List of people with synesthesia

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This is a list of notable people who have, or had, the neurological condition synesthesia. Following that, there is a list of people who are often wrongly believed to have had synesthesia because they used it as a device in their art, poetry or music (referred to as pseudo-synesthetes). Finally, there is a short list of people who have received a speculative, posthumous diagnosis of synesthesia, or who are thought to possibly be synesthetes based on second or third hand sources. These are listed as "still under review" in the expectation that additional data will help to clarify their status.


Dev Hynes a.k.a. Blood Orange[edit]

Singer/songwriter/record producer (born December 23, 1985). Letters → color

When writing a new piece of music from a drawing “I start off by choosing four colors, so I associate C with yellow, I associate F with pink, I associate E with brown, I associate A with red.”

-TEDx Talks, A YouTube Video Description [1]

Anna Akana[edit]

Filmmaker/producer/actress/comedian/model (born August 18, 1989). Letters → color

"Though I have a very mild form of synesthesia (some people can taste words, see sounds, hear colors, or their colors/letters have personalities) I really do love having it. It's made me an insanely organized person and a time lord of epic proportions."

-Anna Akana, A YouTube Video Description [2]

Tori Amos[edit]

Singer/songwriter/pianist (born August 22, 1963). Music → color.

The song appears as light filament once I've cracked it. As long as I've been doing this, which is more than thirty-five years, I've never seen a duplicate song structure. I've never seen the same light creature in my life. Obviously similar chord progressions follow similar light patterns, but try to imagine the best kaleidoscope ever...

— Tori Amos and Ann Powers, Piece by Piece[3]

Rollo Armstrong[edit]

Producer/mixer, member of Faithless (born 1967). Music → color.

He gets on with the broad strokes, textures and colors — that’s how he hears music, he’s got that synesthesia (a phenomenon where sounds have color), he says ‘make it really sad, like a rainy day, I want to hear thunder’ — and I get on with all the anal fiddly bits.

— Sister Bliss talking about her working relationship with Rollo Armstrong.[4]

Amy Beach[edit]

American pianist and composer (September 5, 1867 – December 27, 1944). It turns out that the 19th-century American classical composer Amy Beach had both perfect pitch and a set of colors for musical keys (musical keys → color). Here are two quotes from biographies:

Other interesting stories about Amy’s musical personality and her astounding abilities as a prodigy are recounted in almost all previous biographical writings. One such story is Amy’s association of certain colors with certain keys. For instance, Amy might ask her mother to play the ‘purple music’ or the ‘green music.’ The most popular story, however, seems to be the one about Amy’s going on a trip to California and notating on staff paper the exact pitches of bird calls she heard.

— From Jeanell Brown, p. 16.[5]

Amy’s mother encouraged her to relate melodies to the colors blue, pink, or purple, but before long Amy had a wider range of colors, which she associated with certain major keys. Thus C was white, F-sharp black, E yellow, G red, A green, A-flat blue, D-flat violet or purple, and E-flat pink. Until the end of her life she associated these colors with those keys.

— From Walter Jenkins, pp. 5-6.[6]

Leonard Bernstein[edit]

American composer and conductor (August 25, 1918 - October 14, 1990). Timbre → color synesthesia, which he talked about during his "Young People's Concerts" series (the "What is orchestration" segment).[7]

Eugen Bleuler[edit]

Swiss psychiatrist (April 30, 1857 - July 15, 1939). Originator of the term schizophrenia. Phonemes → color.[8]

Mary J. Blige[edit]

Singer-songwriter, record producer, and occasional rapper and actress.

I have that condition, synesthesia. I see music in colors. That’s how my synesthesia plays out.

— From an interview at LA Confidential [9]

Robert Cailliau[edit]

World Wide Web pioneer at CERN (January 26, 1947). His archived website includes his color-coded alphabet.[10]

Alessia Cara[edit]

Canadian singer and songwriter (born 1996). Music has colour and words have tastes

“ I don't even see it as a gift, I just see it as something that happens.”

