Every piece of music makes us feel a certain way, and connecting the sounds we hear to certain tastes makes the music easier to interpret.
What’s your favorite food? Pizza, ice cream, and chicken nuggets are some of my favorite foods to gobble after a long day at school. What if I told you that music is a lot like food? Although we can’t literally taste music (unless you like eating paper) there are many similarities between listening to a song and eating a burger.
For example, a song like “Cha Cha Slide” is very energetic and gets you moving easily! Similarly, candies like Skittles and Sour Patch Kids make you super hyper! Another example: the first movement of the Bowen Viola Sonata No. 1 is heavy and romantic. Some heavy foods include: pasta, steak, and potatoes. Do you see the connection?
Although this comparison between music and food may be a little confusing, many musicians use this idea to help think of ways to play pieces. Every piece of music makes us feel a certain way, and connecting the sounds we hear to certain tastes makes the music easier to interpret. In this article, I will describe a time that I used this food strategy when learning a piece. I will also give yummy food examples that are mostly meant for string players.
Recently, I used this food strategy while I learned Prokofiev’s 2nd String Quartet. A chamber music coach asked me, “What food does this section remind you of?” After some thought, spicy ramen noodles came to mind, so our group explored what spicy ramen sounds like. To me, spicy ramen is angry and thick, and this made our quartet decide to use heavy bow strokes for most notes and sharp attacks on accented notes. Side note: when I think of spicy ramen, Anger from Inside Out comes to mind.
That is just one example of how food can help us interpret music. A simple way to use this delicious tool for a piece you’re currently practicing is to listen to a recording and think of food. Keep track of any yummy thoughts that come to mind, and then think about those foods.
For example: popcorn is light and crunchy, so staccato (short and detached) notes can be played with a light spiccato (separated) bow stroke. If you start to think of foods that are heavy (pasta, steak, and potatoes) then you can use a heavy detache (broad but separate bow stroke) that is close to the bridge. If you’re feeling fancy, you can also add a juicy wide vibrato.
Although this way of comparing food to music may be confusing and hard to understand, I hope you will give this idea a chance the next time you practice. It may not work for everyone, but I know it will benefit some of y’all! Personally, I really like this way of thinking about music, and it has made my listening more delicious! Bon appetit, and enjoy!
Credits: "Cha Cha Slide" by DJ Casper, "York Bowen Viola Sonata no. 1" performed by Timothy Ridout, Inside Out from Disney/Pixar