(S)yn(e)sth(e)te is an album and concert program which explores the relation between sound and color, the streams of colors from blue to orange. Synesthesia in music has been associated with composers throughout the history of music. Interestingly, many composers and musicians have specific associations with certain pitches and keys – E major, C minor, D major, etc – that can be drastically different from one another, or surprisingly similar. My synesthesia came on gradually, starting with certain notes and colors, but leading to connections with more impressionistic-like watercolors, that is, more of light and shadow, and the blended tones of colors. One thing is certain: synesthesia is an extremely personal experience to synesthetes.

In this program, I explore the different synesthetic experiences from a range of composers. For me, it is a stream of colors and moods, with the direction from blue to orange. Wollschleger’s Blue Inscription, Debussy’s slow Étude of fourths and Ligeti’s Second Étude are for me the blossoming of flowers as seen through the lens of time-lapse photography. The swift brushes of Debussy’s eight-finger Étude, the strong colors of Ligeti’s vehement Disordre and the spatial, sometimes-floral-sometimes-dark pieces by Kurtág remind me of Chiaroscuro. Akiho’s Crimson and Messiaen’s orange-infused music brings a kind of euphoria. For me, each composer has a highly individual synesthesia with each piece, introducing a different kind of association between sound and color. My wish is that the listener to explore this music, and discover their own personal synesthesia.

Are you a (s)yn(e)sth(e)te? Can you see?

Visit the (S)yn(e)sth(e)te Amazon page to learn more about the album.


Works on the “(S)yn(e)sth(e)te” program include:

Scott Wollschleger, Blue Inscription
Claude Debussy, Pour les quartes (12 Études pour le piano, III)
Claude Debussy, Pour les huit doigts (12 Études pour le piano, VI)
Andy Akiho, Karakurenai (Crimson) for prepared piano
György Ligeti, Cordes à Vide (Études pour piano, premier livre, II)
György Ligeti, Désórdre (Études pour piano, premier livre, I)
György Kurtág, Bells for Margit Mándy (Játékok, Book V)
György Kurtág, Les Adieux in Janáceks Manier (Játékok, Book VI)
György Kurtág, Shadow-Play: Hommage à Somlyó György (Játékok, Book III)
György Kurtág, Quiet Talk with the Devil (Játékok, Book III)
Olivier Messiaen, Cantéyodjayâ