Visualizing sounds

 annie (@anniecurtis)7 years, 10 months ago

I don’t play any instruments, but my whole life I’ve been putting shapes to sounds, noises, and music that I hear. Not only geometric or mathematical shapes, but moving shapes, shifting shapes, shapes that I come up with in my head. And I tend to catch on to sounds, pitch, and tune easily. When I hear a high pitched or "sharp" sound, I see a more compact, sharper, brighter image in my head. When I hear a deep or grumbling type of sound, whatever shape or picture I visualize tends to be more vague and dispersed. I like to think of it like the high pitched sounds are tightly compacted atoms in an ice cube, and as the sound grows deeper, the atoms disperse more, and the deepest sounds are like a gas. The atoms are the most separated they can be. For example, when my dog is whimpering, he’ll get tired of whimpering and it will fade away into a low grumble. I see it like a sparkler, or the drag of an airplane. One end is sharp and defined, while the other end is drifting and vague. That’s only one of the many odd examples I can think of, basically I can see sound, if that makes any sense? I know this wasn’t the greatest explanation, but I’m just wondering if any of you get this.

June 16, 2011 at 5:52 am
annie (2) (@anniecurtis) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

Well, ahh it’s really hard to explain! Like if you name a sound, I could tell you what I see. Some of the shapes are associated with things in life, sort of like an onomatopoeia, but instead of the sound imitating the word, it imitates a picture associated with it. For example, if I hear someone crack their knuckles, I normally see a sort of flash with jagged edges, which could kind of look like cracking. If that makes sense. If floorboards are creaking, I see an earthquake/branch type of pattern, and it just keeps forming, like breaking ice, except I don’t see the whole pictures, just the pattern of lines, usually in gradients of colors. And sometimes, there’s no reason to the shapes. When I hear a hand brushing against paper, I see a sort of spray paint like visual, dotted and smooth. For a burp, I see tons of blocks, normally with the color fading from the outside in, so the center is black. But it all happens in motion, there’s always a movement to the visuals.

I can turn it on and off, in a way. If I think about it too much, I can’t think of the shapes too well, because it’s just a reaction in my brain. I hear a sound, and a picture flashes across my mind. It happens mostly when I’m focusing on the sounds, not when something esle is on my mind or I’m preoccupied.

I’m not sure if certain sounds create patterns or emotions, I’ve never really analyzed it, or stringed together the causes and effects of it. But that would be a really interesting thing to document. It would be difficult, due to it being so instantaneous, but definitely interesting :)

Sorry for the length of that, it’s kind of hard to get it across to someone. I hope it was interesting though? (:

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J (0) (@mynameisjonas) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

This is fascinating. There’s something going on in your brain that not many people can experience :)

How consistent are the images you see? I mean, could you SEE if there’s something different in a familiar sound you see/hear regularly?

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Timmy (5) (@timmy) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

w00t! =D You’re a synesthete, Annie! Basically, synesthesia is when two or more of the five senses crosswire. In your case, it’s hearing and sight. My own synesthesia is usually mild when it comes to sound/sight, but very strong in regards to words, numbers, dates, etc.

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Michael (26) (@mike) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

This is terribly fascinating. I agree with Timmy, you’re likely a synesthete. Awesome!

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Patrick Phillips (19) (@crossingtheeventhorizon) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

That’s really interesting. I have synesthesia as well, but not as cool as that. Mine is with numbers and letters being associated with colors, and with time having a spatial/visual component. I know another synesthete who associates different musical notes with different colors (also has perfect pitch) – jealous.

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annie (2) (@anniecurtis) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

J, that’s a really interesting question :) But again, I’ve never really thought about it, so I’m not sure. I’ll definitely try to observe it more often, and let you know :)

Timmy, which of your senses crosswire, I’m curious, all of this is so crazy, I never thought it was so uncommon!

