emotion
allows us to transform a visual experience into an auditory one and visa

If we work at the general level of analysis, ignoring genetic diversity and
education processes, you will find an overall bias of females to relational
thinking (and so a propensity to experience depression more than males (1:4
compared to 1:6)) and males to object thinking (and so a propensity to
psychotic-schizophrenic experiences -- mania etc)

At the general level the more object oriented seem more biased to high
frequency processing whereas the more relational seem to be biased more to
low frequency processing.

Of note is that the linking of emotion to the wave metaphor allows us to
layer emotions in the form of taking fundamental 'wave' forms to make
complex forms (e.g. disgust + anger = contempt). Thus concepts such as
superpositions and entanglements are part of our emotional life and in some
these emotions are set off where hearing harmonics in music leads one to see
harmonics in the form of colours.



  -----Original Message-----
  From: Ron Blue [mailto:rcb5 at]
  Sent: Saturday, 1 April 2000 7:46
  To: PSYCH-CI; PSYART; TIPS; audiolog at; neur-sci at
  Cc: oberdorfer at
  Subject: Fw: CVNet - color and music

  You might be interested in this web page provided by Dr. Oderdorfer.
  Ron Blue
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Oberdorfer, Mike (NEI)
  To: rcb5 at
  Sent: Friday, March 31, 2000 2:44 PM
  Subject: RE: CVNet - color and music

  The phenomenon you describe is called "synathesia,"  where one associates
color with sounds usually music.  See the attached URL.

  Michael D. Oberdorfer, Ph.D.
  National Eye Institute/NIH
  Executive Plaza South, Room 350
  6120 Executive Blvd., MSC 7164
  Bethesda, MD 20892-7164
  PH: 301.496.5301
  FX: 301.402.0528
  email: oberdorfer at

  -----Original Message-----
  From: Color and Vision Network [mailto:cvnet at]
  Sent: Friday, March 31, 2000 11:43 AM
  To: CVNetList at
  Subject: CVNet - color and music

  From: "Ron Blue" <rcb5 at>
  To: "Color and Vision Network" <cvnet at>
  Cc: <audiolog at>
  Subject: colors and music
  Organization: Microsoft Corporation

  I had a student who sees colors when listening to music to place small
  speakers under each forearm and listen to his favorite song.

  The reason was to discover if the interacting wavelets of stimulation
  increase the color experience.  The idea was suggested by the
  Opponent Processing model at

  The experience created in the student interesting outcomes.  The ability
  see colors was significantly reduced when listening to music.  The colors
  were grayish and mild.  The student reported a rather strong feeling of
  being and mild pleasure.

  Ron Blue

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