Tag Archives: Plácido Domingo

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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Filed under Food, Science

Verdi’s gastromusicology

In opera, eating and drinking function largely as they do in society—they define social relationships. The antisocial act of refusing to share food or drink with merry people carries a negative connotation and implies an unfortunate result. Further gastromusicological laws may be deduced from Verdi’s operas:

  • A meal is never sad.
  • Hunger is never happy.
  • A shared meal or drink is a socially cohesive event.
  • The presence of food or drink precludes immediate catastrophe (unless poison is involved).
  • The act of feasting is a morally neutral event, but a feasting group or individual is morally negative when contrasted with a positive hungry group or individual.
  • The hero is a sober individual.
  • Music and text may lie, but the gastronomic sign never does.

The interaction between these gastronomic codes and other interweaving codes is often complex.

This according to “Feasting and fasting in Verdi’s operas” by Pierpaolo Polzonetti (Studi verdiani XIV [1999] pp. 69–106). Above, Placido Domingo and Teresa Stratas in Act 1 of La Traviata.

Related article: Verdi’s pigs

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Filed under Curiosities, Food, Opera, Romantic era