-Alessia Cara 2017 on The Project

Jack Coulter[edit]

Artist (born April 20, 1994). Music → color

“My visual interpretation of ‘sound’ within musicality is presently stimulated when I am soulfully, aesthetically and perceptively immersed within a specific musical composition or piece of music.”

“The inner complexities of my synesthesia are truly incomprehensible - my life, vision and artistry are immersed in tetrachromatic iridescence.”

Jack Coulter interview with The Independent[11]

Antoine d'Abbadie[edit]

French geographer and explorer (January 3, 1810 - March 19, 1897). Number form synesthesia.[12]

Marina Diamandis[edit]

(Also goes by the name Marina and the Diamonds) Welsh singer-songwriter (born October 10, 1985) Multiple synesthesiae. Music and days of the week → color.[13]

Patricia Lynne Duffy[edit]

Author of first book by a synesthete about synesthesia, "Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens: How Synesthetes Color Their Worlds". Grapheme-color, time unit-color and shape.

Until one day," I said to my father, "I realized that to make an 'R', all I had to do was first write a 'P' and then draw a line down from its loop. And I was so surprised I could turn a yellow letter into an orange letter just by adding a line.

— From her book[14]

Duke Ellington[edit]

Composer and pianist (April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974). Timbre → color.

I hear a note by one of the fellows in the band and it’s one color. I hear the same note played by someone else and it’s a different color. When I hear sustained musical tones, I see just about the same colors that you do, but I see them in textures. If Harry Carney is playing, D is dark blue burlap. If Johnny Hodges is playing, G becomes light blue satin.

— Ellington, as quoted in Don George, p. 226.[15]

Sam Endicott[edit]

Lead singer of The Bravery. Music → color.

Synesthesia is when your brain sees music as colors. That is what my brain does, and these are the colors I see when I hear this song,

— From, Slow Poison video premiere[citation needed]

Richard Feynman[edit]

Physicist (May 11, 1918 – February 15, 1988). Winner of the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics. Feynman had colored letters and numbers (graphemes → color).

When I see equations, I see the letters in colors – I don't know why. As I'm talking, I see vague pictures of Bessel functions from Jahnke and Emde's book, with light-tan j's, slightly violet-bluish n's, and dark brown x's flying around. And I wonder what the hell it must look like to the students.

— From Richard Feynman, p. 59.[16]

Alexander Frey[edit]

Conductor, pianist, organist, composer. Music → color

"Sometimes, when I hear music, either as a performer or listener, a sheet of color suddenly comes across my vision. I don't know how else to describe it. I stop seeing what is actually around me in real time; the only thing I see are the colors. In fact, in a way, time actually stops during the period in which I see this sheet of color, and the colors vary according to the sound of whatever music I am hearing. For example, there is never one prescribed color that occurs every time I hear a particular harmony. Seeing a sheet of color doesn't happen every time I hear music; sometimes I see quick flashes of color. But when it happens, I feel as if I am somehow inside a miracle, the miracle of music. It's as if I have been transported to a new spiritual level in some way. It's an incredible experience, and I am always thankful when it happens!"[17]

Michel Gagné[edit]

Cartoonist, animation artist (born 1965). Music → color and movement. Creator of the synesthetic taste sequences in Disney/Pixar's "Ratatouille" (2008) and of short film "Sensology" (6 minutes - Canada/USA 2010).

Back in June 2006, Nancy and I were invited to the Vancouver International Jazz Festival by Coastal Jazz's manager of artistic programming, the amazing Rainbow Robert. That's where I heard piano improvisor, Paul Plimley for the first time. As Paul played, I closed my eyes and had an intense synesthetic experience.,

— From Gagné's website[18]

Hélène Grimaud[edit]

French pianist (born November 7, 1969). Grimaud has colored numbers (graphemes → color) and sees music in colors (music → color).

