Synesthesia and Music Performance
Source TitleThe Oxford Handbook of Music Performance, Volume 1
PublisherOxford University Press
University of Melbourne Author/sGlasser, Solange
CitationsGlasser, S. (2022). Synesthesia and Music Performance. McPherson, GE (Ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Music Performance, Volume 1, (1), pp.670-688. Oxford University Press.
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Synesthesia is a rare neurological condition that occurs more frequently in populations of artistic professionals, with many well-known examples in music. For musicians with synesthesia, their musical journey and development are shaped by the way they connect music and sounds with color, shape, taste, or any other perceptual modality. This chapter therefore attempts to provide information on the impact of synesthesia on music performance by describing musicians’ lived experiences and highlighting the multiplicity of experiences and behavioral outcomes of this group of artists. Six key features are reviewed: preference for specific musical styles, choice of repertoire or music listening, compositional choices, choice of instrument or instrumentation, musical interpretation, and instrumental technique. By studying the impact of synesthesia on various aspects of music performance and describing the lived-world experiences of a unique section of the musical population, the chapter provides both synesthete and non-synesthete musicians with insights into this condition and the range of perceptual responses to music that musicians experience, and what synesthesia may reveal about musical development more generally.
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