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Music and Taste: exploring sonic cuisine


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Does what we hear influence our perception of, and behaviors toward, food and drink? If so, what are the mechanisms underlying these cross-modal effects? And finally, how can a composer utilise this information to create multi-sensory compositions that include taste elements to expand an audiences experience and engagement with a piece of music?
While many people intuitively believe that our sense of hearing has little influence on our experiences of foodstuffs, the evidence that has been published to date suggests that this is not always the case. This research has revealed that what we hear (be it music, the sounds we make while eating, or even pure tones or bursts of white noise) can have a dramatic effect on our perceptions of food and drink. These effects include perceptions of freshness based on timbral qualities of ‘crunch’, and changing bitterness to sweetness in candy through different frequencies.
The paper will explore practical examples of how some of this scientific information has been used to guide elements in the composition of a number of new musical works that feature an edible (and/or olfactory) element - with a particular focus on a multi-sensory piece titled “Flutter” - which involves all five primary senses, including three flavour elements intrinsically linked to the piece through visual colour and sonic texture.

The compositions that will be discussed serve as practice-based experiments into the world of multi-sensory music. Concrete evidence of the cross-modal correspondences outside of the scientific lab is still in early stages of information gathering. Due to the nature of human perception this information can also be quite varied, and at times anecdotal, but the research is slowly developing through an ongoing process of both: practice-based composition (accompanied by real-world performances); and scientific method, in collaboration with the Sensory Science department at Otago University.

Item Type: Paper presented at a conference, workshop, or other event which was not published in the proceedings
Uncontrolled Keywords: Conference, musicology, sensory, science, music, sound, perception
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Q Science > QP Physiology
Divisions: Schools > School of Media Arts
Depositing User: Jeremy Mayall
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2016 20:06
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023 04:31

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