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Friday, November 16, 2007

Seeing colors in music

Staying in the musical theme today, I'm interested in reading this new book by Oliver Sacks, which explores how music occupies more area in our brains than language and the neurological outcomes of our inherent musicality.
"In Musicophilia, he examines the powers of music through the individual experiences of patients, musicians, and everyday people--from a man who is struck by lightning and suddenly inspired to become a pianist at the age of forty-two, to an entire group of children with Williams syndrome who are hypermusical from birth; from people with "amusia," to whom a symphony sounds like the clattering of pots and pans, to a man whose memory spans only seven seconds--for everything but music."
I stayed with my sister in Columbus this week. Her daughter, Natalie, who turns five on Thanksgiving, has some unusual musical qualities. She has perfect pitch and can drum incredibly complex rhythms, something she has done since she was very young. She often uses music to communicate. But her latest use of music is fascinating and something I'd like to explore further for an article.

Jen was telling me that she likes to listen to Enya on the way to school in the morning. This week Natalie told her mom that she wanted to listen to "The Red Song." Jen didn't know what she meant so she scanned through the CD until Natalie indicated she had the right one. She was happy with The Red Song, but when the next song came on, she told her mom, "I don't like The Blue Song."

Natalie sees colors in music. She's a fascinating little girl and I always wonder what she's thinking. Maybe this new book will provide some insight.


Michelle O'Neil said...

Sooo interesting!

My daughter (who is on the autism spectrum) is very gifted musically as well. She has not mentioned colors (I'll have to ask her) but she is able to hear harmonies to music that she is only listening to for the first time. She can also learn new songs in one listen. And her sense of musical timing and rythym is amazing, though her motor delays combined with perfectionism inhibit her musical instrument playing.

Natalie sounds like an amazing little girl.

I'll have to check out the Sacks book. Thanks!

Wendy Hoke said...

We talked about this once and it is fascinating. Someone told me yesterday that Sacks was on NPR talking about his book recently. I'm going to see if I can find a link.