A Swiss cheesemaker is currently experimenting with music to make his cheese taste better.
According to AFP, Beat Wampfler is testing how music can influence how his Emmental is made from his 19th century cellar in Burgdorf, Switzerland.
Wampfler is a vet by day, but in the evenings he embarks on a quest to make Emmental cheese better and better. Since September, his experiments have involved playing songs from bands like Led Zepplin and A Tribe Called Quest during the cheese making process. Students from the University of the Arts in Bern are helping with the study, called "Sonic cheese: experience between sound and gastronomy."
They are hoping the results might show how music can change the flavour of the cheese.
"Bacteria is responsible for the formation of the taste of cheese, with the enzymes that influence its maturity," Wampfler told AFP. "I am convinced that humidity, temperature or nutrients are not the only things that influence taste... Sounds, ultrasounds or music can also have physical effects."
There has been increasing research showing the surprising positive impact sound can have. For example, although the scientific literature is limited, there have been cases of people saying their plants grow better when they speak or sing to them.
One hypothesis is that it increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the plant's vicinity. Another theory is that if you make the effort to talk to your plants, you're more likely to water them and take better care of them.
Charles Darwin was interested in the idea, and designed an experiment where his son Francis played his bassoon to the plants. But the results were inconclusive.
However, some research has found that plants can recognise "threatening" sounds, and prepare to defend themselves when they do.
Researchers from the University of Arts are intrigued by the the effects of sound, especially as scientists have recently been experimenting with how ultrasound can affect chemical reactions.
"At first we were sceptical," said Michael Harenberg, the university's music director. "Then we discovered there is a field called sonochemistry that looks at the influences of sound waves, the effect of sound on solid bodies."
In sonochemistry, ultrasound is used to alter chemical reactions and processes. So it is possible that other soundwaves may have their own effects.
Wampfler's cheeses are going to hear a mixture of techno music, rock anthems, ambient choirs, and Mozart's classic "Magic Flute." The cheese will be tested in the new year.
"Will the cheese taste better? It's hard to say," Wampfler said.
"I hope that the hip-hop cheese will be the best."
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