Since the late 1970s, when he was a founding member of the electronic-pop trio Yellow Magic Orchestra, Ryuichi Sakamoto has composed and produced music for dance floors, concert halls, films, video games, ringtones, and acts of ecological awareness and political resistance. Many consider him exemplary not only for his music but also for his listening, and for his understanding of how music can be used and shared.
In 2017 Sakamoto assembled a gustatory soundtrack for Kajitsu, a Japanese restaurant in Murray Hill, Manhattan. In an interview, he compared Kajitsu’s cuisine to the beauty of Katsura Rikyu, a palatial villa in Kyoto, but said that the restaurant’s former musical backdrop was more akin to that of Trump Tower.
Sakamoto created at least five rough drafts before settling on the current version of the Kajitsu playlist, now available for public consumption on Spotify.
This according to “Annoyed by restaurant playlists, a master musician made his own” by Ben Ratliff (The New York times 23 July 2018, p. D1).
Above, a meal at Kajitsu; below, the Kajitsu playlist.
Course 3: All dishes by Laissez Fare is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.
In 1967, in the hands of Syd Barrett and Brian Wilson, the incongruous, semantically complex figure of the vegetable came to illuminate aspects of psychedelic consciousness and—partly by design, partly by accident—the link between LSD and Anglo-American popular music.
Their vegetable imagery also illuminated the scope and limits of changes in the relationship between creative artists and the Anglo-American popular music industry in the mid-1960s; and in retrospect, the figure of the vegetable cast into relief the counterculture’s utopian and dystopian dynamics as manifested in these songwriters’ personal lives.
This according to “The vegetables turned: Sifting the psychedelic subsoil of Brian Wilson and Syd Barrett” by Dale Carter (Popular music history IV/1 [April 2009] pp. 57–75).
Below, one of the songs discussed in the article—Wilson’s Vegetables, which is rumored to include the sound of Paul McCartney chewing celery.
In an experiment, eleven subjects unknowingly participated in a study of the effects of music tempo on the number of bites per minute and the total time of the meal.
Three music conditions were used: fast tempo, slow tempo, and no music. A significant increase in the number of bites per minute was found for the fast-tempo condition, suggesting arousal as a possible mediator. No difference was found in total time of meal.
A questionnaire revealed no evidence that subjects were aware of the music.
This according to “The effect of music on eating behavior” by Thomas C. Roballey et al. (Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society XXIII/3  pp. 221–22). Many thanks to Improbable research for bringing this study to our attention!
Below, do diners chew faster at the Hard Rock Cafe?
A visitor to the 39-year-old composer’s Vienna apartment described Beethoven’s personal habits in notoriously disparaging detail—a picture curiously contrasting with the same reporter’s observations of his fastidious attention to his favorite beverage.
“For breakfast he had coffee, which he usually prepared himself in a glass machine. Coffee seems to have been his most indispensable food, which he prepared as scrupulously as the Turks. Sixty beans were calculated per cup and were often counted, especially when guests were present.”
This according to “Beethoven’s 60 coffee beans” by Leonardo Ciampa (The American organist LII/3 [March 2018] pp. 50-51).
Below, a highly caffeinated performance by Peter Schickele.
When Jason Mraz bought a 5½-acre ranch northeast of San Diego in 2004, he thought it would be “a place to be isolated when you have a crazy life.” The densely packed property is planted mostly with avocados, along with Meyer lemons, pomegranates, guavas, and mangoes.
In his early performing days Mraz had regularly subsisted on fast food, soda, and cigarettes, but as he began to tour he realized that a better regimen was essential to maintaining his health, and in 2008 “we decided to bring a chef out on tour with us for 30 days and go vegetarian and raw to see what would happen. And I mean, a dramatic transformation. Not just in weight loss, but in overall health and energy.”
Mraz became a dedicated locavore, and an avid cultivator and consumer of his avocados and other crops. “The first time I was served a big chunk of avocado on my salad, I didn’t know what to do with it. Now I’m among them all the time, experimenting with them, making meals and adding spices and whatnot. You know, your palate evolves.”
