Sunday, January 25, 2009




Although bassist Mark Saltman has not been diagnosed with synaesthetic experiences, his compositions are written using color theory, sense perception and intuition. “I came up with my system based on how I hear tonalities,” Mark offered in a recent interview, “for example the brightest tonalities match the brightest colors just like on the color wheel. The difference between others and mine is that I equate 'c' (the key with no sharps and flats) to yellow, the brightest color, and 'Gb or F#' (the key with the most sharps and flats) to the darkest color or dark purple. This also corresponds with black and white keys on the piano.”

On his soon to be released CD, “Return Of The Composer” Mark uses this color sensory system in writing his original songs in collaboration with pianist William Knowles. The idea of composers looking at sounds in terms of colors is not new and in fact many past musicians have alluded to this concept including; Duke Ellington, Franz Liszt and Oliver Messiaen. According to medical studies these uncommon sensory experiences are examples of synesthesia, when two or more senses cooperate in perception. Once dismissed as imagination or delusion, metaphor or drug-induced hallucination, the experience of synesthesia has now been documented by scans of synesthetes' brains that show "crosstalk" between areas of the brain that do not normally communicate.

However, not everyone agrees on what colors correspond to what pitches which leaves the research open for debate. Mark Saltman says his songs are “related to traditional color theory” and he uses the same relationships on the color wheel when composing. “I also believe that my own color/music theory can be related to Eastern Philosophy where it is believed that certain colors are associated with channels and lines that exist around all of us.” An example of how Mark uses this method can best be heard in his compositions from “Return Of The Composer”, “Homeland” and “Shalom and Salaam.”

Please contact to interview Mark Saltman.

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