Complicity and the Chemical Senses

Blindfolded patrons sit around a table and eat various food items, smell perfume, and listen to music.

The visual arts and the sonic arts arrive to us from a distance, via electromagnetic radiation or fluctuations in air pressure, but taste and smell require direct contact. Philosophers have long debated whether the fundamentally different nature of these chemical senses precludes the elaboration of an art of ideas based on them, something that goes beyond the ancient and sophisticated traditions of perfumery or cuisine.

Vinfonies, Nessun Dorma, and Gastromorphology

A bottle of wine and a wine glass on a tale alongside an electronic keyboard, music notation paper, headphones, and a computer screen.

It’s easy to recognize several time scales to a meal, from the succession of courses (even simply saving dessert for last) to the entropy that occurs as a hot dish cools or a frozen dish melts to the succession of individual bites. Recognizing these time scales is straightforward, but synchronizing music to them is a much trickier proposition.

Music Inspired by Visual Art

A musical score in front of a framed artwork showing a landscape scene of a mountain surrounded by water.

A distinction needs to be made between music that uses a work of visual art as a source of inspiration and music that has been envisioned expressly for the purpose of illuminating, commenting upon, and conversing with visual art—music where viewing the art while listening to the music is, in some sense, essential to the full realization of the composer’s vision.

New Music for Learning

music and learning

Has an experience with music ever helped you to better understand or appreciate an idea, a realm of knowledge outside of music itself, or some other aspect of life? Have you observed this happening for others? What elements of the musical content and/or its presentation do you think made that experience particularly effective?

Tasting Notes

A group of people sitting around a table wearing headphones and sipping whisky.

Studies show that loud sounds dull our sense of taste, which may explain why airplane food tastes so bland, and why people order more tomato juice on planes, as umami flavors are the most resilient to volume.

Close Listening: Music and Power

Electricity Substation

Systemic bias is nowhere near its death throes and we all need to be vigilant against it. Be mindful of what you vote for with your dollars and your attention.

Close Listening: Music and Race

Open Sign Through The Glass Of Window

It should make us all deeply uncomfortable how white the new music scene is. We must address the fact that we are missing out on certain new music because it is being classified for different communities, or not being classified at all.

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