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#TIL: Pharrell Williams Can Actually See Sound

Pharrell Williams has a medical condition called synesthesia, which allows him to see sound.

by Sean Smith

Pharrell Williams is arguably the most influential and accomplished record producer working in the music industry today. As a member of the Neptunes, working alongside Chad Hugo, he has produced countless hits. In the 1990s The Neptunes produced rap classics like Noreaga’s “Superthug (What What)” and Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Got Your Money.” In the 2000s, Pharrell and Chad Hugo produced even more popular classics like Jay Z’s “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It To Me),” Mystikal’s two major hits “Shake Ya Ass” and “Danger (Been So Long),” Britney Spears’ “Slave 4 U,” and N*Sync’s “Girlfriend.” And that is just a very small sampling of Neptune’s produced hit’s from the 2000s. I could literally write a whole series of articles based solely on the success of Neptunes produced singles from that decade. Pharrell also has a number of hits that he has produced away from the Neptunes, including Jay Z’s “Oceans,” Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” and his own song “Happy.”

Pharrell’s body of work over the years speaks for itself. We all know that he possesses an undeniable ability to consistently produce great music. What you may not know is that Pharrell credits his superior producing ability to the fact that he can see the sound that he is creating. Pharrell has what medical experts call synesthesia, the neurological phenomenon in which one sensory stimulation involuntarily triggers a stimulation in a secondary sense. In other words, when Pharrell hears music he also has the ability to see colors that correspond with the sounds that he hears. And believe it or not, Pharrell is not the only great musician to experience such a phenomenon. Musical greats like Billy Joel. Kanye West, Mary J. Blige, and Stevie Wonder also reportedly experience some form of synesthesia.

If you are interested in learning more about Pharrell Williams ability to see sound you can check out an interview he did with Psychology Today about synesthesia here. And as always, if you have learned a little known music related fact that you would like to share with your fellow Clizbeats readers, you can share it with us on Twitter (@Clizbeats) or on our Facebook page. We may just share your knowledge right here on #TIL in the weeks to come.

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