or Connect
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Cooking Discussions › Food & Cooking › Representing musical scales through food
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Representing musical scales through food

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hi all, 

I am a music major and I am studying at undergraduate level. I took last year off and I spent that time working in kitchens and studying in culinary school. Inside my university, we have these monthly talks on musicological topics open to the general public and afterwards there are drinks and some few things to eat. I was mildly disturbed by the fact that the food provided was just chips and dips, so I asked one of the academic staff who provided the food if it was ok if I provided some of the food. She was totally OK with this. I got very excited with this, being both a musician and a culinist I wanted these two forces to marry each other. 

Since the lecture was on popular American music I made American food (bagels topped with ham, cheese, rocket and tomato as well as rocket, goats cheese and sliced roasted beetroot), I also made mini Oreo cookies and cream cheese cakes. 

The next talk is about musical scales - how would you represent this through food? 

post #2 of 23
What sort of drinks are provided?
There is no better example of balance than pairing food and wine.
Scales and balance..
mimi
Edited by flipflopgirl - 3/29/13 at 8:41pm
post #3 of 23

hey tranquillo,

first off the top I'm thinking black and white food...black caviar and sour cream filled new potatoes might be too  pricey and labor intensive for you, but maybe you could make it work with crostini topped with goat cheese and a tiny dollop of  caviar or 'eggplant caviar'..if you can't afford goat cheese  you can make a mock boursin( will send recipe if you like)...and then there are always oreos!...next things that pops into my head is julie andrews..."doe a deer,a female deer" song... along those lines, fa la la la la la al falafel?  I will think on this a little more,but I gotta tell you, you are one heck of a good human.....wow,and thank you!!!!

 

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

Reply

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

Reply
post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for your truly sophisticated comments! I posted something similar in a music forum and almost everybody was at lost to what I should do - they all played with words - lots of puns thrown around, some bad ones, some terrible ones. Some of them suggested cutting things up into musical shapes ... it made me think a little about the way to approach things - from a visual angle or a flavour one?

 

Flipflopgirl - I will email the person who looks after drinks - there seem to be two white wines and one red. I'm assuming perhaps the mainstream ones - a merlot, a sauv blanc and a chardonnay (I'm not sure) - I do like the idea of matching the canapes for balance. 

 

Durangojo - thanks, all the academic staff thanked me profusely for providing them with refreshments. I was so happy though, so happy to have an audience eat my food, so happy that the skills I learned from culinary school and working in a kitchen helped me in another area in my life, so happy that I was allowed to cook. All I think about in my spare time is cooking, it's what I love doing in my spare time... I love it and I miss working in the kitchen. I miss culinary school. I love your suggestions - they are truly the suggestions of a great chef with creative mind and a sensitive palate. I don't have a budget that I need to stick to, but due to my status of poor university student I don't like to spend much above $60. I should tell you some of my resources:

- I prepare everything in the kitchen at home and wrap it up then I drop it off to the university and place it in the fridge (it takes an hour to go to university and I am very aware of the 2 hour 4 hour rule)

- There is a fridge and also a microwave (a microwave is my only reheating facility) 

 

In terms of time here is what I have: the night before (6 hours) and in the day (4 hours) (I can wake up as early as 6 in the morning, any earlier than that my mum will get annoyed since I'd wake her up). 

 

Why did you think black and white - did you think the black and white piano? 

 

Here is what I had in mind - I'm open to refining it or changing it.

 

I wanted to buy a disposable plastic white tablecloth and with a permanent marker draw five lines that represent the musical stave. I normally make two canapes (one sweet, one savory) and I am catering to about 25 people. I want to make sure that the canapes are circle shaped so that I could place them as dots on the musical stave.

 

As far as the two canapes go I was thinking: one cold soup (maybe tomato Harrisa soup) and chocolate truffles or cupcakes.   

post #5 of 23

Besides the cheesy obvious like a cake with a staff and scale drawn on it in ganache or notes made from pepperoni I really could not help you.  I don't think music and food can be linked in such a simplistic way.  The only thing I can thing of is that certain keys represent colors to me, much like they did to Scriabin.  E minor for example is yellow, G major is green, D major is blue, A major is red, A minor is grey, E-flat major is beige and so on.  But I think key colors may be different for everyone because my colors don't agree with Scriabin's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clavier_%C3%A0_lumi%C3%A8res

 

Of course you could just make nice appetizers with cute names like Guacamole in G, D minor Deviled Eggs, C-sharp cheddar balls ertc.

