Did You Smell That Mozart? Immersive Concerts Tickle the Senses

What if Bach tasted like bacon?(Photo: Creative Commons/Flickr/cookbookman17)
What if Bach tasted like bacon?(Photo: Creative Commons/Flickr/cookbookman17)

We’ve known for a long time that the hills are alive with the sound of music. But soon the hills might also be alive with the smell, taste and feel of music.

BitterSuite, a project with ties to the University of Sussex, is exploring the experience of synesthesia, a neurological condition in which the senses cross signals, causing people to experience certain sounds, for instance, as color. Through classical music performances with added scents, tactile experiences and flavors, the BitterSuite researchers aim to “use sensory stimulation to enhance young peoples experience of and engagement with classical music.

Here’s how the music blog of the British newspaper The Guardian described the Phaedrus Ensemble’s recent BitterSuite-infused performance of  Debussy’s String Quartet at Rich Mix arts center in London:

… the audience were blindfolded and fed different sensory experiences in parallel with the music: fizzy pop and cola bottles for the effervescent second movement and fingers scampering up your arms in tandem with the first violin, then as the music changed, a scent-soaked silk scarf flickering across your skin, and hands laid on to give a sensation of pressure or relaxation.

Imagine: perfumed Prokofiev, moist Mozart, bacon-flavored Bach.

It’s happening. Now.

Read more: Scented Scarves, Scampering Fingers and Ice: Concerts the Immersive Way (Guardian)

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