• Member Since 11th Oct, 2011
  • offline last seen 6 hours ago


I'm older than your average brony, but then I've always enjoyed cartoons. I'm an experienced reviewer, EqD pre-reader, and occasional author.


Big McIntosh has a unique way of appreciating music, and Octavia certainly provides an experience. Octavia would love to get in touch with her earth pony roots, and Big McIntosh has the deepest roots around. They could learn so much from each other about why they do what they do, and they just might gain some insight into their own simple gifts in the process.

Featured on Equestria Daily!

Reading by Goombasa.

Chapters (7)
Comments ( 190 )

So much for "next week". Regardless, I look forward to reading the rest of this, and congrats on the EqD feature.

Maybe she needed to rewrite or something else happened?

Don't go by the original creation date. It's weekly from when It actually became publicly visible. Chapter 2 will be posted on October 5.

5070041 Ah. Not exactly something visible to us. I assumed it was undiscovered until now.then again, since the author sends it in to EqD before it gets featured, I suppose that people knowing about it wouldn't make much of a difference. Anyway, still looking forward to the rest.

Yeah, FiMFiction's dates can be unreliable. The "Last Modified" one doesn't appear to work sometimes. I uploaded the first chapter to check formatting a while ago and didn't even submit to EqD until this month. I don't submit it to FiMFic moderation until I know EqD isn't going to request any more changes, and I just heard back yesterday. Sorry to be misleading! I've changed the A/N to reflect this.

Synesthesia huh? Certainly an interesting premise, with a promising start and - well, if it's by you that's usually a good indication that I'm in for something special.

I appreciate the vote of confidence, and I hope this story ends up justifying it!

An incredible start so far! Beautiful description and lovely references to musicians. I certainly look forward for chapters to come~! ^w^

That was a fascinating bit of characterization for Mac. The reactions of all the girls were fairly fun, too.

Off to an interesting start already! I'm wondering though, is AJ smiling for Mac, or did something else happen back there? I'm thinking the former but who knows~
Edit: pre season 3? One would think Twi could join the princesses in the booth otherwise...

This tickles the part of my brain that simply loved studying music in college something fierce. I've heard about folks who experience sound in additional ways, color being the most common, but I've never seen it used in prose before.

Wish I could remember the word for it.

Still, music was one of the degrees I was working towards in college, I was probably going to end up with either a composing or analysis emphasis, but the reason I studied music was because of how wonderfully powerful it is. From the pictures it paints, to the emotions it evokes, to the passions it can inspire - it's simply a marvelous treat.

Definitely going to be following this story, but I do have one very small complaint.

The comparison of classical to modern - you seem to be implying that modern music's more simplified arrangements make it a bit less in the kind of colors someone with synesthesia (I remembered the word) would see.

That's not really the case as it's not just a pure translation of sound bleeding into a secondary sense, but a way that their brains see the structure of music. And while classical and other large ensemble pieces and genres might provide for a greater number of building blocks, it's the quality of the writing and playing that give the colors their vibrancy and depth.

With the one kid who had it in my music theory classes he always described it as the intervals and keys as making the color rather than the timbre of the instrument.

Still, that is a very small beef with the story for me to have, and I only felt compelled to write about it because I liked everything else so much!

Very good start, and I look forward to more.

The sad tag makes me feel like they're doomed from the onset though. But like a achingly depressing bit of music being a thing of beauty, so too can a heartbreaking love story.

I actually started writing this story nearly three years ago and abandoned it for a while. This is a relic from that time, but one that I decided to leave in place without trying to finagle an explanation. Perhaps Luna and Celestia get a separate box because they're visiting dignitaries, perhaps because the concert was set up before Twilight's ascension, perhaps because Twilight declined the honor... I didn't want to wedge something in there that felt like an after-the-fact explanation, though. I could have left it as pre-S3, but I did decide to edit it to include canon of Twilight being a princess and having her own castle. So, that's a long way of saying I don't really have an answer there, other than maybe only the two big cheeses get the full treatment (Cadance isn't there, after all).

I did have to extrapolate on how Big Mac would experience synesthesia (it does explicitly get identified as that in the next chapter). I kept falling into the temptation of having the colors flow from the piece's subject matter and having to rewrite so that it was the pure sound (though the full sound of an orchestra would provide enough color for him to reorganize as he liked). It's interesting that chords and intervals might be more of a driver than tone or timbre for that individual, but I wonder whether that's always the case. And timbre is kind of an interval, too, as it includes harmonics and overtones, but maybe the effect there is too subtle. There's also somewhat of a difficulty in relating perceptions. In my case, I'm colorblind, so I can describe how red looks to me, but we'll never ultimately know what the other sees, since there's no common frame of reference. I doubt synesthetics would be that extreme, though, since they see the same colors and hear the same sounds—there's some bleed-over, but not a fundamental difference in perceiving the components. Very interesting stuff!

