List of people with synesthesia

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This is a list of notable people who have claimed to have 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).

Estimates of prevalence of synesthesia have ranged widely, from 1 in 4 to 1 in 25,000 - 100,000. However, most studies have relied on synesthetes reporting themselves, introducing self-referral bias.[1]

Media outlets including Pitchfork have critically noted the considerable numbers of musical artists from the 2010s onwards claiming to be synesthetes, observing that "without literally testing every person who comes out in the press as a synesthete, it’s exceedingly difficult to tell who has it and who is lying through their teeth for cultural cachet" and that claims of experiencing synesthesia can be employed "as an express route to creative genius".[2]


Name Type Lifespan Country Profession Quote Notes Source
Alessia Cara Multiple b. 1996  Canada Singer-songwriter [3]
Charli XCX Sound to color b. 1992  England Singer-songwriter [4]
Jennifer Cook O'Toole Multiple b. 1975  United States Author [5]
Jack Coulter Sound to color b. 1994  Northern Ireland Artist [6]
Marina Diamandis Multiple b. 1985  Wales Singer-songwriter [7]
Patricia Lynne Duffy Unspecified Unknown Unknown Author Wrote Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens, the first book by a synesthete about synesthesia.

Co-founded the American Synesthesia Association.

Billie Eilish Multiple b. 2001  United States Singer-songwriter
Kanye West Multiple b. 1977  United States Rapper, singer-songwriter, record producer, fashion designer [9]
Duke Ellington Sound to color 1899-1974  United States Composer, pianist, bandleader
David Hockney Multiple b. 1937  England Artist, stage designer, photographer [10]
Greg Jarvis Sound to shape Unknown  Canada Musician Founded the Canadian Synesthesia Association. [11][12]
Billy Joel Multiple b. 1949  United States Singer-songwriter, composer, pianist "[W]hen 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, or golds." [13][14]
Ash Lieb Unspecified b. 1982  Australia Artist, author, comedian [15]
Bloem de Ligny Multiple b. 1978  Netherlands Singer [16]
Franz Liszt Sound to color 1811-1886  Hungary Composer, pianist "Oh, please, gentlemen, a little bluer, if you please! This key requires it!" [17][18][13]
Lorde Sound to color b. 1996  New Zealand Singer-songwriter [19]
Ida Maria Sound to color b. 1984  Norway Singer-songwriter [20]
Marian McPartland Sound to color 1918-2013  England/ United States Jazz pianist [21]
Bea Miller Sound to color b. 1999  United States Singer-songwriter, actress [22]
Stephanie Morgenstern Multiple b. 1965  Canada Actress, filmmaker [23]
Finneas O'Connell Unspecified b. 1997  United States Musician, record producer, actor [9]
Adil Omar Multiple b. 1991  Pakistan Singer-songwriter, record producer [24]
Andy Partridge Multiple b. 1953  England Singer-songwriter, musician [25][26]
Itzhak Perlman Sound to shape b. 1945  Israel/ United States Violinist, conductor, music teacher [14]
Osmo Tapio Räihälä Sound to shape b. 1964  Finland Composer [27]
Maggie Rogers Sound to color b. 1994  United States Singer-songwriter, record producer [28]
Jean Sibelius Unspecified 1865-1957  Finland Composer, violinist [13]
Carol Steen Multiple b. 1943  United States Artist Co-founded the American Synesthesia Association. [29][30]
Daniel Tammet Unspecified b. 1979  England Author [31]
Brendon Urie Multiple b. 1987  United States Singer [32]
Sabrina Vlaškalić Multiple 1989-2019  Serbia Classical guitarist [33]
Richard Wagner Sound to color 1813-1883  Germany Composer, theatre director, conductor [14]
Pharrell Williams Sound to color b. 1973  United States Singer, rapper, songwriter, record producer, fashion designer "The ability to see and feel [this way] was a gift given to me that I did not have to have. And if it was taken from me suddenly I'm not sure that I could make music. ... I wouldn't have a measure to understand [it]."[14]

"I thought all kids had mental, visual references for what they were hearing."[14]




