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Musical food

October 28th, 2008 (08:36 pm)
Tags: ,

current mood: contemplative
current song: Flight of the Buffalo Wing

At lunch today, R1 was talking about some series of TV shows during a PBS pledge drive. Each show was a sort of saccharine history of some particular group of immigrants. For each show, during one of the pledge breaks, the PBS station brought on some entertainer from that ethnic group. And every single one of them (R1 says) said something like "My people have a special relationship with music and food"—as if that didn't describe everybody on the planet, ever.

So somehow the idea popped into my head, and I said, "You could have some kind of food that plays its own music.". R2 looked startled at this. "Well, I didn't say it would be easy." At this, R2 looked positively frightened, so I knew I was on to something.

Now, it's not difficult to imagine a food with vents through which air can be forced, to make a whistle. (There are lollipops like that; and potatoes sometimes whistle in the microwave.) The main problem is, how do you power it? This has to be something edible; baking an iPod into a cake is cheating.

For whistling, I think the basic approach is pretty obvious: include something in the food which reacts and produces a gas. One way would be to use yeast, but then you'd have yeast flavor left over. Another would be to use carbonation—you could have a special Coke bottle with a button to push to break the seal; it lets the carbonation escape slowly, though a whistle.

There's also percussion; you could have some sort of hard candy inside a container made of chocolate, say, partitioned with rice paper. Not sure how you'd power it, though. (Using it as a maraca is not what I want; I want it to be self-powered.)

Then, of course, there's the problem of how you make music, rather than just sound. I don't insist on anything elaborate, but it should at least modulate the sound in a regular pattern. This one has me mostly stumped; the best I've come up with is a whistle which degrades, enlarging the aperture and lowering the tone.

Anybody else got any ideas?

(And, no, "beans, beans, the musical fruit" do not count.)


Posted by: robertdfeinman (robertdfeinman)
Posted at: October 29th, 2008 02:54 am (UTC)

Does the wax candy pan pipes one used to be able to buy count? You weren't really supposed to eat the wax part, but everybody sort of did anyway.

Posted by: Ursula Messerschmitt (snobahr)
Posted at: October 29th, 2008 04:42 am (UTC)
Cooking-Spice of Life

If one were to make a candy slide whistle, powered by carbonated water, that could be "musical" for a while...

Posted by: Hey You (martianfencer)
Posted at: October 29th, 2008 05:11 am (UTC)

I once had a student who would make playable flutes out of most anything.

This guy makes useable instruments from a variety of foods:

And these folks make actual music from their carrots.

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