Art by Melissa McCracken. David Bowie, "Life on Mars."

Artist Melissa McCracken has chromesthesia, a form of synesthesia allowing her to listen to music and paint a canvas of colors and patterns she sees in the songs.

How music and colors join together as one

About 4% of the world’s population has some variant of synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon that can combine senses together, causing one to experience colors when listening to music or being able to match a smell to a word. 

“When I listen to music (especially Radiohead) colors appear in my mind’s eye. Sometimes colors look like they’re layered on top of each other but not combined,” Jacqueline Cordes (‘21) said. “For example, [I see] blue and yellow but not green.”  

Jacqueline also has chromesthesia, allowing her to see these aforementioned colors when she listens to her songs. She also has a YouTube channel, where one of her videos give a visual representation of what colors she sees in that song.  

Here’s an example of a recreation I made for the colors I see in a Rachmaninoff piece,” Jacqueline said. 

I do not possess this fantastical power, but colors are already an art form of their own. People have been utilizing colors to represent feelings in many forms of art since the dawn of time. To me, colors can convey moods, hidden meanings, and speak volumes because of its range even if you do not have synesthesia. One’s imagination can take them far enough to feel the colors in any song. 

Building off the connections between colors and music, I present to you, my color-associated playlist of all genres ranging from classical to R&B 

Here is the playlist with the most honorable mentions for each color along with the others in the same category: 

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