One of the most amazing senses we possess is the ability to see a variety of colors and textures. The color spectrum is vast and the normal human eye can pick up more than 360 different hues, giving amazing depth and beauty to our perceptual intake. According to some traditions, each color also has a sound or frequency which correlates. But what if you could hear the colors you see at the same time? What would that be like? For one man who was born without the ability to see colors other than black and white, technology allows him this amazing ability, he hears rather than sees colors.
In the yogic tradition, each energy center in the body, located along the spinal chord, is associated with both a certain color and a sound. The sound is thought to be the manifestation of the color and in experiments it has been shown that certain tones can align sand into specific patterns, or symbolic representations of that sound. In yoga, the color red – which represents the base root chakra, or energy center – correlates to the middle C note of a piano. The notes move up the scale as you move up the spine: D note is Orange and matches up to the sacral area, E note is Yellow for the navel, F note is Green at the heart, G is the color Blue in the throat, A is Indigo resonating with the third eye center and B is Violet or White light – sitting at the top of the head.
For 30 year old Neil Harbisson, who cannot see colors, he receives audio tone interpretations of colors through a sensing device called an “Eyeborg.” He has been using this contraption since 2004 and hope to have it implanted in his skull eventually. It has opened the world up for him as he now is creating artistic interpretations of the sounds he hears both as paintings and musical scores. Before the use of his special Eyeborg device, he described his relationship with color as something he could not see because it “moved too quickly.” Colors alluded him and he felt distant to them.
With this color interpretation device, Harbisson may have opened himself up to a world that most of us would only dream of. What would happen to our relationship with the world if we could both see and hear color? Those who have experienced deep meditational states have reported hearing sounds accompanying colors. Could it be that in deeper states of consciousness one can access senses in a more holistic way? This opens up the floor for a lot of question such as: could we taste music, feel color and smell textures as well?
The five senses are wonderful tools we use to interact with the world and communicate with each other. We have all heard of someone who is blind, making up for their lack of vision with more intense hearing or smelling capacities. Perhaps the senses hold so much more interpretation of the world than we currently know. Could you hear colors? Neil Harbisson does. Yes, he does so with the assistance of modern technology, though it does open up the mind to the fact that colors have sounds. When that realization is made, so many more options seem to open before our very eyes – and ears.
Written by: Stasia Bliss