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The White (Bread) Album: Records Made from Food

What would cheese, ham, and tortillas all sound like?

The 200 members of the audience for Edible Sound will no longer be kept up at night with this burning question. For the close of London Science Gallery’s exhibit Fed Up: The Future of Food, veteran food musician Matthew Herbert was commissioned to play records made out of different food items. (In case you’re wondering, beforehand Herbert used laser cutters to make a hole in each cheese and ham slice.)

At the exhibit the audience was told to think about processed foods, and specifically what they were all made of, as the foods themselves played. At the end of the performance they had a discussion about the food industry. Herbert gave the audience the foods he had used for records to eat at the conclusion of the performance; pointing out as they ate them that people’s very willingness to consume these products is a part of the problem.

Herbert has a long history of combining music with activism and recently became interested in industrialized food production. That passion led to albums Plat de Jour and One Pig, which have compelling song titles like “The Final Meal of Stacey Lawton” and “An Empire of Coffee”. I listened to “The Truncated Life of a Modern Industrialized Chicken”, expecting to be horrified by sounds of death, heavy metal punctuated by screaming chickens. Well, I was shocked—the song, this ode to chickens, is beautiful. But don’t take my word for it!

As for cheese and their sounds, I imagine they’re quite beautiful. Oma, a cheese from the von Trapp Farmstead that is aged by Jasper Hill, would obviously by The Sound of Music. Nettle Meadow’s Kunik would be the bleating of happy goats, from their on-site animal sanctuary. Roaring Forties Blue, from King’s Island Dairy, would be the howling winds and crashing waves that gave this cheese their namesake.

Maybe someday, sound representing cheese will have its own word. Think terroir (a taste of place), but instead of place, a taste of sound. The Acoustics of Taste, perhaps?

Feature Photo Credit: MixMag

Molly Borgeson

Molly Borgeson is from Boston, loves cheese, and has a pet rabbit named Barnabas.