What would the world look like if you could see music? Not just read music on a page, but see how the sounds look.

Melissa McCracken is an artist who paints sound. Her work transports us into the synesthetic mind.

Synesthesia is a neurological quirk where the senses are, in some way, cross-wired. This manifests itself in many ways: perceiving letters or numbers has having colors, tasting textures, seeing music in color and shapes.

Many people go their whole lives without knowing they have any form of synesthesia.

My sister, Louisa, is a very strong synesthete, and like Melissa, she hears music in color (she has written a piece for EWC about her experience). I have a more mild form of synesthesia whereby I perceive my writing in particular color palettes. Both of us didn’t realize this was outside of the ordinary until we learned about synesthesia.

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All of us commonly encounter synesthetic phrases in our language, describing a sound as “sharp,” somebody as “blue,” or a new restaurant as “cool.” A sound obviously can poke you, a sad person doesn’t change colors, and because a restaurant is described as cool, doesn’t mean you need to wear a parka. Yet, we understand these phrases to equate a feeling or color to a characteristic.

Seeing synesthesia…

While common turns of phrase give us a glimpse into the synesthetic mind, to understand something as incredible as sound-to-color synesthesia sometimes the best way is to turn to a translator. This is where the work of Melissa McCracken comes in.

Her beautiful artwork is giving us all a way to see what the synesthetic experience looks like…

Here are a few more of her pieces, but if you want to see the full gallery of her pieces you can see them over on her website

Melissa McCracken interpretation of the song Gravity

Source: Melissa McCracken

Melissa McCracken interpretation of the song Imagine

Source: Melissa McCracken

Melissa McCracken interpretation of the song At Last

At Last
Source: Melissa McCracken

Incredible work like this is a wonderful reminder that each of us sees the world in vastly different ways.

The tapestry of human experience is rich with unique human experiences to be talked about and celebrated!

If you want to check out Louisa’s article on her synesthesia (and see more of Melissa McCracken’s work) head over to her article!

Stay beautiful & keep laughing!



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  1. “Seeing a Song: Painting What She Hears.” YouTube. Great Big Story, 21 Mar. 2016. Web. 07 Apr. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbh7tAnwLCY>.

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

COO Ever Widening Circles

Liesl is a camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often floundering—yoga lover. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV