Synesthesia: A subjective sensation or image of a sense (as of colour) other than the one (as of sound) being stimulated.
Synesthetes, like musicians Pharrell Williams and Billy Joel, who are affected by a special variant called Chromesthesia, can actually see sound in colour.
“When I think of different types of melodies which are slower or softer, I think in terms of blues or greens,” Joel once explained to Psychology Today. “When I have a particularly vivid color, it’s usually a strong melodic, strong rhythmic pattern that emerges at the same time. When I think of (those) certain songs, I think of vivid reds, oranges, or golds.”
Synesthete musicians might be the ideal customers for Specdrums, a gadget currently being funded on Kickstarter that lets users associate sounds or notes with specific colours and play those colours like an instrument using colour-sensing rings that attach to the fingers.
The rings, which can be ordered alone or in pairs, connect via Bluetooth to an app (available for iOS and Android) where users can tap colours around them and pair them with collections of sounds from various instruments available in the app’s library, or choose other downloaded or self-recorded sounds.
As for the colours, they can be anything — from Specdrums’ own 12-colour keyboard to sticky notes, clothing or even colours found in nature. The company notes that this versatility gives musicians freedom to create on the go.
Specdrums can also be connected to other music making MIDI apps like GarageBand and are run on open-source software, with resources available for development on GitHub.
One Specdrums ring is currently priced at $59 CAD, while a pair costs $94. The company expects to ship the devices in January, 2018.
I’ve always loved the idea of music apps that let artists create on the go, but this concept takes things to the next level.
With Specdrums, you’ll theoretically be able to engage the environment around you while making music on the fly — you won’t need to be staring at a screen the whole time. It’s that perfect mix of real-world engagement and technology that makes for a compelling experience both for adults and children.
Specdrums sounds like a winner to me.