“Music gives color to the air of the moment.”  This quote, by the talented and highly opinionated creative legend, Karl Lagerfeld, captures the enriching essence of music and also perfectly highlights our March editorial theme, colors.

Perhaps there’s more to this quote than meets the ear.  I pay a lot of attention to audio detail these days, and several years ago I became fascinated with the sensory linkage between music and color.  I’ve always believed that our senses are somewhat connected, for example if you try to visualize a particular sound, it may have a natural “brightness” or “coolness” to it.  There’s a fascinating and rare neurologic phenomenon, called synesthesia, which I’ve always been intrigued by, and it’s been getting a little more attention recently as certain music artists have acknowledged they have the condition (in particular, Pharrell, Hans Zimmer, Lorde, Stevie Wonder… just to name a few of my favorites).  Synesthesia, in a nutshell, is a condition where the senses are essentially intertwined.

People with musical synesthesia often see colors when they hear a particular musical note or timbre, enabling them to visualize sound.

Some musicians actually create their musical compositions based on their involuntary abilities to put together sonic color palettes.  For them, making music is like loading a canvas with paint.  How cool is that?  Just think if you could be surrounded in color every time you heard or played a song?  Life would quite literally be a lot more colorful.

While synesthesia is quite rare (one in 2,000 people have it), I encourage you to explore this colorful, cross-perceptual phenomenon.  In celebration of color and the full spectrum of emotion it adds to life, I’ve curated a playlist (or more appropriately, a sonic color palette) of my preferred color-infused tunes and favorite synesthetic artists.  Tune in below, and when you listen, try closing your eyes from time to time and tap into the color each song or musical note evokes.  It will be a fun way to explore music in a new way and find out what songs are quite literally more colorful than others.   Enjoy!

image by nicole mlakar for camille styles

Jamie Pabst is the Camille Styles Music Editor, NYC-based DJ and music entrepreneur.

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