Saturday, July 28, 2012

Synaesthete musician featured in the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony

“Music represents life. A particular piece of music may describe a real, fictional or abstract scene from almost any area of human experience or imagination. It is the musicians job to paint a picture which communicates to the audience the scene the composer is trying to describe.”

“The several hundred articles and reviews written about me every year add up to a total of many thousands, only a handful accurately describe my hearing impairment.”

“For some reason we tend to make a distinction between hearing a sound and feeling a vibration, in reality they are the same thing.”

“It is worth pointing out at this stage that I am not totally deaf, I am profoundly deaf.”

“Eventually I managed to distinguish the rough pitch of notes by associating where on my body I felt the sound with the sense of perfect pitch I had before losing my hearing. The low sounds I feel mainly in my legs and feet and high sounds might be particular places on my face, neck and chest.”

“So far we have the hearing of sounds and the feeling of vibrations. There is one other element to the equation, sight. We can also see items move and vibrate. If I see a drum head or cymbal vibrate or even see the leaves of a tree moving in the wind then subconsciously my brain creates a corresponding sound.”

“I need to lip-read to understand speech but my awareness of the acoustics in a concert venue is excellent. For instance, I will sometimes describe an acoustic in terms of how thick the air feels.”

– some quotes by Dame Evelyn Glennie taken from her fascinating, clear and concise1993 Hearing Essay

Even though Dame Evelyn has described what appears to be a collection of different types of synesthetic experiences, including an interesting combination of perfect pitch with pitch-body part synaesthesia, she has not used the word synaesthesia once in this essay. In fact, I have failed to find any mention of synaesthesia anywhere in her personal website. All the same, her writing gives me the impression that she would have a tougher time trying to imagine the experiences of a non-synaesthete than she would have trying to imagine the experiences of a fully hearing person.

Glennie, Evelyn (1993) Hearing essay.

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