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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000351.txt from 2003/06

From: "Dr. Laroy Borchert" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Keys and their character/synesthesia
Date: Wed, 11 Jun 2003 14:22:44 -0400

As part of my doctoral treatise, which involved mental imagery, I did some
research on synesthesia/chromesthesia. The title of my treatise is "An
Overview of Music and Mental Imagery With A Pilot Study on the Relative
Effects of an Instructional Guide, Image Guide, and Practice on the Musical
Accuracy of Undergraduate Clarinetists." (I won't win the longest title
contest, but I would be in the running).
Synesthesia (also synaesthesia) is a term where an experience in one
sensory mode is also experienced in another unrelated mode. A simple
example would be a plant that "smelled green." Early surveys by Macdonald
Critchley indicated that approximately 12% of the population had the
capacity to associate colors with sounds.
In brief, there ARE people who see keys or notes in colors and composers
who favored keys for their sonic "color" characteristics. The difficulty,
from a scientific/research perspective, comes in trying to compare those
BETWEEN people. There has been no established pattern to the colors or keys
based on their respective colors; it varies by individual. What one
composer/musician may feel about the characteristics of a particular key is
not necessarily what someone else may feel. There is also little or no
correlation among the known examples of poetic and anecdotal research
dealing with synesthesia.
Dr. Laroy Borchert
Professor of Clarinet
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, NM 88003
(505) 646-3735

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