Jazz n' Shiraz - Synesthesia?
I was once invited to a ‘Jazz n' Shiraz’ evening. The combination worked very nicely. Was it just the poetic nature of the perfect pairing of jazz and shiraz? I think I may have stumbled on something quite special.
The Music Factor
I’m fascinated about synesthesia, the influence of one sense on another. I've heard of instances where the perception of music can have a profound impact on the visual sense. Vivid colours, shapes, and patterns are mentally generated by a person with this gift, just by listening to music.
I wondered if music could effect the taste of food or… wine. Since movie producers have always known that music or sound influences vision, visual perception, and thus, mood, perhaps could or should it influence taste as well?
“Finding the perfect playlist is a lot like finding the perfect bottle of wine – you know what your mood is calling for, but finding the perfect match can be difficult” Travis Fuller - Yellow Tail Wines.
Dr. Daniel Levitin, Neuroscientist and author of 'This is Your Brain on Music' says that while music can not determine our taste sensations, they can definitely influence them.
I heard Levitin give a wine tasting to a radio talk show host, who was blind-folded. There were 3 wines to taste. Levitin played a distinctly different style of music to accompany each tasting. The show host would then give his description of each wine; robust, acidic, complex etc. In his description he said he thought the wines were from different regions and he gave his order of preference from most liked to least liked. The kicker was that it turns out he was drinking the same wine from the same glass each time. What made the difference to his taste perception and his enjoyment factor, was the music.
So I am learning that wine has different emotional modalities, similar to music. Winemaker Clark Smith and his wife Susie, a clinical psychologist with two music degrees, have conducted ‘Wine and Music’ workshops along the same lines as Levitin presented on the radio show. In very broad terms he says that Cabernets are angry, Pinots romantic, Rieslings cheerful.
We are talking about ‘liquid music’. When wines are well matched with their emotional counterpart in music, the sensory perception is pleasant. When they are mismatched, the opposite is true. Smith says: ‘The trials we've been doing demonstrate the synergistic effects quite clearly... universally for thousands of people.’
Music and improv
For me, music is very much aligned with my mood. I really need to be in the right space to enjoy opera. But when I am, there is just nothing like the joy of those soaring melodies. Interestingly, if I don’t have the option to choose my own music, often the music itself will draw me irresistibly into its own emotional modality and I won’t want to turn it off.
What is the joy of improvisation, if not to be able to create the music that you are attuned to right in the moment. Playing as the mood passes through you. Creating the music to perfectly match your mood, moving with you as each note is played, as each phrase unfolds. A perfect match for ‘uncorking’ the real you.
We all have our own taste, our own perception and interpretation on the world. When we express it through music, we reveal something of who we are. I call this our musical personality. It's very precious and has a sensory effect on the rest of your day.