It was when I was eleven, and working on the F sharp major Prelude from the first book of Bach's Well-tempered Clavier - I perceived something that was very bright, between red and orange, very warm and vivid: an almost shapeless stain, rather like what you would see in the recording control-room if the image of sound were projected on a screen. But as numbers had always had colours for me - two was yellow, four was red, five was green - and as I have always found music evocative, I didn't regard this as unusual. It was more the idea of colour than colour itself. Certain pieces always project me into a particular colour-world. Sometimes it's a result of the tonality - C minor is black, and D minor, the key that has always been closest to me, being the most dramatic and poignant is blue.

— From Credo - Hélène Grimaud interviewed by Michael Church.[19]

Neil Harbisson[edit]

(Color → sound / sound → color) Catalan-raised, British-born[20] contemporary artist and musician (born 27 July 1982) best known for his self-extended ability to hear colours and to perceive colours outside the ability of human vision.[21] He is the first person in the world to have a cyborg antenna implanted in his skull. The antenna allows him to hear the frequencies of the colors around him and to receive colour sounds directly into his skull from external devices via wifi.[22]

Robyn Hitchcock[edit]

Singer/songwriter (born March 3, 1953). Multiple synesthiae.

A thought struck me: if my new album sounds this good on a walkman, what would Roxy Music sound like? A mere two years later I bought one and found out. However, on a train, a few years later still, I had negative synaesthesia eating a bacon sandwich and listening to a solo Ferry album, which turned me vegetarian.

— From the liner notes of the I Wanna Go Backwards box set.[23]

David Hockney[edit]

Artist (born July 9, 1937). Music → color. Hockney sees synesthetic colors to musical stimuli. In general, this does not show up in his painting or photography artwork too much. However, it is a common underlying principle in his construction of stage sets for various ballets and operas, where he bases the background colors and lighting upon his own seen colors while listening to the music of the theater piece he is working on.[24]

Greg Jarvis[edit]

Musician and founder of the Canadian Synesthesia Association. Timbre → shape.[25][26][27][28]

For me it’s all based on the timbres, so a trumpet, a piano, even if they’re playing the same note they make a different sound, and those sounds produce different shapes for me. But it’s also all noise, whether it’s a subway train or a horn honking, I see it as an abstract shape in front of me, or behind me, right around where ever the sound source is.

— From a CBC Radio interview[29]

Billy Joel[edit]

Singer/songwriter/composer (born May 9, 1949) Sound → color and grapheme → color.[30][31]

I would say the softer, more intimate songs -- there's 'Lullaby (Goodnight My Angel), 'And So It Goes,' 'Vienna' and another called, 'Summer, Highland Falls' -- when I think of different types of melodies, which are slower or softer, I think in terms of blues or greens...When I [see] a particularly vivid color, it's usually a strong melodic, strong rhythmic pattern that emerges at the same time. When I think of these songs, I think of vivid reds, oranges and golds.

— From an interview by Maureen Seaberg with Billy Joel[31]p. 89

Certain lyrics in some songs I've written, I have to follow a vowel color. A strong vowel ending, like an A or an E or an I, I associate with a very blue or a very vivid green...I think reds I associate more with consonants, a T or a P or an S. It's a harder sound. These [letters] are what I associate with reds and oranges.

— From an interview by Maureen Seaberg with Billy Joel[31]p. 91

Elvin Jones[edit]

Jazz drummer (September 9, 1927 - May 18, 2004). Music -> color.

I get images sometimes, color images. The lowest, the bass tones, the little D would be purple, the C red, F be yellow.

— From the documentary A Different Drummer, [32]


British Painter (born 1975). Music → color. Known as The Music Painter, Kilford's paintings are the physical representation of music based on the colours he sees when he hears music. His paintings are created by either painting live alongside musicians during their performances or in his studio where he either creates paintings based on individual tracks or is visited by musicians who perform as Kilford paints. Kilford has painted live alongside a wide range of musicians including Paul Weller, Robert Plant, Damon Albarn, Black Eyed Peas, Brian Eno, Deep Purple, Status Quo and The Charlatans amongst others.[33]

Brooks Kerr[edit]

Jazz pianist. Musical notes → color.

