What exactly am I talking about? Well, think of a letter, or a number, or a word, or a sound, or a name, or a song, or any sort of idea. Is there a colour (or colours) your mind assigns to it? Is it potent? Is it vague? As unusual as this discussion is, I’ll give you a few examples of how it works in my head.
“I picked maths, geography, politics and classics for my A-levels.”
If you haven’t work it out, those are the colours my mind naturally applies when I hear (or read) of those subjects. There is some reasoning behind it, for instance, my primary school maths book was yellow. My geography book has been green quite a few times, and the whole ‘Earth’ thing might add to it. For interest, biology is also green due to the actual subject.
“He was born in the early 1930s, did a lot of his work during the 1950s, and consequently received an honorary degree just before the financial crisis of the late 2000s.”
And here are the colours my mind assigns to a few decades (for the record, the 1930s are actually pinker in my head). When I think of a timeline of the twentieth century (for whatever reason), those colours slightly merge as one decade ends as the other begins. As I formatted that quote, I ran into a small discovery, which I will explain in this next example.
“I’ve been a proud mother since my early 20s, and at the grand age of 30 I now have 5 beautiful children.”
Any pattern? The main numbers are the same colour. To develop this, something like the year 1954 would be like that (but not as well defined). I have a vague memory in childhood of equating the number 5 with the colour blue…
I could give you many more examples, but you’re probably freaked out and/or sick of this. All the better to give a brief outline to how this thing works for music. Well, I suppose it’s something similar to what you get when you play music on Windows Media Player, with those colours moving as the song changes and whatnot. For me, synthesisers invoke most of the colour in my head (e.g., red dashes in a black background for Baba O’Riley, yellow-brown pulses for Won’t Get Fooled Again, light blue rays and fields for Radio Ga Ga), Instruments will affect the colour as well, it depends on how fancy they are (Sgt. Pepper songs produce an array of bright colours, while early Beatles songs don’t produce much).
It’s important to note that I don’t actually physically see these colours, they’re just something attached when thinking of the idea. As mentioned at the very beginning, it has been told of those who have been able to see the colours of music, and they’ll be the ones writing a book about the topic as opposed to a very weird post.