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Musical-Space Synaesthesia: Visualisation of Musical Texture

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I, Svetlana Rudenko, am a concert pianist. I am also a synaesthete and for me, sound is visual. It has shape. According to recent research (Akiva-Kabiri et al., 2014, pp. 17–29): “In musical-space synaesthesia, …unlike the vertical and horizontal representation of musical pitch tones in the general population, synaesthetes describe a linear diagonal organisation of pitch tones.” Different piano sounds have aroma and texture. The forms I have lived with since childhood are what I call ‘sound landscapes’. I am not alone. Composers such as Liszt, Scriabin, Gubaidulina and Messiaen, as well as artists such as de Córdoba Serrano and Ninghui Xiong, also experienced these impressions. This paper will explore synaesthetic experiences of musical texture, visualisation of sound and tactile sensations of musical texture as well as enhanced cross-modal associations. On the basis of my experiences, I argue that the visualisation of musical texture influences sound perception and even timing: phrases, dynamics and the whole interpretation.

Affiliations: 1: 1Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Granada, Spain ; 2: 2School of Computer Science and Statistics, Trinity College Dublin, College Green, Dublin, Ireland

*To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail:

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