*clap clap clap* First chapter hooked me in and want to see the development between and Big Mac and Octavia and other characters interactions.
Can't wait to read the second chapter!

5071900 It's definitely not the only way hearing based synesthesia is felt, I've even read about folks who experience sounds as tactile textures, but hearing sound as colors is one of the more common forms of the thing.

And you're definitely right that it's possible he's experiencing it differently, I've just never heard of someone having that sounds=colors thing kick in for all noises, which is part of the reason why I would guess timbre doesn't matter as much - otherwise their synesthesia would kick in for all noises, musical or not, like you've got for Big Mac.

The thing I found that was interesting is that it's not the noise that's triggering that secondary sense, but the act of perceiving the noise as music that appears to turn it on.

Another common form of synesthesia sees numbers as colors. This makes a massive amount of sense when you factor in that it's the same parts of our brains that are firing off when we do math as when we do music. Math and music are fundamentally linked that way.

That's why people who are brilliant at one tend to be at least decent at the other. It makes me wonder if that's why Mac's got his "fancy mathematics". :eeyup:

I've never seen a fic cover synesthesia before. Big Mac's a marvelous candidate, and I love what you've done with his internal voice. Good nod to the mane six in the first part, as well.

Really looking forward to where you go with this. In your journal, you mentioned that this story has had a particular impact on you, and I'm excited and frightened to find out exactly why.

Some of that material is presented in the next chapter, as Big Mac's now got several ponies interested in the topic. When I researched synesthesia to write this, I didn't see any descriptions of what about the sound triggered the effect, so I played it as tone and timbre. I figure that with all the background noise that always goes on, Big Mac just filters that out, since it'd be the baseline for him. He doesn't really notice the effect unless it's a concentrated sound, and even then he only remarks on ones that interest him. So he'll talk about music in terms of colors, and in a few instances, he'll identify characters' voices by their color.

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Thanks all for the enthusiasm! I'm a little surprised at the low reader turnout, but I suspect people don't go for shipping pairs that aren't their OTP or pass over things without flashy cover art, but still, this was less than I expected. But this is why I wrote the whole thing in advance! Regardless of what kind of reception it gets, it'll all get posted.

5076116 That makes for a very interesting point of view he would have for life in general and would explain his quietness - wants a less distracting world.

It also means things like factories, arguments, and train rides - really any loud, chaotic noise - would all be extremely interesting things from his perspective because of the colors they'd paint the world with.

Simple Explanation expanding the Princesses box seats from two to three is a bit tricky but doable expanding it to ten just really can't be done. So Twilight sits with her fellow princesses or her friends and picked friends.

Back at Fleet carriage services with Twilight ,Spike giggled "gosh Big Mac sure looked silly after the show":moustache:
"I know a real silly Dragon who has a crus...." :twilightsheepish:
"Excuse me your carriage has some damage to the left side, Fleet policy . I can't take a return until the paper works done first":twistnerd:
Princess Twilight I need you to fill out these forms and deposit them with claims in room 86 down the hall to the left.:facehoof::twilightoops:
"Looks like your're going to be doin a late , late nighter, I'll be at Raritys when you're done":moustache::raritywink:

The life of a Royal cubical hamster:eeyup:

Looks like a keeper. MORE!

It is a rather low turnout isn't it? I think it might be the cover art - as silly as it is, I find that people do tend to judge stories quite harshly based on that. A story with a pencil sketch as it's cover like yours simply won't get as much attention as something with far worse writing but a snazzy piece of cover art.

Too bad I didn't get to reading this until today. I have been wanting to see more of Octavia and Mac since Keeping it Simple, and it didn't really sink in that that's what this was when I filed it away a few days ago. And it's pre-written! I couldn't be more eager to see the rest!

Yowza! Symphonies, synesthesia, Octavia, big Mac? Call me sold! Totally looking forward to Reading the rest of this!

Author Interviewer

Did you draw that image yourself?

Yeah, way back when I got the idea for the story, almost 3 years ago.. Wondered if that was a reason for the low readership, so I'll try some different cover art and move that to the chapters.

Author Interviewer

A possibility. :O The cover image you've got now is pretty good!

