Pharrell Talks Synesthesia with Psychology Today

One of the secret’s to Pharrell’s success is synesthesia, a medical condition which for him translates auditory information into visual phenomena. Yes — Pharrell can “see sounds.” He sat down with Psychology Today to discuss the sensation and describe his musical pedagogy:

Pharrell Williams next takes me on a journey involving harmonics. “Another thing I think has a correlation (to synesthesia) is this,” he says. ” There are seven basic colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. And those also correspond with musical notes…White, believe it or not, which gives you an octave is the blending of all the colors…” There’s such conviction and sense of discovery in his voice.

Mr. Williams also ascribes to a chakra system and feels affinity for color associations in many mediums. “Colors are light in the electromagnetic spectrum. For every color, there is a sound, a vibration, a part of the human body, a number, a musical note…You have all of your chakras, you have the pituitary, the pineal, the thymus thyroid, the adrenal and the gonad and so on (which correspond to colors).”

And he has a unique process to access the music, which is always accompanied by a vision of colors floating by. He says his process is like riding a moped – you have to peddle first to fire it up. “What gives me meditation is the shower. When I get in the shower, because of something called sensory deprivation – when one of your senses is being blocked, it allows your mind to wander and be imaginative. So when I’m in the shower, the water blocks out the sound, so it makes me imagine things.

“And that happens to me on planes, and that happens to me in the shower, and that happens to me underwater. And that’s why when I’m around water it’s a little bit more of a creative environment.

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