Watch: Pianist with Synesthesia Performs Bach in Living Color

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 10:49 AM

Evan Shinners, the charismatic young pianist who was an audience favorite at WQXR's Beethoven Sonata Marathon in November, has released a video intended to illustrate his experiences with synesthesia. 

The video features a hallucinogenic sequence of flashing colors as Shinners romps through a Bach fugue on a creaky upright piano. Synesthesia, the association of colors with particular sounds or harmonies, has been claimed by classical musicians from Liszt and Messiaen to the pianist Helene Grimaud.

Shinners, a 25-year-old Juilliard School graduate, is known for using the Internet as a promotional tool, maintaining an active blog and using the online fundraising site Rockethub to fund his 2011 Bach recording. The Bach video was posted Monday on Boingboing.net.

Watch below and share your reaction. Do you associate certain keys, harmonies or sounds with colors?

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Comments [3]

Mike from NJ

I wonder what Liszt would have heard when he looked at those pants.

Mar. 21 2012 01:56 AM
ckk from Gotham ...

It's nice to know that Bach's in GOOD hands ... GREAT hands ...

Mar. 20 2012 02:28 PM
marion from NYC

I love that Evan Shinners used technology to show his experience of synesthesia with music! To those of us who do not experience music-based synesthesia, it's fascinating to get a visual sense of his experience. (And, for those who do have music-based synesthesia, I would imagine it's very interesting to see how another music synesthete experiences music.)

Synesthesia refers to more than just the association of music with color and includes a variety of associations among sensations, including touch, taste, feel, colors, music, words, numbers and more. Last month, the LA Times published a great article about a variety of forms of synesthesia: http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-synesthesia-brain-20120220,0,6760571.story. Dr. Richard Cytowic's books (Wednesday is Indigo Blue and The Man Who Tasted Shapes) are also excellent introductions to synesthesia.

Mar. 20 2012 12:55 PM

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