Concept-sound synesthesia

It could also be called conceptual-auditory synesthesia

This type of synesthesia is interesting but uncommon. It consists of a concurrent sound perception – frequencies, timbres or even melodies – triggered by the different concepts or items that form part of a series, category or sequence. Some already known examples are grapheme-sound (evoked by letters and/or numbers) and colour-sound, and pain-sound synesthesia might also fall into this category. However, in addition to these there are other, less habitual, concepts that can each produce their own specific sound perception. The auditory concurrents evoked are involuntary and consistent, and although some synesthetes may hear the sounds physically as if they were real, it appears that most only hear them in the mind.

Here are some descriptions written by people with this type of synesthesia:


“I ‘hear’ the outlines of shapes. For example: think of those little racecar tracks that little kids put together. If I trace that track with my eyes, I can ‘hear’ (in my head, of course) the sounds of the curves, twists, bends and loops. Even straight lines have a specific ‘sound’. Each sound is always the same for that particular ‘outline’. So a loop does not sound like a straight line. And sometimes the sounds slow down and speed up, depending on what the ‘shape’ is.”

(Source: This post on Reddit/Synesthesia. 2022.)

Time units-to-sound (years)

“Every time a certain year appears, I hear a piece of music that goes with that year. Not all years, just some of the them seem to activate the music, and there’s no logic to it, I only know that certain years correspond to certain pieces of music and that each year has its own piece. I don’t understand how my brain invents these things, but I’ve been like that all my life. And if you were born in one of the years on this list, it means you’re defined by the music associated with that year.”

(A few examples taken from a longer list:)

(Source: a post in the Facebook group “Synesthesia”, 2021. Original text in French.)


Usually when I think of someone, I think of a blend of some colors, but then a series of sounds with... bodies? For example, a friend of mine is deep purple, bordering on blue, red, and a somehow gorgeous swampy green, but also "eh", "e-ah", and "mmhuh". (....) Then I also associate expressions or postures to match the sounds, essentially the personified sound, what it would feel like if it had a form and mood."

(Source: This post on Reddit/Synesthesia. 2021.)


"Hairstyles have noises. (…) Usually, the noise is either that of an instrument or a vocalization, but sometimes, it's something else entirely, and not all hairstyles have noises.
I think it's a lot less noticeable, but I vaguely remember getting sounds from other series of things.
(I hear them) in the mind. Usually, the more prominent and eccentric the hairstyle is, the louder and longer the sound is. Different parts of certain hairstyles seem to produce different sounds. A friend of mine has a large spiky mohawk on the top of his head, but shorter hair over the rest of his head. The mohawk produces the sound of a quick, energetic bass guitar riff, whereas the shorter hair produces the sound of a hard-to-specify wind instrument in the distance. I also know that even similar hairstyles can produce wildly different sounds."

(Source: a conversation arising from a post in the Facebook group “Synesthesia”, 2021.)

Go to the page on colour-sound synesthesia

Go to the page on grapheme-sound synesthesia

Go to the page on number-sound synesthesia

Go to the page on pain-sound synesthesia

Go to the page on motion-to-sound synesthesia

Go to the page on coloured sequence synesthesia (concept-colour)

This page last updated: 08 December 2022

This page first published: 15 August 2021

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