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Every bite of the Middle-Eastern music

Ever experienced the taste of music? If you thought that was an impossibility, Alessandra Ciucci from the Department of Music at Northeastern University would prove you wrong. She suggests that we shouldn’t just listen to music; rather, we should experience them. “I want you to taste the music, let your ear smell it,” she says. Ciucci is teaching a course on Middle Eastern music for students who come from departments other than just hers. In one of her sections, she explores it by going beyond traditional methods and using other sense organs.
What Ciucci suggests is not some madness by music passionate. Rather, there is anthropological evidence to support this. According to the authors of The Reorganization of the Sensory World, anthropological work suggests that we should not just see senses as a biological group upon which cultural meanings have been bestowed. Rather, the senses themselves become cultural and the perception is both a cultural and a physical act. “Smelling music”, thus, becomes not a metaphor because it is naturally so but because our culture informs us so.
Ciucci offered her guests a range of Middle Eastern food and played music from the same area as her guests ate it. Mark Sutherland, a cheese expert and graduate from the Culinary Institute of America, says that what he heard was influenced by what he had on his plate. After this, Ciucci played a traditional song from the Arabian Peninsula. Different listeners heard different food items. While some felt like they were eating dry bread, some other thought of pomegranates and olives.
This is not merely a study for Ciucci. It is more of the sensory experience that this offers. It is about the cultural experiences that we all bring into the song to create a subjective interpretation of it.
N Malavika Mohan