Friday, April 24, 2009

Silver and Gold
23 x 36 Oil on Linen

I've been reading Oliver Sacks' Musicophilia. It examines the place music occupies in the brain and chronicles anomalous perceptions of music by his patients. Some experience seizures when exposed to certain kinds of music (musicolepsia), others hear tunes or musical phrases repeated over and over (brainworms), some, like Schumann, are tortured by a single repeated note. Some suffer from amusia (perceiving music as noise) while others with perfect pitch cannot help identifying the musical signature of a car horn, or a sneeze or a dog's bark. Last night I read the chapter on synesthesia. Synesthesia literally means a fusing of the senses. The most common form is seeing color when hearing music, D major is blue or G minor is yellow. Some people experience letters of the alphabet as colors while others can taste musical notes. Normally only the auditory cortex of the brain is activated when one hears music but a synestete experiences activity in more than one part of the brain. If they see color when hearing music both the auditory and visual sections are activated. I hear my paintings as music and am often asked if I experience synesthesia. I think not because my associations are not so specific but rather general patterns and rhythms and dynamics. The auditory and visual sections of my brain are playing with each other or having a conversation rather than acting in concert. Reading this book has made me aware, however, that I hear music all the time. It is at a very low volume and is easily overridden by, or combined with, any other brain activity. It does not disrupt my life in any way but it is always there. If my mind is not occupied with another activity the musical volume increases and keeps me company. It has been my constant companion as far back as I can remember. On the other hand I've probably never experienced a genuine moment of silence in my whole life.....

5 comments:

Eulalia (Lali) said...

Gosh, what kind of music do you hear?

Thomas Torak said...

As I'm writing this I'm enjoying the final movement of the Beethoven violin concerto. Imagine your ipod in shuffle mode and never turning off or someone constantly playing the radio in the next room. Fortunately it's always something I want to hear.

Walter Lynn Mosley said...

Beautiful painting Tom!!!

Walter Lynn Mosley said...

When the fire dept. across the street opens it doors some kind of sound goes off, and I start singing Hey Jude every time (the sound sounds like the first two notes in Hey Jude). Other sounds I associate with other songs, the "beep beep beep" of a truck backing up sets off "The Best Way to Travel" by the Moody Blues. The subway door is another...etc What would this be diagnosed as I wonder? :)

Tony Perrotta said...

I have Olivers Sack's BIGGEST fan for over 20 years. He is a huge Classical Music fan too, among many other things. I went to see him talk at NJIT in Hoboken lasyt year. Amazing man ! Tom, if you have not read all his books and you liked this one you'll love the others !

Tony