Pianist with synesthesia performs Bach "in color" (video)

[Video Link] BB pal Joe Sabia points us to this incredible video by Evan Shinners, Julliard-trained pianist and "best Bach player around." In the video, Shinners shows the world the colors he sees when he plays: he has synesthesia. You can follow him on Twitter, and check him out live on one of his upcoming tour dates.



  1. Pretty sure there’s a natural color frame around 0:29. What note was that? It might be important.

  2. I never imagined I’d be a piano snob, but couldn’t he have put all this work into a recording with a better piano? (Or — more snobby still — a harpsichord?)

    1. yeah. i was kind of perturbed at first by the ‘saloon’ sounding offkey piano, but i dug it after a while.  however, I don’t experience synesthesia with notes the way it’s interpreted in the video.  It makes me wonder how different people with synesthesia visually perceive their colors.

  3. Not sure about those colors… but this was a FANTASTIC performance of Bach. Almost Gouldian.

  4. I am in complete AW of Shinners and GRATEFUL to him for helping me to understand a phenomenon that is, in itself, as deliciously extraordinary as his performance.  

  5. So, to the wiki I went to research Synesthesia, and I’ve actually experienced the taste->sight thing, especially when focusing on wine/coffee tasting. I often visualized different tastes being above or behind, or sliding through, or to the left/right of others. I would have never thought that had a name.

    1.  ask around in your family!  synesthesia is often a family trait (not necessarily genetic, just “runs in families”).

  6. I wonder if you should perhaps provide viewers with seizure warnings. I don’t know if that’s the sort of thing that triggers them exactly,  but it was the first thing I thought about.

  7. If you have a friend who has a copy of The Kronos Quartet’s Short Stories, borrow it.  On it, there’s a track, Spectre by John Oswald.  Mr. Oswald hears sounds when he sees things.  Spectre is what he heard when he visited the Grand Canyon.

    The Youtube video has really poor audio, so it doesn’t do it justice…

  8.  I can barely handle my alarm clock going off and an IMAX movie in the same week, so you can imagine what was going through my head watching this. But the talent is so immense, I couldn’t even close my eyes to regroup. (I wish I could handle more stimulation; the world would be so much more fun.)  I’m completely confident my husband would not nod off during one of his concerts, so we’re just going to have to deal with traffic one night soon and catch Evan in person. REALLY hoping this guy is playing on the XM Symphony Hall Tribute to Bach (on his birthday) tomorrow. If not, they have truly missed the boat.  The world has changed since I studied Haydn and Mozart in Spring, 1982. Thank God. Bravo.

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