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Pan pipes, pinot noir and productivity: The hidden power of music

By Stephen Moss

24 Oct 2022 · 5 min read

Editor's Note

A new exhibition in the UK looks at how music affects the body and brain and drives behaviours such as productivity and spending. Apparently, country music prompts more utilitarian purchases.

I’m always happy to talk about my taste in music, but what about the taste of music? A new exhibition at Manchester’s Science and Industry Museum is asking visitors to match certain types of music with tastes. Does this sound sweet, sour, bitter, salty?

Ridiculous, you might think, and as I listen to each of the sounds – screechy, plinkety-plonky, lush, mournful – initially I am reluctant to make my selections, fearing ridicule in front of curator Steven Leech. But then something magical happens: the screechy music does indeed suddenly bring to mind bitter lemons and the lush sounds do conjure up strawberries.

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