With the little bit of sight he possessed, Brooks was unable to read or to identify objects, and lead sheets remained a forever closed door to him, but he was able to differentiate colors. I remember when he first told us that in his mind’s eye every musical note was a different color and that the scale resembled a rainbow. He fingered a C on the piano, explaining, ‘This note is red.’ He hit a D. ‘This one is dark blue.’ He hit an F. ‘This is yellow.’ His finger wandered to a G. ‘This one is light blue …’

— From Don George, pp. 225-226.[34]

Ash Lieb[edit]

Artist, writer, performer (born August 22, 1982). Music → color, months + days of the week → color, Taste → Color, taste → touch.

March is a red month, April is a blue month, and for a split second in the middle, it’s a little bit purple.

— Lieb, as quoted in Surreal pop : the art of Ash Lieb, p. 17.[35]

Her voice had fallen cold. No longer pink, she had the sour purple of winter within her words.

— From The Technicolor Transgressions of the Blue Rose by Ash Lieb[36]

Franz Liszt[edit]

Composer (October 22, 1811 – July 31, 1886). Music → color.

When Liszt first began as Kapellmeister in Weimar (1842), it astonished the orchestra that he said: 'O please, gentlemen, a little bluer, if you please! This tone type requires it!' Or: 'That is a deep violet, please, depend on it! Not so rose!' First the orchestra believed Liszt just joked; more later they got accustomed to the fact that the great musician seemed to see colors there, where there were only tones.

— Anonymous, as quoted in Friedrich Mahling, p. 230. (Translation by Sean A. Day.)[37]


Singer/songwriter (b. 1996). Music → color.

When we first started tennis court we just had that pad playing the chords, and it was the worst textured tan colour, like really dated, and it made me feel sick, and then we figured out that pre chorus and i started the lyric and the song changed to all these incredible greens overnight!!!

— Lorde[38]

Marian McPartland[edit]

Jazz pianist, composer, radio personality, associates keys with colors.[39] She has stated that: "You see, nobody ever told me it was difficult to play in certain keys, like F sharp. Personally, I find C a hard key. It's very sterile to me. Somehow all the keys seem to have colors and textures. I love B and E and A and F sharp. I actually associate them with colors, but Jim Hall, the guitarist, does too, so I don't feel that ridiculous about it."[40] In another quote: "The key of D is daffodil yellow, B major is maroon, and B flat is blue."[41]

Trash McSweeney[edit]

Lead vocalist and guitarist for The Red Paintings. Chordal structure → color.[42]

Olivier Messiaen[edit]

Composer and organist (December 10, 1908 – April 27, 1992). Chordal structure → color. Olivier Messiaen was self-admittedly a synesthete, as is quite well detailed in his own writings and in interviews. Many of his compositions, such as Oiseaux Exotiques, L'ascension, and Couleurs de la cite celeste, are directly based upon his, in a sense, trying to "produce pictures" via sound, writing specific notes to produce specific color sequences and blends.[43]

Stephan Moccio[edit]

Composer, songwriter, producer, musician (b. 1972).

Do you see music? - "Oh God yes! For me, piano is a complete sensory experience. For me every key is a different colour. For me, the year 1972 is a very brown, yellow, green colour that corresponds to the D minor chord..."

— Deacon Dr. Fresh interview - July 9, 2007

Marilyn Monroe[edit]

Actress, singer and model (June 1, 1926 – August 5, 1962).

She has that displacement of the senses which others take drugs to find. So she is like a lover of rock who sees vibrations when she hears sounds.

— Norman Mailer Marilyn: A Biography p. 47[44]

Her surviving niece, the author Mona Rae Miracle, confirms Mailer's impression to synesthete journalist Maureen Seaberg in her book Tasting the Universe, although she admits they never called it synesthesia in their time: "Synesthesia is a term Marilyn and I were unaware of; in the past, we simply spoke of the characteristic experiences with terms such as 'extraordinary sensitivity' and/or 'extraordinary imagination.'"[31]p. 115

Stephanie Morgenstern[edit]

Actress and film director (born 10 December 1965). Graphemes → color; musical notes → color.[45]

A few years ago, I mentioned to a friend that I remembered phone numbers by their colour. He said "So you're a synesthete!" I hadn't heard of synesthesia (which means something close to sense-fusion') – I only knew that numbers seemed naturally to have colours: five is blue, two is green, three is red… And music has colours too: the key of C# minor is a sharp, tangy yellow, F major is a warm brown...

