Cheese & The Sounds of Music

Does cheese taste differently when it’s sonicated with classical music versus hard rock? Do sound waves influence the metabolic process of cheese in such a way that the bioacoustic effects are palpable? The students at Germany’s College of Arts Bern and the cheese house K3 in Burgdorf wanted to find out.

Each year, the HKB moves to another municipality in the canton of Bern and finds unique projects to work on with partners on site. Recently, in the city of Burgdorf, the cheese house K3, students of the HKB and the sound arts study director Michael Harenberg, developed the artistic concept and technical infrastructure for the sound of the cheeses.

The project examined a reference cheese and other semi-hard cheeses blended with different music for their sensory properties. The hypothesis is that the various sonication of semi-hard cheeses leads to different manifestations of the cheeses’ sensory properties.

The cheeses were sonicated with the following pieces of music:

  • Ambient: Yello Monolith
  • Classical: Mozart – The Magic Flute
  • Techno:  Vril – UV
  • Rock: Led Zeppelin – Stairway to  Heaven
  • Hip Hop : A  Tribe Called  Quest – Jazz (We’ve Got)
  • Sine mean: 200  hz
  • Sine high: 1000  hz
  • Sinus low: 25  hz

When making the cheese, the milk was sourced from the same farmer and processed in the same kettle on the same day of production. Eight cheese wheels were in special boxes during maturation, each with different music styles. The reference sample was not sonicated, but also matured in a special box.

In general, it was discovered that the sensory discernible differences observed during the screening were all rather small. The conclusion that these differences confirm the hypothesis, ie, clearly due to the sound of music, was deemed “conceivable, but not mandatory”.

In order to find out whether there is a clear causal relationship between the sound of the cheeses with music and sensory differences, it was determined a larger experiment must be carried out. For this purpose, cheese production should be further standardized and a larger quantity of semi-hard cheese would have to be produced so that sufficient sample material is available.

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