  1. ^ Simner, Julia; Hubbard, Edward M., eds. (2013). "A brief history of synesthesia research". Oxford Handbook of Synesthesia. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 13–17. ISBN 978-0-19-960332-9. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Alessia Cara Discusses Having Synesthesia".
  4. ^ Savage, Mark (12 December 2013). "BBC News - Charli XCX: Pop, punk and synaesthesia". BBC News.
  5. ^ Cook O'Toole, Jennifer (4 December 2018). Autism in Heels: The Untold Story of a Female Life on the Spectrum. ISBN 9781510732858.
  6. ^ "Synesthesia artist Jack Coulter creates 'musical painting' of Glastonbury". 20 June 2016.
  7. ^ "Trust Your Gut: An Interview With Marina and the Diamonds". Rookie. 25 February 2015.
  8. ^ Duffy, Patricia Lynne (2011-04-01). Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens: How Synesthetes Color Their Worlds. Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 9781429928274.
  9. ^ a b "What the Hell Is Synesthesia and Why Does Every Musician Seem to Have It?". Retrieved 2020-10-23.
  10. ^ see Cytowic, Richard E. 2002. Synaesthesia: a Union of the Senses. Second edition. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.
  11. ^ Everett-Green, Robert (Dec 3, 2010). "For Musician With Synaethesia, The Cello Can Sound Too Fury. Or Too Red". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved December 3, 2015.
  12. ^ "Life with synesthesia: Toronto man who can see sounds shares his story". Archived 2015-12-08 at the Wayback Machine January 28th 2015, Metro – Toronto Edition.
  13. ^ a b c d MITCHELL, KEVIN J. (2018). Innate: How the Wiring of Our Brains Shapes Who We Are. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-17388-7. JSTOR j.ctvc77m71.
  14. ^ a b c d e f Seaberg, Maureen. Tasting the Universe.
  15. ^ Lieb, Ash. 2015. "Note: 10001". Retrieved 2019-12-14.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Cytowic, Richard E. (2009). Wednesday is indigo blue : discovering the brain of synesthesia. Eagleman, David. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. p. 93. ISBN 978-0-262-25483-0. OCLC 317116544.
  18. ^ Liu, Annie (Yen-Ling) (2013). "Listening as Gazing: Synaesthesia and the Double Apotheosis in Franz Liszt's "Hunnenschlacht"". Studia Musicologica. 54 (4): 379–388. doi:10.1556/SMus.54.2013.4.4. ISSN 1788-6244. JSTOR 43289733.
  19. ^ Times, Music (2015-10-17). "Lorde Talks Curly Hair, Synesthesia & Wanting to be a Comedian in Tumblr Chat". Music Times. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  20. ^ "Ida Maria". The List. 2008-05-22. Retrieved 2020-03-17.
  21. ^ Hasson, Claire. A Discussion Of Marian McPartland's Style Archived 2009-07-23 at the Wayback Machine in Marian McPartland: Jazz Pianist: An Overview of a Career
  22. ^ Kelley, Caitlin (2017-10-10). "Takeover Tuesday: Bea Miller Paints Things 'Yellow' With Upbeat EP-Inspired Playlist". Retrieved 2020-03-17.
  23. ^ see Raskin, Richard. 2003. An interview with Stephanie Morgenstern and Mark Ellis on Remembrance. P.O.V., A Danish Journal of Film Studies; number 15 (March): 170-184.
  24. ^
  25. ^ Montagna, John (10 February 2018). "A Prediction: "This Is Pop" Will Pull in New Fans for XTC". Culture Sonar. Retrieved 10 October 2020. We learn about [...] [Partridge's] own synesthesia.
  26. ^ Sheppard, Amanda (22 May 2019). "Q: WHAT DO YOU CALL THAT NOISE? A: XTC!". Please Kill Me. Retrieved 10 October 2020. Andy Partridge does talk about the synesthesia, which is this idea that he’ll taste sounds and hear pictures, you know, one thing transfers to the other and that theme kept popping up in a lot of the interviews that people were just making that connection between XTC’s music.
  27. ^
  28. ^ "Pharrell Williams Masterclass with Students at NYU Clive Davis Institute".
  29. ^ Steen, C. (2001). "Visions Shared: A Firsthand Look into Synesthesia and Art" (PDF). Leonardo. MIT Press. 34 (3): 203–208. doi:10.1162/002409401750286949.
  30. ^ "American Synesthesia Association Official website". American Synesthesia Association. November 19, 2010. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
  31. ^ Tammet, Daniel. 2006. "Born on a Blue Day." London: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd.
  32. ^ Spanos, Brittany (2016-01-15). "Panic! at the Disco: Band Is 'Outlet for Nonchalant Chaos'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  33. ^ Retrieved 2019-12-20. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  34. ^ a b Dann, Kevin T. 1998. Bright Colors Falsely Seen: Synaesthesia and the Search for Transcendental Knowledge. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
  35. ^ B. M. Galeyev and I. L. Vanechkina (August 2001). "Was Scriabin a Synesthete?". Leonardo; Vol. 34, Issue 4, pp. 357 - 362.
  36. ^ Scriabin, Alexander. 1995(1911). "Poem of Ecstasy" and "Prometheus: Poem of Fire". New York: Dover.