The Colour and Flavour of sound

Exploring Synesthesia

April 26, 2024

Have you ever felt the taste of words or seen music dancing before your eyes? 

This is the fascinating world of Synesthesia, where the stimulation of one sense will trigger another.


At its core, synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory pathway leads to involuntary experiences in another. Imagine hearing a word and instantly seeing a burst of vibrant colours or tasting a flavour and feeling a specific texture on your skin.

Synesthesia comes in many forms, each offering a unique glimpse into the rich tapestry of human perception. Some individuals may experience grapheme-color synesthesia, where letters and numbers are inherently associated with specific colours, while others might encounter chromesthesia, where sounds evoke vivid visual experiences.

Our sense of taste can be influenced by sound. According to a study, listening to high-pitched music makes food seem sweeter, while listening to low-pitched music makes food seem more bitter. The study included a section on flavour and crispness. The research team discovered that diners’ perceptions of crunchiness increased as background noise volume rose!


While synesthesia may fill life with a sense of wonder, it can also come with its own set of challenges, particularly when it comes to sound sensitivities. For many synesthetes, certain sounds can be overwhelming or even distressing. The sound of pots and pans in the kitchen can not only feel like a thunderstorm in your ears but it might also bring spiky shapes to your sight. The annoying hum of fluorescent lights might also cause you to see irritating shapes and colours.

In navigating these sound sensitivities, awareness and understanding are key, and by recognising them, we can create environments that foster comfort and well-being. Whether it's utilising earplugs and quiet spaces for retreat, offering products like Calmer® to mitigate auditory overload or providing high quality audio in the form of earphones and speakers - small adjustments can make a world of difference. By shining a light on this often-misunderstood phenomena, we can encourage a greater sense of understanding, helping us work together to create a world that celebrates diversity and inclusion.


Some of your favourite musicians are part of this unique club...

Pharrell Williams: The "Happy" hitmaker himself! Pharrell experiences synesthesia, which he says helps him create music that not only sounds great but is also visually stunning in his mind.

Billy Joel: The Piano Man himself! Billy Joel has synesthesia, and when he's composing his legendary tunes, he sees colours dancing along with the music.

Kanye West: This rap superstar has been known to talk about seeing colors when he hears certain sounds or music. 

Lorde: The queen of alt-pop has synesthesia, and she's mentioned how certain sounds evoke specific colours and textures for her. 

"Calmer is the first line of defense for me whenever I am out and about with friends and can't wear traditional earplugs or noise cancelling headphones.

I can more easily ignore the visuals that would intrude my mind's eye from environmental sounds because their edges are softer and more blended, and I can focus better on conversations. I get overstimulated less quickly as well, which is a giant plus!"- @zoesthesia

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