— Stephanie Morgenstern interview.[45]

Vladimir Nabokov[edit]

Author (April 22, 1899 – July 2, 1977). Grapheme → color. In his autobiography, Speak Memory (1966), the Russian writer Vladimir Nabokov tells us of his

fine case of colored hearing. Perhaps 'hearing' is not quite accurate, since the color sensation seems to be produced by the very act of my orally forming a given letter while I imagine its outline. The long a of the English alphabet (and it is this alphabet I have in mind farther on unless otherwise stated) has for me the tint of weathered wood, but a French a evokes polished ebony. This black group also includes hard g (vulcanized rubber) and r (a sooty rag bag being ripped). Oatmeal n, noodle-limp l, and the ivory-backed hand mirror of o take care of the whites. I am puzzled by my French on which I see as the brimming tension-surface of alcohol in a small glass. Passing on to the blue group, there is steely x, thundercloud z, and huckleberry k. Since a subtle interaction exists between sound and shape, I see q as browner than k, while s is not the light blue of c, but a curious mixture of azure and mother-of-pearl. Adjacent tints do not merge, and diphthongs do not have special colors of their own, unless represented by a single character in some other language (thus the fluffy-gray, three-stemmed Russian letter that stands for sh [Ш], a letter as old as the rushes of the Nile, influences its English representation)."
" ... In the green group, there are alder-leaf f, the unripe apple of p, and pistachio t. Dull green, combined somehow with violet, is the best I can do for w. The yellows comprise various e's and i's, creamy d, bright-golden y, and u, whose alphabetical value I can express only by 'brassy with an olive sheen.' In the brown group, there are the rich rubbery tone of soft g, paler j, and the drab shoelace of h. Finally, among the reds, b has the tone called burnt sienna by painters, m is a fold of pink flannel, and today I have at last perfectly matched v with 'Rose Quartz' in Maerz and Paul's Dictionary of Color. The word for rainbow, a primary, but decidedly muddy, rainbow, is in my private language the hardly pronounceable: kzspygv

— From Vladimir Nabokov, p. 34-35.[46]

Nabokov's mother, Elena Ivanovna, was a synesthete, as was also his wife, Véra, and his son Dmitri Nabokov.[47]

Karl Robert Osten-Sacken[edit]

Russian diplomat and entomologist (1828–1906). Number form synesthesia.[12]

Itzhak Perlman[edit]

Violinist, conductor and teacher (August 31, 1945 – present). Tone → color.

If I play a B-flat on the G string, I would say that the color for me is probably deep forest green. And if I play an A on the E string, that would be red. If I play the next B, if I look at it right now, I would say that it's yellow.

— From an interview in Tasting the Universe by Maureen Seaberg with Itzhak Perlman[31]p.53

Joachim Raff[edit]

Composer (May 27, 1822 - June 24 or 25, 1882). Timbre → color. In 1855, the composer Joachim Raff "declared that the sounds of instruments produced color impressions of various kinds. Thus the sound of a flute produced the sensation of intense azure blue; of the hautboy [oboe], yellow; cornet, green; trumpet, scarlet; the French horn, purple; and the flageolet [bassoon], grey. The clearest and most distinct shades were those evoked by the high notes" (Krohn 1892 : 22). It is unknown whether Raff was a synaesthete; he may well have been, but this small set of colored timbres does not provide enough information, without more direct claims as to where the correspondences originate from.[48]

Osmo Tapio Räihälä[edit]

Composer (January 15, 1964). Has described perceiving music in colors and shapes, and visual arts as sounds and timbres.

