Tag Archives: Cavalleria rusticana

Synesthesia with wine

wine-piano

In an experiment, 250 adults were offered a glass of wine in return for answering a few questions about its taste. After clearing their palates, each received a glass of either cabernet sauvignon or chardonnay and was taken to one of five rooms: four that each featured a different type of music playing in a continuous loop, and a silent one serving as a control. Participants were asked to spend about five minutes sipping the wine, and were told not to converse.

A smaller pilot study had determined the four types of music:

  • “powerful and heavy” (“O Fortuna” from Orff’s Carmina burana)
  • “subtle and refined” (“Вальс цветов” [Val’s cvetov/Waltz of the flowers] from Cajkovskij’s Щелкунчик [Ŝelkunčik/Nutcracker])
  • “zingy and refreshing” (Nouvelle Vague’s Just can’t get enough)
  • “mellow and soft” (Michael Brook’s Breakdown)

After drinking the wine and listening to the music, participants were asked to rate the wine’s taste on a scale from zero to ten in the categories represented by the music types. In each case, participants perceived the wine in a manner consistent with the music they had listened to while drinking it.

This according to “Wine & song: The effect of background music on the taste of wine” by Adrian C. North (Wineanorak, 2008). In an earlier experiment, documented in “The influence of in-store music on wine selections” (Journal of applied psychology LXXXIV/2 [April 1999] pp. 271–276), North and two colleagues demonstrated that playing music identified with a particular country in a wine shop had a positive influence on sales of wine from that country.

For a related post, see As bitter as a trombone. Below, Mario del Monaco shares observations on wine and synesthesia from Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana.

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Musical marksmanship

Playing the piano with a rifle” in The Strand magazine 28 (December 1904, pp. 580–8) describes a performance by Colonel Gaston Bordeverry, who learned the intermezzo from Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana by ear and, having devised a system of bull’s-eyes to indicate the correct notes on a specially-built piano, performed the tune by firing 66 shots at the instrument with a rifle. The specially-made bullets were powderless and noiseless when they struck, which they did with enough force to pierce through a one–inch-thick plank.

Colonel Bordeverry and his daughter were variety show performers in the early twentieth century; his performance of the intermezzo was one of their most successful numbers. The article was reprinted as “Not the usual performance practice” in the American Musical Instrument Society newsletter 32/1 (Spring 2003, pp. 12–13, 16).

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Filed under Curiosities, Dramatic arts, Performance practice