Nice to see Octavia NOT being paired up with Vinyl.. :pinkiecrazy::pinkiehappy:

5102993 Yeah, wholehearted agreement there, but I wouldn't be surprised if that's where the downvotes were coming from.

It's a very lovely build you've got going here and definitely one that captivates the interest. The next chapter's name and the sad tag still have me thinking "Oh no. It's coming. I don't know when, but it's coming."

It's not the dread of something bad, more the dread of the thing that makes you nervous, but still look forward to - like the ratcheting clack that suddenly goes away as the roller coaster crests the top for that first big drop. Likewise, poignant sadness is something both feared and enjoyed. Looking forward to whatever's next.

I do like the idea of Twilight making a point of continuing to staff the local library as time allows.

“I wanted to look up something.” Big Mac pursed his lips and leaned in closer. “You ever assume a thing was normal, or leastways not unusual? ’Cause it’s always been that way for you? Only to find it ain’t so normal?”

That hits home for me. I spent the first decade of my life thinking everyone has a good eye and a bad eye for basically that exact reason. Turns out you can have a lazy eye that doesn't wander or anything other than barely contribute to your overall vision, and if you never mention it to your parents it can stay under the radar for years.

I also really like that everyone around is just happily participating as appropriate in encouraging Mac and Octavia.

“I got it,” Big Mac replied. And before she knew it, he was nibbling softly at her mane, down at the roots, and working his way up her neck.
She nearly went weak in the knees, but then… “Um, do you normally do this?”

Oh my. :rainbowderp:

Well now, things are going pretty well. I wonder when that Sad tag is going to come into play.

Wow. I'm definitely reading this all over again when it's done. I have been waiting to see someone else do bonding moments through running; I wrote a scene like that awhile ago just because I haven't seen it done yet. It just makes a lot of sense.

5106846 Have you ever read "The Midnight Run"? I'm pretty sure it's in my favorites. There's apparently a different version or continuation or something that gets cloppy, which I haven't read, but I liked the one I did read.

Glad you kept the original cover image in the chapters at least. I like it better.

Looking forward to more!

5107993 I think it's more intimate, but you never know what's going to flip someone's switch, so I went with something flashier. Ship's probably already sailed on that, though.

Wow, this story is fantastic so far. I just really hope the sad tag isn't to... Sad? If you get what I'm saying.

5108019 Truthfully, I'm a little jealous that this constitutes 'low reader turnout,' but I get where you're coming from. A few days ago, a friend of mine mused that the works we put the most heart into often get the weakest response. I hope the lack of the usual attention doesn't detract from your feelings about 'Duet,' though. It's a gem so far.

5108166 It doesn't detract from my personal feelings about it, but I am glad I wrote the whole thing beforehand, or I might be sorely tempted to give up on it. But yeah, I guess it's not the best thing to go around griping about 400 views. In a relative sense, it's less than I would have hoped, but I shouldn't take it for granted.

Woah, wait wait wait wait WAIT. I didn't notice the "sad" story tag until just now.

Don't do this to me. Please, don't do what I'm afraid you are going to do.

Actually, do it because I'm sure that whatever sad element is there will be wonderfully done.

I'm just kidding, I am thoroughly enjoying this!:yay:



edit; this site sorely needs an octavia icon!

This story is quickly becoming the highlight of my Sunday evenings. I look forward to it every week.

Great work with Big Mac during his private moments. My head-canon has put 'Duet' a few months after 'Smarty Daddy.' :eeyup:

Elegy next chapter? Heart breaking melodies by Chopin spring to mind.

I didn't say anything earlier for some reason though... I knew it was up hours ago! I LOVE THIS STORY!!:yay::yay::yay:

I also love how you name the chapters and define everything. I am a musician myself, French Horn, and I like that. OH speaking of which... I should probably go practice now...

I FORGOT AGAIN! :pinkiegasp:

5131765 Me too now that I think about it... So yeah, thanks Pascoite. I am looking forward to more!:yay:

5131803 NOOOO!!!!
Though in all seriousness, it makes a boring story if no struggle or conflicts occur.

Oww, this is such a sweet romance between the two of them. They seem so in love.

One of my brothers, Siegfried, sees sound. It's a real trait; his brain is wired differently, and so he sees sound and, conversely, he can hear sights. I don't pretend to understand it, but it's apparently genetic, as we've had cases of it in our family at least once every other generation going back to the 16th century. Anyways, good story. I hope to see more of it.

5133622 Cool! Yeah, I knew it was something real. The information Octavia finds in chapter 2 is authentic.

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