Can You Taste Music???

by Neil Southgate

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Surely not???

Can you taste music?  I certainly hope so! 

Am I insane?  Music has no taste, surely? 

When I say taste, I mean taste quite literally in the sense of how we interpret taste to define what we eat, how food is cooked, whether or not it tastes nice, etc:  In simple, the dimensions of the eating experience.  I do not mean taste in the figurative sense of my opinion on what is good or bad music.  Someone must like acid jazz, I suppose! 

To be frank, I will not be speaking literally either (by speaking, I obviously mean writing); the prose will be much more metaphorical, …maybe. 

So, there you have it.  I will be talking (writing) about the taste of music without commenting (noting) on its flavour in my mouth or about if or how I like it.  I will be comparing music to descriptions of taste using pictures to tell a story (though, not through illustration).  I will be as lucid as a fresh painting, though not with simile, hopefully.  Ahem… 

Participation in music really is the umami.  The something special, the je ne sais quoi, the ‘I just can’t put my finger on it’ feeling of being an active participant in an event.  Never, in my experience, is music more alive as when you are there, taking part, in musical activities.  It is magic.  As a musician myself, I encourage anyone and everyone to take part! 

The seasoning, the tastes of salt and pepper, for example, are aligned in my mind with technique.  Technique doesn’t make or break a music performance, but a well-balanced dish is definitely improved with careful application of technique.  Too much or too little and the dish and music performance can be left flat. 

Similarly, the spice levels and the balance of sweet and bitter notes, are the musicality of music The little flourishes of individualism that turn a musical performance from a robotic rendition of boringness into music that is brimming with expression and excitement.  It’s not what you say but how you say it.  At least that’s what I like to think!    

The texture (the mouthfeel) of music is in the act of learning and practice.  To create the body, you first need to learn the art.  Making music, creates the texture.  The texture can be complex or simple and both can achieve fantastic results.  Providing you are making music, be that performing or composing, this is all that matters.  The feeling of music, how it spreads over your body and generates emotions and feelings within yourself that you never knew existed are all part of the recipe. 

The look and smell of the music are also vital.  This represents the anticipation of what is to come, the results and after-effect of the experience and the excitement as different parts of the dish are sampled.  You eat with your eyes, so the saying goes, and music is as much a visual art as it is others. 

Go!  Make music.   Make some tastes that will last a lifetime!  Go and make music that will not only nourish you in the moment but can serve to nourish your soul for now and the future!  Bake me a music cake.  I look forward to devouring it using the final sense of taste how it sounds, yum!  

?  Lots of love, Neil 

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