Qian (Janice) Wang



2-15-13 Pop-up : Musical Condiments

Music can change the way we perceive flavor.

For this Media Lab pop-up lunch, I wanted to play with the idea of musical "condiments" that would highlight certain flavors in the dish.


The pop-up lunch took place in a conference room on the 3rd floor.

Musical Condiments

I constructed the menu with three courses, with two musical condiments for each course. I used research from Mesz et al. and to create music that corresponds to basic tastes.

I started with Bach's French Suite No 5 in G major and modified it using Ableton Live.

1) For sweet, I lengthened the notes and sped up the tempo from 90 to 120.


2) For sour, I sped up the tempo to 130 and raised the pitch by an octave.

3) For salty, I broke the notes into staccato components.


4) For bitter, I slowed down the tempo, used a string bass instrument, and changed the tonality to minor.



First Course
Pineapple with orange granules

Condiment 1: Sour

Condiment 2: Sweet

Second Course
Thai green curry with roasted squash

Condiment 1: Salty

Condiment 2: Sour

Third Course
Coffee panna cotta

Condiment 1: Bitter

Condiment 2: Sweet


The panna cotta course had the clearest reaction of bitter vs. sweet notes depending on the music. The salty and sour music had less clear reactions, but several people commented on the change in flavor and textures of the curry with different music.