Any of you that are synesthetes, I would appreciate if you’d describe your, uh, categories I guess haha, and what it’s like. It’s cool knowing that other people share this (:

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Amber Hoeffer (8) (@ambernichole) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

Hey! That is really cool, and yes I do the same thing as well. I can do it specifically with sounds and shapes, but I actually I did a whole art project where i put shapes and color to emotions and drew it out on a diagram. I drew my emotion for 5-10 mins twice a day and mapped it out for several days. In the end, I had a long graph with shapes, lines and colors that I felt really “visualized” my emotions. It was really interesting to see how everything flowed and I got really interesting feedback on it from other people. I am going to do the same project again soon. I’ll have to post it somewhere where people can see it. Slightly off topic, but I also “see” vibrations from people. Sometimes i feel color, but mostly I imagine the shapes and lines that a person’s presence has.

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Amber Hoeffer (8) (@ambernichole) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

I just went back and read more of the post, i had no idea this was uncommon?! I thought it was pretty normal, as I associate it with most everything I do. It can be overwhelming, but more just distracting in a fun way.

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Amber Hoeffer (8) (@ambernichole) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

one more sidenote (i’m at work and shouldn’t be on here, hence why my ideas and posts are so broken up, but i’m excited=) It is always consistent for me. I see the same shapes and lines as if they are attached to their sounds/sources/major emotions. As for people, the vibrations i see/feel are consistent as well. What i mean by that is that it helps me feel people out and see a little about their character before i get to know them. I don’t know if that made sense or not.

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Sean D Stevens (155) (@thelaughingfool) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

I often judge music not by how it sounds, but by how it looks.

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annie (2) (@anniecurtis) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

Aelxa, no it’s never overwhelming, it’s just what I’m used to, so I don’t think so (:

I wonder if it’s possible to teach yourself to be a synesthete? That would be pretty awesome, imagine how enriched you’d feel all the time if you basically had 25 senses!

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annie (2) (@anniecurtis) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

sorry, *Alexa

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annie (2) (@anniecurtis) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

Amber, that could possibly be the coolest project ever! How did it turn out? I’m totally gonna do that, it seems like it might be frustrating though, because my images come and go before I can even process them really.

I’ve seen a show about something like that, where this woman could see like a colorful aura around a person, and could vaguely tell their emotions. Is that like yours at all? So incredibly awesome. I’d love to know more, that’s something I really can’t imagine!

Sean, that’s really cool. What kinds of images differentiate good music from bad music? In your opinion.

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Timmy (5) (@timmy) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

@alexa, it’s never been overwhelming for me, because it’s something I’ve always had and didn’t realize was uncommon for a long time.

When I listen to music, it takes on a life of its own in a spatial realm I guess. It’s not really there but I can see it and feel it and smell it as if it were right in front of me. My favorite music is trance because it is the most beautiful of any musical genre to me. Imagine watching a river of color flowing in a thousand directions all over your mind, teasing your emotions as it goes.
I also associate sensation to names, dates and words and time itself. I don’t know if it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy or something more intuitive at work, but I can usually tell what to expect out of my day/week/month/year just by examining the color, texture and overall sensation of any given moment. This 6th sense, if you will, doesn’t exist entirely on its own. It’s almost like it layers itself onto the other five senses.

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Amber Hoeffer (8) (@ambernichole) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

@annie
It turned out amazing. It was one of my favorite art projects I did. I had really interesting and unique images at times that popped into my head at the moment. Like i said, I’ll have to post it somewhere where people can check it out. I got great feedback on it (it was part of my thesis project my senior year of college) and people felt like they got a really good sense of my emotions from reading it. I plan on doing it again and perhaps elaborating. You totally should do it! You have to kind of meditate while you do it, so the image comes naturally. Perhaps you could play sounds while you do it.

Not that I want to claim that “i see auras” and all that, but I definitely do get a good sense of people from it. For example, some people come across as what you would visualize a low, humming buzz sound to feel/look like. Another woman I work with has a fuzzy, distorted frequency around her (it is unsettling really). People tend to avoid her too. Other people have very inviting and comfortable waves. With some people I get immediate and strong visualizations/frequencies (i guess thats the best way to describe it?). Other’s are more muted.

