Syncretism and synaesthesia in music – unification of arts and perceptions


  • ROSINA CATERINA FILIMON “George Enescu” National University of Arts Iași ROMANIA



syncretism, synaesthesia, coloured audition, Eduard Gruber, Alexander Skriabin, Ginanni Corradini, Arnold Schönberg, Vasily Kandinski, Olivier Messiaen, Iannis Xenakis


Archaeological and ethnological research has revealed that, since antiquity, music had a syncretic nature. Music, dance, and poetry made up a single whole, aiming at expressing human feelings, sensations and perceptions through melody, rhythm, words, and gestures, and accompanying everyday activities that had various functions. Artistic syncretism is doubled by another structural principle – synaesthesia. The brain process that unifies senses and perceptions, synaesthesia is defined as the spontaneous association of several senses and sensations, in response to the action of a single stimulus. People with the so-called colorful hearing associate auditory reception with the perception of colorful images. Many artists had this ability that was reflected in their artistic creation. Initially the fusion of music and color was researched by theorists, who tried to create musical instruments that would be able to radiate colours during the musical interpretation. The syncretic and synaesthetic relationship between sound and image is individualized at the beginning of the twentieth century. Starting with the Dadaist and futuristic trends, artists seek and discover new forms of expression that unite the audible and the visual in a single form of representation. At present, the interaction between arts is seen as a fact, common also due to multimedia technology that allows the creation of synthetic, syncretic and synaesthetic ambiances, in which perception takes place at a multisensory level, changing the listener's one-sided perception. The art of sounds plays an essential role in syncretism and synaesthesia in music: in the first case, music participates in defining complex forms of artistic manifestation, and in the second, music generates sensations at the level of several senses. The listener benefits from new forms of artistic expression through which the transfer of the states and feelings of the artist to the listener occurs.