is a specific type of synesthesia
, in which the person afflicted "sees" colors when a tone is sounded. This is a write up of a longitudinal case study conducted by Paul A. Haack and Rudolph E. Radocy in four interviews and testing sessions over the course of five years, from 1974-1979. The woman in the center of the study, referred to as "D," answered questions pertaining to her chromesthesia. D also has absolute pitch
The subject of this study was a middle-aged woman given the name "D."Materials
A Johnson Intonation Trainer pitch keyboard was used to ask D which colors were emitted when a sound was played.Procedure
Various tests were performed for D, in which her responses were recorded and saved for comparison five years later. In the first test, several notes (A, B, C, D, E, and F) were played for D, which she stated emitted the colors lavender, orange, red, blue, green, brown, and black, respectively. She noted that higher octaves emitted lighter color intensities while the lower octaves were darker. Also, the black pitches had the greatest color intensity and flat or sharp colors tended to blend together.
A "'siren scale' sequence" (when the notes C, G, A, C are played in that order) was played for her on the Johnson Intonation Trainer keyboard; she responded that the usual colors appeared, but there was a "white interference" about a quarter of the way through each tone in the scale.
When arpeggios were played for D, she related the colors to "fireworks exploding," although the color from the first "root note" tended to overshadow the others.
The level of loudness also seemed to play a part in the color's saturation; when the sound increased, so did color saturation. Different timbres did not effect the saturation of color, but she saw different sensations of the same basic hue when various timbre contexts sounded. The color also remained the same in different tempos.
Five years after the study was first conducted, D was retested; her responses were 100% consistent with the data from her initial testing. The only inconsistency from before was D's absolute pitch, possibly due to illness and passage of time.
"A Case Study of a Chromestetic"
Paul A. Haack; Rudolf E. Radocy
Journal of Research in Music Education, Vol. 29, No. 2. (Summer, 1981), pp. 85-90.
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