Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/507

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ASSOCIATION OF COLORS WITH SOUNDS.

notes were translated by certain fixed colors. The high notes induced clear colors, and the low notes dull ones. More recently, M. Pedrono, an ophthalmologist of Nantes, has observed the same peculiarities in one of his friends. M. Pedrono's friend had become so accustomed to the double perception of sounds and colors that he took no notice of it, and never told it to any one, having forborne to speak of it at the outset for fear of being considered singular. At one time several persons were amusing themselves by repeating in all kinds of applications, as a kind of joke, a slang expression which they had found in some story: "That is as fine as a yellow dog." So everything was declared to be as fine as a yellow dog. "Have you noticed his voice?" said one of the company; "it is as fine as a yellow dog." "Not at all," said M. Pedrono's friend, quickly, "his voice is not yellow, it is pure red." The observation was made in so earnest a manner that the whole company laughed out. "What!" they said, "a red voice! what do you mean?" M. X—— had to explain the curious faculty he had of seeing the color of voices. Each of the company, then, of course, wanted to know what was the color of his own voice, and M. X—— had to satisfy them all. It so happened that one of them had a yellow voice.

According to M. Pedrono, this friend of his had no trouble in his eyes or ears. His hearing was good, his sight perfect, and his general health excellent. Yet the chromatic sensitiveness was so sharp that the luminous impression seemed to be made a little while before the sonorous one; and, before it was possible to judge the quality and intensity of the sound, he had already seen and already knew whether it was red, blue, yellow, or of other color. He did not, like the Zürich student, perceive an appreciable change of color with every modification of tone. A sharp note was only brighter, a flat one duller, than the natural. But, when the same piece was played upon different instruments, varied sensations were produced. A Breton melody gave the sensation of yellow when it was played on a saxophone, red on a clarinet, and blue on the piano, showing that in this case the phenomenon was chiefly influenced by the timbre. The intensity of the color corresponds with the energy of the sound. Loud noises bring out brilliant colors. Very sharp tones determine a grayish sensation, that passes to a bright silver-white when they become intense. The human voice gives multifarious impressions. The vowels i and e (French) produce the most lively colors, a and o less defined ones, u a dark tint. Generally, with this subject, e gives yellow, a dark blue, o red or orange, u black. The diphthongs give combined colors: eu (French) is gray, oi clear gray, ue violet.

M. X——  can see all kinds of sounds and noises and distinguish all voices, but, curiously, can not perceive his own. When he is asked for the definite form under which he sees the sounds, he replies that the colored appearance is displayed on the vibrating object, the sonorous body. If the string of a guitar is twanged, that is what is colored;