For me, music belongs to the visual arts. When I think about new music, I „see“ it. Instead of sounds, I imagine shapes, colours, surfaces, values etc., and only when I start the proper planning of a new work I try to change these things into sounds. However, the end result is always pure music. The same happens the other way round: when I see an impressive painting or a sculpture or practically any kind of visual artwork, I „hear“ it. It has happened to me more than often that when I‘ve seen for example a fine sculpture, its form and shape immediately brings strong sounds into my mind. I guess this is one form of synesthesia.

— Osmo Tapio Räihälä, Sikorski Magazin, 2015[49]

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov[edit]

Composer (March 6, 1844 – June 8, 1908). Musical keys → color. Rimsky-Korsakov synesthetically experienced colors for musical keys. For example, for him, the key of C major was white, and the key of B major was a gloomy dark blue with a steel shine.[50]

Geoffrey Rush[edit]

Actor (July 6, 1951). Multiple synesthesiae. Experiences colors for days of the week as well as numbers.

Friday is dark maroon, a type of sienna, and Saturday is definitely white. Monday is a cool blue... Since I was seven, when I first learnt counting, numbers had specific colours.

— Geoffrey Rush: A Man for all Seasons, May 20, 2007.[51]

Solomon Shereshevskii[edit]

Russian journalist and mnemonist (1886–1958). Multiple synesthesiae. As the subject of a book-length case study, The Mind of a Mnemonist: A Little Book About a Vast Memory, by neuropsychologist Alexander Luria, Shereshevskii was named only with the initial "S". Luria details Sherevskii's fivefold synesthesia, how he used his synesthesia to perform feats of memory, including memorizing complex mathematical formulae, huge matrices and even poems in foreign languages, and later in life, how Shereshevskii was burdened by his inability to forget even the most trivial details.

Jean Sibelius[edit]

Composer (December 8, 1865 – September 20, 1957). Sound → color.

For him there existed a strange, mysterious connection between sound and color, between the most secret perceptions of the eye and ear. Everything he saw produced a corresponding impression on his ear – every impression of sound was transferred and fixed as color on the retina of his eye and thence to his memory. And this he thought as natural, with as good reason as those who did not possess this faculty called him crazy or affectedly original."
"For this reason he only spoke of this in the strictest confidence and under a pledge of silence. 'For otherwise they will make fun of me!'

— From Karl Ekman, pp. 41-42.[52][53]

Ida Maria Børli Sivertsen[edit]

Singer/Songwriter (born July 13, 1984). Sound → color synesthesia.[54]


French singer/songwriter from Quimper, France, birth date unknown. Music → color.
In an interview with the French website Cocy [55], she states that she hears music in colours and that the colours inspire her as a composer:

"Par exemple pour Colorblind ça a commencé avec une tourne qui me parle et qui va m’évoqué le mauve foncé. Le mauve, ce sera des accords un peu tordus, des mélodies cheloues… J’ai ensuite envie d’argenté, donc j’ajoute une batterie avec des charleys explosives… J’ai ensuite eu envie de nuancer avec du bleu".

— [56]

In a live interview in the French music emission Taratata, she talks about her synesthesia. [57]

Carol Steen[edit]

Artist (born 1943) who founded the American Synesthesia Association. Steen experiences colors while viewing letters and numbers (grapheme-color synesthesia), music (timbre-color synesthesia), and (touch-color synesthesia) in response to acupuncture and pain.[58][59]

Patrick Stump[edit]

Lead singer and rhythm guitarist of Fall Out Boy (born April 27, 1984). Letters → color synesthesia.

So this isn't really news but it's come to my attention that I have a common form of synesthesia known as grapheme to color synesthesia. It is (according to Wikipedia....who are always right...right?) 'A neurologically-based phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in secondary sensory or cognitive pathway.' The shorthand is basically that your senses are crossed. Like some synthetics can 'Taste' colors or 'See' sounds. In the case of graphame to color synthetics it basically means that one interprets written information as 'Colored.' For instance the letter 'F' for me is green. When I see it written in black I obviously still notice that it is black but it 'Feels' green. Or 'S' is red. Most of the alphabet and numbers from 1-10 have some sort of associated color to me. It's ultimately totally trivial but I found it fascinating that this is a documented phenomenon and not just me being a weirdo.

