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Music Sounds Better With Food? The Theory of Matching Palates to Playlists

Some hope to pair the two with scientific exactitude, while others prefer to leave room for the sublime. Andrew Dickens investigates the nascent field of ‘gastrophysics’

palates and playlists
Research shows people are more likely to enjoy a meal if they like the music playing as they eat. Photograph: Hero Images/Getty Images/Hero Images

The relationship between music and food is much like any other great bond: partners, best friends, loving siblings – you just can’t imagine them not being together. Whether at restaurants, weddings, festivals, or a picnic blanket at Proms in the Park, they’re almost inseparable.

But what sparked this passionate affair? It’s not like the first humans were chewing on a woolly mammoth when they decided that what the meal really needed was a conch concerto in the background – food was functional, music was non-existent. Then along came civilisation (jumping a few millennia of cultural evolution) and the romance began. And like many a good romance, it began with a party.

“Music and food have always gone hand in hand,” says singer, songwriter and broadcaster Cerys Matthews, whose boutique festival, the Good Life Experience, gives equal weight to both. “Were feasts ever silent? No. Whether the Romans, or the bards of Wales, music was always present.

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