This according to “The accidental avocado farmer” by Jim Romanoff (Eating well XIV/1 [January–February 2015] pp. 88–94).
Today is Mraz’s 40th birthday! Below, performing Back to the earth at his avocado ranch.
Can it be a mere coincidence that in many English dictionaries the words mushroom and music are right next to each other? Points of contact between mushrooms and new music go beyond the figure of the self-proclaimed mushroom-lover John Cage.
One fundamental similarity is the fact that both exist in marginal social zones whose inhabitants are often dismissed as other-worldly weirdos. In the early 21st century there is only a difference in degree between the social acceptability of composers and woodland gnomes.
This according to “‘After all, nature is better than art’: Exkursionen ins verborgene Verhältnis von Pilzen und (neuer) Musik” by Dirk Wieschollek (Neue Zeitschrift für Musik CLXXIII/1  pp. 32–37).
Above, Morchella (morel), a favorite of Mr. Cage. Below, Václav Hálek composed over 1000 works referencing different varieties of mushrooms.
If you plan to welcome the new year with a ritual libation, you might consider whether subliminal factors are at play.
In an experiment, French and German music was played on alternate days from an in-store display of French and German wines over a 2-week period. French music led to French wines outselling German ones, whereas German music led to the opposite effect on sales of French wine.
Responses to a questionnaire suggested that customers were unaware of these effects of music on their product choices. The results may be discussed in terms of their theoretical implications for research on music and consumer behavior and their ethical implications for the use of in-store music.
This according to “The influence of in-store music on wine selections” by Adrian C. North, David J, Hargreaves, and Jennifer McKendrick (Journal of applied psychology LXXXIV/2 [April 1999] pp. 271–76).
Below, what would you pair with the German-born French composer Jacques Offenbach’s Glou! Glou! Je suis le vin (Glug! Glug! I am the wine)?
Gamelunch is a sonically augmented dining table that exploits the power and flexibility of physically-based sound models towards the investigation of the closed loop between interaction, sound, and emotion.
Continuous interaction gestures are captured by means of contact microphones and various force transducers, providing data that are coherently mapped onto physically-based sound synthesis algorithms. While performing usual dining movements, the user encounters contradicting and unexpected sound feedback, thus experiencing the importance of sound in the actions of everyday life.
This according to “Gamelunch: A physics-based sonic dining table” by Stefano Delle Monache, Pietro Polotti, Stefano Papetti, and Davide Rocchesso, a paper included in Proceedings of the 33rd International Computer Music Conference (San Francisco: International Computer Music Association, 2007, pp. 41–44).
Above and below, Gamelunch in action.
Some pop stars are remembered for their music, some for their style; but Elvis Presley may be the only one who’s also remembered for a peanut butter sandwich—not just any peanut butter sandwich, but one that adds bananas and sometimes bacon to the mix and is typically pan-fried or finished on a griddle.
The Elvis actually predates Elvis Presley. Indeed, the sandwich has its roots in what the food blogger Tina the Mom describes as “Southern po’ folks cuisine”. It seems as if every celebrity chef now offers a recipe for it, and in a food world that can never leave well enough alone there’s been a push to reinvent the sandwich in myriad ways.
What’s behind the fascination with this dense mess of comfort food? It begins with the fact that Presley, despite his royal status, always retained a fondness for the simple things in life. Then again, the Elvis isn’t quite so simple, and its over-the-top aspect is perhaps key to the appreciation of both man and sandwich.
This according to “Celebrate Elvis Presley’s birthday with a sandwich fit for a king” by Charles Passy (Speakeasy 8 January 2014).
Below, the King recommends milk with that.
Beethoven’s conversation books indicate that he particularly liked pasta with parmesan cheese and salami.
He also liked veal, beef, liver, chicken, oysters, fish, spinach, fruit, cream, sugar, soup, eggs, very strong coffee and, last but not least, wine. He didn’t like pork and he was not really fond of beer.
This according to Die gute Kocherey: Aus Beethovens Speiseplänen by Martella Gutiérrez-Denhoff (Bonn: Beethoven-Haus, 1988); the book includes several recipies.
Below, a chance to enjoy Beethoven’s music with some street food.