Musical-Aesthetic Education: Synesthesia and Complex Influence of Arts (review)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviewed by
Musical-Aesthetic Education: Synesthesia and Complex Influence of Arts by N. Kolyadenko. V. Skorokhodov, trans. Conservatory Publications, Novosibirsk, Russia, 2003. 258 pp., illus. ISBN: 5-9294-0007-05.

Leonardo Reviews
Editor-in-Chief: Michael Punt
Managing Editor: Bryony Dalefield
Associate Editor: Robert Pepperell

A full selection of reviews is
published monthly on the LR web site:

The investigation of the nature of synesthesia, or "color hearing," pairs naturally with the investigation of the problems of light-music or other forms of audio-visual synthesis, which are of primary importance to the theory of modern art. Much less attended to is the psychological-pedagogical aspect of intermodal synthesis, which at present is at a "ripening" stage in Russian science. The book Children Draw Music, by I. Vanechkina and I. Trofimova [1], has been up to now the only one in Russia to consider the problem of synesthesia from this point of view. All the more topical is the publication of N. Kolyadenko's book. This book is a textbook for the students of Novosibirsk Conservatory, where the author has for many years been giving lectures on the method of synesthetic musical-aesthetic education. The book addresses a broader audience. In fact, it suggests an absolutely general approach based on synesthetic experience, applicable to all fields and all stages of musical education. Under present circumstances, with the verbal-symbolic method dominant in musical education, it is worthwhile to bring synesthesia into the formation of an integral, multidimensional, nonlinear artistic thinking. Synesthetic musical-aesthetic education, as a nonverbal pedagogic method in the open, interactive, humanistic model of the teaching process, is capable of animating the dry, lifeless, finished knowledge offered in so many textbooks. Musical education, in resonance with the whole sensory structure—color, light, shape, tactile sensations and even such "minor sensations" as taste and smell—would take on an especially vital force and fruitfulness.

It is noteworthy that the synesthetic approach in musical-aesthetic education is considered in this book on a fundamental, all-around level. In the first chapter the problem is discussed from the philosophic-aesthetic-psychological point of view. On the basis of diverse historical-cultural and artistic material, the author reveals the role of synesthesia in both the formation of an artistic viewpoint on the world and musical thinking as compared with other kinds of nonverbal comprehension of the world (religious, mystical or psychedelic experience). This chapter deals with the psychological basis of synesthetic phenomena, the problem of "synesthesia of arts," and the preconditions of a synesthetic tendency in the pedagogic practice of Dalcruse, Orff, Yavorsky and today's Russian music teachers.

The second chapter is devoted to the investigation of the role of synesthesia in the formation of a synthesizing style of thinking in the course of music education, which is necessary for modern integrated art practice. Verbal-artistic language and visual thinking are analyzed here as spheres of manifestation for latent "musicality." With their aid, the indirect assimilation of musical language takes place—from nonverbal elements of closely related arts to inter-sensory links toward the comprehension of musical meaning and the development of universal aptitude for art. In this process the intersensory links serve as "guides" to the sphere of inner speech, bringing the languages of closely related arts closer to music—the quintessence of nonverbal thinking. Note that Kolyadenko places special emphasis here on practical work, on the learning of musical sense by means of the objectless "drawing of music."

The third chapter discusses the role of synesthesia in achieving the "cosmic-genetic" (Yu. Linnick) effect of music in the process of musical education. As the author rightfully emphasizes, the creation of a polysensory artistic medium, saturated with perceptions of other modalities, is an effective method of musical-aesthetic education in three aspects: cognitive, perceptive and creative. Kolyadenko and her disciples learned much from teaching students in various subjects: academic (such as musical literature, hearing music, music theory, Solfeggio) and nonacademic (language of art). On the basis of that practice she was able to produce a broad survey of unique pedagogic methods—stimulated by synesthesia—concerning musical teaching, perception and creative activity.

Synesthesia-aided stimulation in...