ES EN

Key signature-colour

A subtype of auditory-visual synesthesia


With this type of synesthesia, it is the key of a song or piece of music that determines the colour perceived as a synesthetic concurrent. It normally triggers a single colour per song, unless the person who has this type also has other auditory-visual types of synesthesia that evoke other concurrents together with this one.


The term chromesthesia can be used for this type of synesthesia, as chromesthesia is a general name that can be given to any type in which the inducer is sound or music and the concurrent is (or includes) colour.





Here is a description written by someone with this type of synesthesia: 

"D Major is my least favorite key signature. It’s this dark green that’s kind of ugly. Anyway, I find myself having a bias against songs in D Major and other key signatures I don’t like, and it’s really frustrating because I know some of them are really good songs, but I can’t love them as much.”

(Source: This comment on the online debate platform Reddit/Synesthesia. 2019.)


Synesthesia for concepts of keys (non-auditory)

In the case of some synesthetes, however, musical keys can have an associated colour but the colour is not evoked by hearing the sound of the music in a particular key but rather by the concept of the key itself, or by the letters used for its notation. In the first case this would be concept-colour synesthesia, i.e. coloured sequences (as in the case of the example below) and in the second it would be grapheme-colour synesthesia.

This is the interesting case of Caroline Curwen, a musician and researcher who has colours for the concepts of musical keys. She also has auditory-induced synesthesia when listening to pieces of music, so in fact the two types coexist:

“My synaesthesia for music has to be in the context of whole piece of music. (…) I get colours, shapes and textures on a moving landscape. I also get colours and textures in response to just the thought of a musical key. I don't have to hear it.”

“Do your colours for keys match up with the colours of their letters in your grapheme-colour synesthesia, or are they different?”

“My keys are different to letters. In fact I don't really have letters so much, just numbers.”

(Source: an online conversation. 2021)


If you get the impression of one colour per song or piece of music, it may be triggered by other aspects apart from the key it is in. Go to the page on song-to-colour synesthesia


Go to the page on auditory-visual synesthesia in general

Go to the page on musical synesthesias

Go to the page on chromesthesia

Go to the page on tone-colour synesthesia (musical note-colour)

Go to the page on chord-colour synesthesia

Go to the page on song/musical genre-colour synesthesia
This page is about key signature-color synesthesia
This page is about key signature-colour synaesthesia

This page last updated: 04 July 2021

No comments:

Post a Comment