— Patrick Stump's blog entry, August 18, 2008.[60][61]

Brendon Urie[edit]

Lead singer of Panic! at the Disco (born April 12, 1987). Color synesthesia.

Death of a Bachelor was a lot of bright yellows, bright reds. But it was all very Sixties, like if you've ever seen the Doors performance where there are actual doors hanging above smoke screens and the smoke is coming up. It's very Easter-ish, soft pastel colors. It's soft but bright. It's like glow-y and there are yellows and reds and dark teals that are still popping...But sometimes it's colors, sometimes it's a tornado of words and I pick one out. Sometimes it's shapes. A song could be a square and go in that perfect order. Sometimes it's a pyramid that turns into rhombus. But there are no rules and I love that. It comes from an emotional state.

— Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco interview with Rolling Stone, January 15, 2016.[62]

Daniel Tammet[edit]

Autistic savant (born January 31, 1979). Multiple synesthesiae. Grapheme → color/shape, days of the week → color, and grapheme → personality (also known as OLP, or ordinal linguistic personification).[63]

Avey Tare[edit]

Musician best known as one of the founding members of Animal Collective (born April 24, 1979). Associates sounds with visuals. When asked if he had synesthesia, Tare responded, "Yeah! Totally!"

I feel like I think about music in such visual terms that it’s hard [to not consider the visual elements]. It’s not something that I really turn on or off. It’s like even listening to a record…I mean that’s kind of why I got into music. It has always taken on a whole visual atmosphere to me.

— From his interview with Brightest Young Things.[64]

Sabriye Tenberken[edit]

Of Braille Without Borders (born 1970). Multiple synesthesiae.

Tenberken had impaired vision almost from birth, but was able to make out faces and landscapes until she was 12. As a child in Germany, she had a particular predilection for colours, and loved painting, and when she was no longer able to decipher shapes and forms she could still use colours to identify objects. Tenberken has, indeed an intense synaesthesia. "'As far back as I can remember,' she writes, 'numbers and words have instantly triggered colours in me ... number four, for example [is] gold. Five is light green. Nine is vermillion... Days of week, as well as months, have their colours, too.' Her synaesthesia has persisted and been intensified, it seems, by her blindness

Michael Torke[edit]

Composer (born September 22, 1961). Multiple synesthesiae. This claim is supported by Torke's numerous interviews with major synesthesia researchers.[66]

Vincent Van Gogh[edit]

Artist (March 30, 1853 - July 29, 1890). technique—timbre synesthete. [67][68][69]

Eddie Van Halen[edit]

Guitarist (born January 26, 1955). Sound → color.[47]

Pharrell Williams[edit]

Hip-hop producer and artist (born April 5, 1973). Music → color.

It just always stuck out in my mind, and I could always see it. I don't know if that makes sense, but I could always visualize what I was hearing... Yeah, it was always like weird colors.

— From a Nightline interview with Pharrell


Stevie Wonder[edit]

Singer/songwriter and record producer (born May 13, 1950). Sound → color.[47]

Kanye West[edit]

Rapper, record producer, director and fashion designer (born June 8, 1977). Music → color.[70][71][72]

Yeezus, though, was the beginning of me as a new kind of artist. Stepping forward with what I know about architecture, about classicism, about society, about texture, about synesthesia—the ability to see sound—and the way everything is everything and all these things combine, and then starting from scratch with Yeezus.

— From Steve McQueen interview with Kanye West

Charli XCX[edit]

Singer-songwriter (born August 2, 1992). Music → color.[73]

I see music in colours. I love music that's black, pink, purple or red - but I hate music that's green, yellow or brown.

— XCX speaking with BBC.

Hans Zimmer[edit]

Composer and record producer (born September 12, 1957). Color → music.[74]

It's like he starts talking, [and] I have to score it. [I] just start hearing colors, and he's a painter—he sees colors—I hear colors.

