Changing tastes – Unusual ingredients

Over the last 18 months, I’ve been learning a lot about taste modulation. This is the science of changing, enhancing, intensifying the perception of flavours and textures in foods through the use of sounds, lighting and various other parameters.

Based on these sensory phenomena, I’ve created Unusual ingredients, in collaboration with food artist Caroline Hobkinson and music producer Adam Martin. We’re releasing an album and touring a live show that uses original music to play around with the way food feels in your mouth, tastes on your tongue or crunches between your teeth.

Catch the Unusual ingredients launch night at Kings Place on 11 March 2020 to experience the multi-sensory combinations we’ve created.

Taste Lab – test driving taste modulation

Back in October 2019, we met with leading scientist Charles Spence to discuss his research in the field of gastrophysics – gastronomical physics, or the science of eating – and to test drive some of our music with him (see photo above).

It’s incredible how much the experience of something as simple as a cup of coffee or piece of chocolate can be altered when the sounds around you change. Certain types of high frequencies, for example, can make food taste sweeter, whilst lower sounds accentuate bitterness (see Charles Spence’s groundbreaking Bittersweet Symphony experiment).

Turning these scientific principles into a creative project has been a really enjoyable experience. Adam and I have been challenged to compose music capturing the sweet, spicy, bitter and sour dimensions of a variety of ingredients – and to weave the textural sounds of food into our compositions.

Catch the Unusual ingredients live show to experience the multi-sensory combinations we’ve created. See tour dates here: unusualingredients.co/live


Photo: Adam Martin 2019

Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Supported by Help Musicians UK Fusion Fund. Supported by Leeds College of Music.

Vegetable Orchestra update

A few photos from our recent workshop with the Vegetable Orchestra in Vienna (me Caroline Hobkinson and Adam Martin), learning about ways to connect food and music…

A really productive session with a lovely bunch of people – and open, creative artists too. Looking forward to our next meeting in May!

This research and development project is funded through Arts Council England’s International Artist Development Fund.artscouncil_britishcouncil_lockup_black

ONE [Seven Arts]

Well, that’s the last ONE gig in this series. Pianist/composer Ben Gaunt gave another brilliant performance, and artist Debbie Sharp created a real sense of atmosphere in the Seven venue.

Thanks to everyone who came along! A studio recording of the music from the project is in the pipeline…

A few more words from our visitor book:

Fantastic – I’m going home to put things in the piano!

An incredible event – exciting, dramatic, challenging..massively enjoyed.

A thoroughly enjoyable evening of unusual and interesting images, sounds and spoon monologues!

Thanks also to Adam Martin for these really atmospheric photos.

ONE in London and Brighton

We had two more performances of ONE at Iklectik, London and The Rose Hill, Brighton on 8 and 9 September. Some nice comments from our ONE Visitor Book…

“Totally mad and unlike anything I’ve ever heard. Ben is a talent.”

“A fantastic, unique experience. Thoroughly enjoyed it!”

“I’m tired” (Ben Gaunt, pianist)

We’re back again at Seven Arts, Leeds this Friday 15 September, 7.30pm. Tickets: sevenleeds.co.uk/event/one/

Here are a few photos from Iklectik and The Rose Hill: