[PODCAST] Combining senses: Sih talks synesthesia and violin

May 8, 2019

9th+grader+Kai+Sih+spends+hours+with+his+violin+playing+with+a+traveling+orchestra+in+addition+to+SPA%27s+orchestra.+

Harper Lux

9th grader Kai Sih spends hours with his violin playing with a traveling orchestra in addition to SPA's orchestra.

HL: How long have you been playing violin?

KS: I’ve been playing violin for about maybe nine years. I started because my parents wanted me to, but then eventually I started enjoying it more. And now I’m playing in orchestra show

HL: What piqued your interest once it was up to you, as opposed to your parents?

KS: It was mostly just that I enjoyed the playing the instrument. And sure, I just like being creative in some way. And music does that.

HL: If music is what made you interested or made you feel creative,  have you tried playing other instruments or tried other art forms like drawing or singing?

KS: Instrumental music is the most interesting to me, because I have synesthesia, which means I can smell sounds. And I can be myself so I get unique expression. I get unique expression of music.

HL: And I was actually I was gonna ask you about that because I remember you telling me about that last year, but what is it like to have synesthesia?

KS: Not that different from not having it. It’s like stretching every day. There’s basically two components that are in alignment happening.
Massive overstimulation every day. Basically just classics.

HL: How does the music kind of affect you? Or how does it feel? Can you kind of explain what it’s like to have synesthesia?

KS: Well, I didn’t know I had it until two years ago, I honestly thought people only had three senses. Basically just divided them for some kind of social cue. But I don’t have any experience without it so I can’t really describe it.

HL: That’s valid. What kind of music makes you feel different or smell things differently?

KS: Different kinds of expression makes me feel different things. But none of it is so different. All music feels the same in some way. But every different key, every different rhythm, every kind of different tone, every expression feels slightly different.

HL: Is there anything that feels bad or unpleasant versus things that make you feel good [in music]?

KS: Things that are out of tune or overly dissonant are usually not pleasant.

HL: So that what would you say it’s like for you playing  in school? What is it like to play with people who may have less talent to put it nicely?

KS: You know, sometimes, sometimes that’s not right. I’ve still enjoyed all of it.

HL: Have you ever written your own music?

KS: I have. I performed and uploaded something in the last year for the
spring concert? And I do arrange my own music sometimes as well.

HL: Do you ever write music? Is it difficult to write your own music? Or is it something that’s kind of feels natural to you, or you can write what feels good just because of your synesthesia?

KS: Honestly, I try to record because it’s something that’s unique to me, or it’s one in 6.4 billion. So that means that a lot of other people able to relate to it. If I remind synesthesia too much.

HL: Would you consider it an advantage or a disadvantage  in terms of your musical talent?

KS: I would consider a very large disadvantage. It’s a disadvantage, because it’s distracting.  I can’t smell things that are out of tune from just  some reason I appear to have some sense and perfect pitch. I’m not sure how that works. But it’s just two things that are uniquely put together.

HL:  Knowing that you have synesthesia, what would you say for someone else who may have it and what instrument would you recommend? Or what kind of source of creativity would you recommend?

KS: I don’t know, it depends on how people deal with it. If they deal with it by shutting themselves off from noise or whatever since they are aligned with it and if it is auditory, then I would say music is not usually the best option. If it is visual tool factory, I would say music is still good.

HL: would you say there’s a difference? Or what the difference between someone playing the violin like you or someone playing a drum, how might that may affect them? Like a more aggressive instrument.

KS: It’s the same.

HL: Would you recommend specifically the violin to other people looking for like a beginner or someone looking to express creativity?

KS: No, I would not. It takes a long time and learn. And even after a lot of time playing it there’s just so much music to learn. I mean, there’s thousands of hours of music to memorize. I don’t know a lot of music in general. So I would suggest something with a slightly more closed field of interest that’s been around for a while that’s cheaper. There are a lot of expensive violins and I do not want the cost tens of thousands of dollars. So it’s costly and it’s difficult.

HL: Thank you for your time.

 

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