I love this subject, it is all very interesting! I’d love to continue discussing.
and again, I’ll have to get that project posted=)

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daveb (119) (@daveb) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

thanks for sharing, X-people. for a normal like me this thread is fascinating. @amber I hope you post your emoti-graphs, I am really curious to see what they look like.

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Amber Hoeffer (8) (@ambernichole) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

http://amber-rine.deviantart.com/#/d3jbwmo

I wasn’t sure how to post it here, so I posted it to my deviant art. I think you should be able to use the link to see my project. Let me know if it works!

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Trevor (0) (@tdux) 7 years, 9 months ago ago

So fascinating! I can “see” sounds too, but not to the extent that you can @annie. I only see the sound when I’m listening to music, it doesn’t occur for just everyday sounds. And, for some reason, it only seems to take shape when I’m listening to instrumental music, although it sometimes occurs in the instrumental gaps between the verses and choruses of songs. And unlike @annie, I dont see music as objects, I see it as different colors (i.e. a low G would be a dark green and something like a high C would be a bright yellow). It varies, but for the most part lower notes represent darker colors and vice-versa. I suppose I’m a partial synesthete, as @timmy described, but I don’t fully understand the concept of it, even being a musician.

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Trevor (0) (@tdux) 7 years, 9 months ago ago

So fascinating! I can “see” sounds too, but not to the extent that you can @annie. I only see the sound when I’m listening to music, it doesn’t occur for just everyday sounds. And, for some reason, it only seems to take shape when I’m listening to instrumental music, although it sometimes occurs in the instrumental gaps between the verses and choruses of songs. And unlike @annie, I dont see music as objects, I see it as different colors (i.e. a low G would be a dark green and something like a high C would be a bright yellow). It varies, but for the most part lower notes represent darker colors and vice-versa. I suppose I’m a partial synesthete, as @timmy described, but I don’t fully understand the concept of it, even being a musician.

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Euro (7) (@intellectualblasphemy) 7 years, 9 months ago ago

I can only see sounds when I smoke weed, put some headphones on and concentrate on the music (but I have to really “feel” the music). Otherwise I don’t really have a musical ear.

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Ramo (4) (@ramo) 7 years, 9 months ago ago

Wow, awesome. We are brilliant creatures. I wonder if I can teach myself to crosswire my senses like that. I think I should be able to. Going to check out your biofeedback thingy Amber :)

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Lloyd Chang (1) (@lloydchang) 6 years, 8 months ago ago

Hello Annie, Timmy, Amber, Trevor, and Everyone! @anniecurtis @timmy @ambernichole @tdux

Like Fantasia the movie, I can visualize sound — even while I’m at concerts — by transforming live music into thin strings that dance in mid air right in front of my eyes as visual spatial mind movie overlays on top of our physical reality. The more layers of sound tracks there are, the more complex and colorful the dancing music visualizations become… It’s naturally fun for me :-)

I see comparable visuals described as Spatial Sequence Synesthesia; see pictures at http://www.synesthesiatest.org/blog/spatial-sequence-synesthesia
and http://people.brunel.ac.uk/~hspgmes/synaesthesia.php

Related, I’m a visual spatial learner, described with cartoons and words:
http://gypsyschoolhouse.blogspot.com/2011/03/visual-spatial-learners.html
and http://www.visualspatial.org/spatialstrengths.php

Are each of you visual spatial learners too? Please let me know if you’d like to ideate more on these topics!

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Dan (890) (@danfontaine) 6 years, 8 months ago ago

I feel I’m the same way. I also feel everyone is but perhaps most just don’t notice. I think sight and sound are very interlinked for humans, take language for instance.. sound attached to symbols, interesting.
Maybe some people find it interesting and fun so they utilize the connection more often, strengthening it. I love visualizing music. It’s the source of dance. When I’m tripping the music literally moves me and I’m suddenly pro at dancing.

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