2nd Conference


Understanding Music Language through Synesthesia as Means for Music Cognition

Marina Karasseva
Ph.D. in Musicology, M. A. NLP
Professor of Music Theory Department
Scientific Head of Computer Center
Moscow State Conservatory named after P. I. Tchaikovsky
Moscow, Russia
Senior Fulbright Scholar (1999-2000) - School of Music, University of Maryland  (College Park, MD, USA). 25-1-159
ulitsa Issakovskogo, Moscow, 123181, Russia,
telephone: +7 (095) 757 06 29


Music has a great impact on the human body and brain. Listening to music serves as a means of the development of the right brain hemisphere, with its prevalent imagery and holistic thinking.


The traditional music therapy approach is usually based on discrimination of the music mood only as a whole, without the examination of its components as special patterns of psychological influence. However, it is especially important to use synesthetic components in music listening in order to be able not only hear music sounds but also be successively associated with something seen, smelled, touched in one's individual imagination.


The main goal of the paper is to present the author's educational methodology for the successful perception of the 20th century music chords by means of the application of a synesthetical approach in music hearing. During the presentation the author will describe the methodological core of her systematization of music patterns as well as the analysis of their influence.


Certain types of chords are invariably perceived by the people in certain color (or in sector of color spectrum), geometrical figures, clearness, volume, contrast, density, temperature, taste, smell, and so on. Therefore, we can select and classify their psychocorrective properties. For instance, it is possible to use a number of chords (among them are so called "Webern-chords) to evoke associations with something in blue, cold, shimmering color, crystal structure, as a means for lowing of a blood pressure. A special table of auditory, visual, and kinesthetic submodalities will be demonstrated in its psychocorrective action within the sound effect.


The proposed method has been proved - scientifically - in my Post-Doctorate dissertation "Solfeggio - Psychotechnique of Ear Training (M., 1999), and practically & pedagogically - in series of experiments in Moscow Conservatory (1995-2002) as well in various workshops in other music colleges in Russia and abroad.


The presented methodology may be applicable both in the group / individual self-improvement  and in psychocorrective sessions as well as in special lessons on music appreciation.