Kandinsky undoubtedly led the European revival in synaesthesia but there are many other examples of sonic influence in modern art, from Munch's The Scream and Whistler's Nocturnes and Harmonies to Ezra Pound's cantos and T S Eliot's quartets. Yet Kandinsky's curious gift of colour-hearing, which he successfully translated onto canvas as "visual music", to use the term coined by the art critic Roger Fry in 1912, gave the world another way of appreciating art that would be inherited by many more poets, abstract artists and psychedelic rockers throughout the rest of the disharmonic 20th century. Here then are Kandinsky's guidelines so that you can. . .experience synaesthesia for yourself: "Lend your ears to music, open your eyes to painting, and… stop thinking! Just ask yourself whether the work has enabled you to 'walk about' into a hitherto unknown world. If the answer is yes, what more do you want?"This reminds of me of Stephen Mitchelmore's comments on Wallace Stevens, Vladimir Nabokov, and Jeffrey Ford. I had never read "Signs and Symbols" before last month (thank God for such blogs as This Space!). It altered my mood for the rest of the day. Nabokov knows exactly how to "catch the heart off guard and blow it open" (as Seamus Heaney writes). Ford's story, "The Empire of Ice Cream," was also very interesting--less poignant and elliptical, but a really nice piece of work.
All composers should write music with crayons.