What if you heard a piano concerto whenever you saw the color pink? Or tasted blueberries when you saw the numeral 7? How about describing the smell of a hyacinth as a series of concentric circles?
Believe it or not, some of us do just that. Synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon that combines two (or more!) of our five senses into one experience. It’s thought to only affect 4% of the general population and occurs most commonly in right-brain dominant people.
To Mozart, the key of D Major sounded “orange”. Jimi Hendrix saw colors associated with sounds as well, and one chord became the inspiration for his famous song “Purple Haze”. Vladimir Nabokov experienced the letters of the alphabet in terms of color.
Most of us experience synesthesia to some degree when we smell a fragrance or sip an exceptional wine: it can be a such heady experience that it summons up our other senses. Which is why we see such descriptors as “wet grass” for perfume, or “angular” and “velvety” to describe certain wines.