Does Music have Colours (and why the ‘hai’ over ‘Hi’)?

28 Jun,2018


By Prabhakar Mundkur


At first you might well find the idea a little incongruous.  But it does.


Both colours and music seem to have emotional associations.  Little doubt that some music makes you sad, and some of it makes you happy for instance.  Similarly, some colours are formal, others are informal and some others are great for beach wear or even a psychedelic party.  So, it is inconceivable that music can have colours? Often the hippies of the 60s while tripping on acid have expressed several times that they have seen colours while listening to music. At the time it was explained away as the hallucinogenic effects of LSD on the brain, which made it unable to distinguish between the frequencies of colour and the frequencies of music.


Current science says a miniscule minority of the population – one in three thousand – can actually see colours associated with music.  They are called cromesthetes and they spontaneously see colours as they listen to music.


Now Maruti Suzuki seems to have used this little known and esoteric phenomenon to generate a musical signature to their brands.  They decided to generate the sound of Nexa Blue from three western classical musicians who were asked to present a musical theme for #NexaBlue.

And this is the music they heard when they saw #NexaBlue.\


Very impressive as a piece of theory.  But is it mind-boggling as a piece of music?  I am not so sure. After all, music is intuitive at its very core.  And no amount of theory can help you to create a memorable tune that you want to sing along or whistle the moment you have heard it.  Music is a purely emotional response.  Also the tune being classical may not appeal to the larger target audience that Maruti-Suzuki in mind.  In fact perhaps it might have worked better, to have had Indian musicians interpret #NexaBlue into sound. It might have been more meaningful for the Indian market.  But the idea is both brave and experimentative.


Rishton Ka Hi Fever


The new Wagh Bakri has a nationalistic fervour to it.  The story is about a son returning from several years overseas. He is naturally a little westernised after his sojourn and uses the Western greeting Hi instead of say a Namaste. The son is a bit cold and self-effacing with his parents and grandparents on arrival.  The commercial ends with the grandmother admonishing the young lad for his westernisms and Western style of greeting with a Hi.


If the son is a millennial and returning from overseas the poor boy deserves less of this severe cultural criticism.  After all it is Hello that was replaced by the more colloquial and modern Hi, which is likely to be used more often by young people than the old.


When Parle-G recently launched its new campaign #YouaremyParleG, the first word in the first commercial for Parle G was the word Hi.  Take a look at the commercial.


It would seem that Hi is no longer interpreted as being a western word but rather just a plain formal greeting that is used by the youth all over the world.  But somehow Wagh Bakri seems to have chosen to make it a moral lesson for Indian millennials.


Hey v/s Hi and #WhenOatsMeetsChocolate


And if Hi were so objectionable here is another digital video from Britannia Nutrichoice aimed at millennials uses the expression ‘Hey’ which is even more common perhaps amongst the youth than the antiquated Hi.


Britannia bases it assumptions that millennials are using emojis and animation to communicate all the time.  Oats and Chocolate are animated characters that meet in a romantic encounter in this new product from Britania.


However, if you compare Hey and Hi on Google Trends, it does seem like Hi is more commonly used than Hey on a world-wide basis.



So one needs to see if the moral rap on the knuckles suggested by Wagh Bakri attracts Indian millennials or actually puts them off.


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