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:

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.