 

Another nice idea but has nothing to do with scales really is to serve food from one musical region or the favorite foods of the composer.  You could do a whole theme based on foods from Cremona where the best violin makers lived.  Or you could make Beethoven's favorite meals.  Rossini was a known glutton, serve some of the foods he inspired.  Anyway I digress.  Good luck.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply
post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 

Koukouvagia yes, I understand what you are saying - the colours representing certain scales is a subjective thing, just as pictures to music is a subjective one. The thing is, in certain settings we expect certain music - e.g. fine dining = jazz or classical music, grungy cafe = rock, retro looking cafe = music from the 70's. This idea of music being matched with food is not something unheard of. As an aspiring chef (I do intend to finish culinary school after this music degree) I think that it is quite possible to think of food artistically and match it up with music however tenuous it may seem. For me I have often thought of exploring sensibilities of certain centuries (if there was a talk about Schubert songs, I would look into the Viennese coffee houses of the 19th centuries and I would try to emulate that sensibility through the food - if we are going to listen to the music, why not have food of that period). This is an extension of what you said in your post.

 

I also think that we match certain images with music why not match taste and smell? The interpretation is up to the culinist. 

 

For this instance, I have thought of representing scales in a visual way - five lines on the tablecloth and canapes on top of the lines and in between them.

post #7 of 23

I think this is awesome.

 

Some of what makes music what it is is what's called counterpoint in writing music. Treble and bass clef's talk to one another. Maybe if you simplified flavors to act as counter to one another. Acid - base. Or sweet - sour, sweet - hot. Then, to increase the layers, you could add different kinds of flavors to create melody over the course of time, because that's what music is. It's dynamic. Think of the movie Jiro, the sushi master where when you eat in his place it's all in 20 minutes, and he creates a symphony of flavors to be had in sequence. Lay out the food / serve in such a way that it must be consumed sequentially, so you can make the subsequent flavor pop based on what came before.

 

Or you can just serve southern food for blues, french food for mozart, and jerk chicken for reggae.

 

My 2 cents.

 

Good luck, and let us know how it went!!

post #8 of 23

What an interesting topic! Well, first off, I think just ''drawing'' a musical staff with notes and clefs and stuff might be a bit too simplistic for musicology. But some other interesting ideas have been suggested...

 

So it seems, based on what others have said, there are roughly three ways to do this:

 

1. To cook food that authentically matches the music that is played. For instance with Telemann's Tafelmusik you might serve something from an 18th century German cookbook (you can find many of them for free on Google, as they're all in public domain now). Stravinsky's Rite of Spring might go with some primitive, rustic Russian country food (like shchi, bread and such), blues (especially delta) might go with some old-school rustic Southern food, and if you have ethnic music there, so much easier to find food that pairs. However, two problems here. I assume you want food that can be eaten with fingers (something like tapas) and isn't really filling and you might not be able to find such food for the particular kind of music (e.g. Tafelmusik I think simply demands that smoked knuckle with horseradish and stuff). Another problem is that there probably isn't going to be different kinds of music playing, so it doesn't after all make that much sense. Perhaps the music doesn't have to be played, it might suffice if it is merely a topic being discussed, but still, this isn't going to work with many different kinds of music. The only way this can work is to prepare a banquet that fits some kind of music if that is the only kind of music played/being discussed.

 

2. To prepare food that somehow matches the different qualities of different keys or modes, plus giving the dishes funny names. Colours are subjective, no doubt, but maybe we could agree on some feelings, somehow describe the different keys in different ways and then find foods that match that description, too. The same goes for modes.

 

3. What Jake said. However, this may be too difficult to do and I'm not sure how obvious the connection to music might be to the public.

 

But even if you fail to make the connection between food and music obvious, at least much better food will be served.

 

Anyway, what music forum did you post in?

post #9 of 23

Yes tranquillo, black and white for the keys on a piano as well as for sheet music. for sweets, my thoughts are fudge type brownies baked in mini muffin tins, or strawberries dipped in both dark and white chocolate. Truffles are great, but do take some work. On your savory side, i assume you be putting the soup in small plastic cups on your stave, correct? Perhaps you can make parmesan or herbed puff pastry breadsticks to lay across the rim of the cup or alongside in a glass,or small rosemary polenta croutons to top your soup or a savory shortbread cookie again to go alongside. I think that people like a little 'something' with soup....hot or cold. a few other random thoughts on savory keeping it simple and inexpensive, mini quiche or frittata bites, bruschetta with Tuscan white bean & garlic topping( think hummus on steroids), cremini mushroom and herbed polenta rounds with asiago. Your soup sounds wonderful as does your whole concept. perhaps you can post a photo when it's all set up.....how exciting for you to be a musician, cook and artist! One last thought if you have a thrift store near you...you can probably pick up a white sheet for pocket change.......wow, fwiw and my mistake but guess I didn't think this was such a complicated 'real deal' sort of thing, but rather just a nice, simple, fun and interesting way for a student to say thank you.

 

joey

 

 

 

Sent from my iPad On Mar 30, 2013, at 8:59 AM


Edited by durangojo - 3/30/13 at 10:01am

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

Reply

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

Reply
post #10 of 23

I once asked a great chef, "When do you know you have become a good cook?"

 

" You know you are a good cook when you can smell color, see mouth-feel and hear flavor."

 

Whatever "hearing flavor" means, somehow it all makes sense to me.

