Taste the Music

A musician who tastes each chord - literally

When you listen to music, what does it taste like? That's not a silly question. Swiss researchers are studying a young musician who consistently identifies musical intervals by the flavors they induce on her tongue.

For example, a minor second is sour. A major second is bitter. A perfect fourth is mown grass. A minor sixth is cream. An octave has no taste at all. Neuroscientists call such mixed perception synaesthesia. It's a nagging reminder that what we perceive is not just a simple processing of stimuli from one or another of our senses.

Ever since I read The Man Who Tasted Shapes, I've been fascinated with synaesthesia. I'm almost jealous, in fact.