— Hans Zimmer speaking with Alex Billington

Billie Eilish[edit]

Singer, songwriter (born December 18, 2001) Music → color

"Instead of thinking 'Well, how can you hear something that sounds like a feeling?' You can. If you let yourself.... I match everything with a color, a number, a day of the week, with a shape... but so every time I create something, I'm already thinking what color is it? what day of the week? what number is it?"

-Billie Eilish [75]

Maggie Rogers[edit]

Musician and Singer-songwriter (born April 25, 1994) Music → color [76]


Proposed others that are still under review[edit]

  • Syd Barrett (January 6, 1946 - July 7, 2006), composer, artist; multiple synesthesiae.
  • Justin Chancellor, bassist of Tool, states on Facebook that he has synesthesia.
  • Bob Dylan (May 24, 1941), musician, sound to color based on this quote from "Celebritytypes": "I don't know if I call myself a poet or not. ... It's more of a visual type of thing for me. I could picture the color of the song." [80]
  • Geoff Emerick, recording engineer, described sound tones in terms of colours.
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, writer, describes colours experienced by the protagonist upon hearing a female character's voice in "Rapaccini's Daughter."
  • Jimi Hendrix (November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970), musician.
  • Victor Hugo (26 February 1802 – 22 May 1885), writer.
  • Michael Jackson, "It is likely Jackson has synesthesia, he told me he views music like I how I view music–in shapes and colors"[81]
  • Richard D. James aka Aphex Twin (born August 18, 1971), English electronic music artist; musical sounds and words → colour.
  • Wassily Kandinsky (December 16, 1866 – December 13, 1944), painter.
  • John Mayer (October 16, 1977), musician, sound to color.
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher. (In the Genealogy of Morality, he describes Schopenhauer's words as "green and black.")
  • Frank Ocean, American singer/songwriter (b. 1987).[82]
  • Adil Omar, rapper/singer-songwriter with sound and color synesthesia.
  • Fernando Pessoa, Portuguese poet/writer (1888-1935).
  • Jarosław Pijarowski, Polish avant-garde artist and founder of Theater of Creation (Teatr Tworzenia). He creates contemporary music, poetry, photography, fine arts and theatre-music spectacles.
  • Anthony Powell (December 21, 1905 - March 28, 2000), writer.
  • Dean Radin, scientist, author; color to sound.[83]
  • Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart, German poet and musician. Wrote Ideen zu einer Aesthetik der Tonkunst (1806) about Affective Key characteristics.
  • Nikola Tesla, A Croatian-born, American inventor of a Serbian origin. Hypersensitive, uncanny visualization ability.[84]
  • Gabrielle Thierry, French artist, has been exploring visual methods for interpreting musical dimensions of painting.Landscapes reveal their rhythms and harmonies, allowing her to translate paintings into colored music scores. See also the "Musical Qualities of Water Lilies, a colored music score transcribed on canvas", paintings inspired by Claude Monet's Panels at the Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris.
  • Timbaland "See when I do music, I see it in colors. I see it in stages. I see the world, I see the people as colors."[85]
  • Devin Townsend, Canadian musician, frequently relates sound to colors and numbers in interviews and demonstrations.
  • Ludwig Wittgenstein, philosopher (1889–1951) Possible case of grapheme–colour synaesthesia, based on this quote from the book Zettel: "It’s just like the way some people do not understand the question 'What color has the vowel A for you?'"
  • Frank Lloyd Wright (June 8, 1867 – April 9, 1959), architect, claimed to hear music sometimes while designing buildings.
  • Yevgeny Zamyatin, (February 1, 1884 – March 10, 1937), writer. Potential grapheme-colour synaesthete. Once told artist Yuri Annenkov the qualities he ascribed to each letter. "L is pale, cold, light blue, liquid, light. R is loud, bright, red, hot, fast. N is tender, snow, sky, night D & T are stifling, grave, foggy, obscuring, stagnant. M is kind, soft, motherly, sea-like. A is wide, distant, ocean, misty mirage, breadth of scope. O is high, deep, sea-like, bosom. I is close, low, pressing."[86]


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