 

dcarch

post #11 of 23

Here's a difficult idea that involves a MIDI instaled table: every time a guest picks up a canapé or whatever, a musical scale sounds. You have all major and minor scales, also modal (you know: the seven Greek scales), indian  !/4 tone scales, pentatonic, some dodecaphonic, etc. But it doesn't involves any kind of synesthesia.

Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
Reply
Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
Reply
post #12 of 23
n/m
post #13 of 23

Um, my guess? A table with a MIDI installed?
 

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tranquillo View Post

...For me I have often thought of exploring sensibilities of certain centuries (if there was a talk about Schubert songs, I would look into the Viennese coffee houses of the 19th centuries and I would try to emulate that sensibility through the food - if we are going to listen to the music, why not have food of that period). This is an extension of what you said in your post.

 

I also think that we match certain images with music why not match taste and smell? The interpretation is up to the culinist. 

 

For this instance, I have thought of representing scales in a visual way - five lines on the tablecloth and canapes on top of the lines and in between them.

 

Listening to music and having food of that period is a good idea, as are many others.  But you didn't ask us for good ideas, you asked us about how to link food to scales.  Since there is nothing particularly deep and meaningful about scales there's no deep and meaningful idea that I can come up with to link it to food.  Food and music are often linked, but not scales.  At least I can't think of any.

 

It could be linked to chord progressions though, or even Schenkerian analysis.  I often see prix fix or progressive menus in those terms:I - IV - V - I for example could be app - first course - second course - dessert.  But again this is far more complicated than scales.

 

Although, you could do something visually with the circle of fifths.  There, you got your good idea, you're welcome.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply
post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteMcCracken View Post

Um, my guess? A table with a MIDI installed?
 

 

I never said it was easy. But a couple of pressure controls can do it. Imagine the situation: every guest is picking up his plate and a multitude of scales from all over the world begin to sound. Magic. Not even Stockhausen thought about that.

Ok, ok. I have a nice bottle of extra brut champagne here and it may be influencing my ideas.


Edited by Ordo - 3/30/13 at 5:00pm
Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
Reply
Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
Reply
post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post
 There, you got your good idea, you're welcome.

You certainly are full of yourself, aren't you. Especially when others have given you the framework.
Good Job!!!

post #17 of 23

I only saw this thread now, and haven't read carefully everything else so maybe i'm repeating, i hope not. .  But i would not do something too literal, but consider the four (or five, are they?) tastes as a metaphor of different musical keys, maybe?  Notes could be the flavors.  Variations on a theme, like Bach might do, based on a number of dishes that change the same basic smells through different tastes, sweet, salty sour, etc - might be interesting.  Rather than try to imitate the instruments (black and white keys are arbitrary, they could have made pianos with red and green keys too, it would make no difference). 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jake is a View Post

You certainly are full of yourself, aren't you. Especially when others have given you the framework.
Good Job!!!

 

Is that what you gather from my sense of humor?  Jake is a party pooper.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply
post #19 of 23

Be gentle people.

What about musical sound postcards? There're some recordable ones. Hmmm... Nyotaimori? You get a sushi piece, the girl sings a scale? No. Way too machism involved. 

Got it! A glass harmonica! Everybody gets a Riedel cup, drinks a little and gives a note.

Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
Reply
Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
Reply
post #20 of 23

Oy!  seems to me this is getting way over 'thunk'.   we're not talking about a

 posh catered reception at Carnegie Hall..tranquillo(the OP) is a student who wants to serve a few simple but creative appetizers for 25 people and has $60 bucks to spend.

 

joey


Edited by durangojo - 3/31/13 at 9:08pm

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

Reply

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

Reply
post #21 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much for your replies Durangojo - you're right; this is just for fun, nothing serious. The midi thing sounds awesome though, if only I could afford it... 

post #22 of 23

How about, and I am probably too late for the Scales, but, think about the feeling of scales. Majors are full, finished and rich. Minors keep you on edge and excite and leave you expecting something. Though this might work better in a discussion on chords. You can also look at scales as a transition. from deep bass through to high Soprano. and you can follow that with the food, from heavy, rich up to light and airy. Start, for instance, with a rich, cheesy, dense cream and end with a light, airy Mousse. Something along those lines. just think of scales as a progression and take the food through some sort of progression.

 

For future talks, think about the subject, for instance, period food for historically important time frames, regional food, obviously, you can even think about the emotions. if you are studying romantic music, think about the food you would serve at a candle lit dinner for two. small tidbits and bite sized sweets that encourage the sharing of secrets.

 

Wow. I love to cook and I have been a musician (singer) most of my life. I am a bit jealous of this endeavor!

post #23 of 23

Hmm... let's say I were playing a one octave scale ascending and descending.  There is a beginning, there is an end, there is a peak, and since you're a pianist, there is a scoop toward the outside, and an arc back toward the thumb.  There is rhythm and tempo, an upbeat and downbeat, tension and resolution, and there are the names given to each scale degree.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Food & Cooking
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Cooking Discussions › Food & Cooking › Representing musical scales through food