Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Music Honours


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Supervisor

Lindsay Vickery

Second Supervisor

Yitzhak Yedid

Third Supervisor

Matt Styles


This research presents an evaluation of my compositional process with regard to synesthesia as a creative tool. Traditionally, the phenomenon of synesthesia has been discussed in perceptual terms, such as something that is seen visually elicits an additional experience in another sensory domain, such as sound. However, recent research has identified that there is an additional process involved in creating the secondary sensory experience, which is a semantic representation of concepts (ideasthesia). Specifically, my research considers ideasthesia in combination with a personal reflection on coloured hearing to provide a retrospective analysis of one of my compositions, Dance in Defiance (2012) which was inspired by a novel.

The aim of my research was to gain a deeper understanding of my practice, as well as articulating a process that is often challenging to describe. I focus on five specific passages of text that demonstrate the variety of musical parameters informed by the meaning I derived from the excerpt. I used the “Input – Process – Output” model, which allowed me to deconstruct my creative process into three phases. This model provided a framework to evaluate ideasthesia as a creative tool, as it charts the process of textual inspiration to musical material. Secondly, I reflected on the nature of my coloured hearing synesthesia. Three visual aspects are discussed, namely colour, shape and movement. I devised a “hearing-visual dictionary” based on my own practice, providing a broader understanding of coloured hearing, as the literature primarily focuses on the visual aspect of colour and the musical parameters of pitch and timbre.

My research adds to knowledge about the role of synesthesia in musical composition, specifically highlighting shape and movement. It has also enhanced my understanding of my compositional practice and therefore offers other composers an additional paradigm to consider.

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