Proposal by: Aya Yoshida

Music Pairing

Project Proposal: Eat Music Listen Dining

Music Pairing is the process of pairing food and dishes with music to enhance the dining experience in a similar way to wine pairing.


Music Pairing -

Project Description

"Music Pairing" is the process of pairing food and dishes with music to enhance the dining experience in a similar way to wine pairing. The main concept of wine pairing is that certain elements (such as texture and flavor) in both the food and the wine interact with each other, and thus finding the right combination of these elements will make the entire dining experience more artistry. In Music Pairing, the matched music is composed with inspiration from each dish (+wine), and the musician is playing along with meal course in live. Music Paring gives the customer/audience not just background music during the dining but also a new perspective which brings out a new aspect of both music and dish. How is the taste of food changed by music? How is the music changed by the taste of food? Everything could be reconstructed by auditory, olfactory or taste, or even everything could destroy each other.

Since I have written my new work series “Scented…” dedicated to Japanese coloratura soprano Ayako Tanaka last year, I have been more interested in how we could reach our unconscious memory by auditory and olfactory. The piece was inspired by specific perfumes to compose, and each component in the perfume was transformed into each melody in the music. It is like the way similar to leitmotif in opera. Just as that scent will waft back when you have forgotten it, memories and sounds would do the same at unintended moments.

I just had the experience of perfuming my own scent for the first time at Mediamatic “Smelling Like Another Being”. It is often said that perfumery is akin to composing music but I felt like it’s more about orchestration. It's very similar to the process of adding the instrument in this range and at this volume. Also it’s like coloring, if you mix a lot of things all at once, it doesn't turn to be black, it turns to be dirty grey. One drop could bring everything together, or it also could destroy everything. Moreover as the orchestration could sometimes reconstruct the structure of the piece, that drop could change even the meaning of the scent. As some composers have already tried to take scent in their musical work, for example, Mystère by Scriabin or DÜFTE – ZEICHEN by Stockhausen. There are so many similarities between music and scent; invisible, intangible, vague (in a way…), having something left in the space, and the time arts. In Japanese culture, the art of enjoying incense, with all its preparatory aspects, is called monkō (聞香), which translated means "listening to incense". The word “listening” has the connotation of hearing and perceiving subtle changes by sharpening one's physical senses. It means to calm the mind, to meditate, to think, and to enjoy the scent. Although we live in as speed-seeking society that demands as much information as possible visually, I would like to eliminates the need for visuals and sharpens the nerves in the auditory and olfactory senses by representing the images of scent etched in my respective memories with music. Scent and music could be the evidence of the place.  

Then I thought it would be very interesting to combine this scent experience and my own project Music Pairing together. I will develop the narratives what kind of musical experiences can be had with taste, smell and hearing by collaborating with perfumers, chefs and  musicians through the process.

Ayo Yoshida

A contemporary music composer

Aya Yoshida is a Japanese composer. Born in Kobe, Japan in 1992. She graduated from Toho Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo and completed her postgraduate studies in composition at The Royal Danish Academy of Music. Her works have been commissioned and performed all over the world by diverse range of soloists, ensembles and orchestras, including the performances by Curious Chamber Players in Viitasaari, Finland (2013), by Arditti Quartet (2014) and by Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra (2016) in Copenhagen, Denmark. Moreover she had her  first opera “Skyggen (The Shadow)” in Copenhagen in 2017 to celebrate the 150th anniversary for the diplomatic friendship between Japan and Denmark following with the official event of the Japanese Embassy in Denmark and the Danish Ministry of Culture. The opera was awarded by Danish Arts Foundation as The best 10 music publishing/releasing of the year. Furthermore she was selected to participate in many Artist in Residencies, such as the one at the Visby International Centre for Composers (Gotland, Sweden), the one organized by Austrian Federal Chancellery and Kultur Kontakt Austria (Vienna, Austria), the one by USF Bergen (Bergen, Norway) and the one by the providential government of Styria (Graz, Austria). She won the first prize of Zemlinsky 2019 Composition Competition and she had her first ballet piece “Let Me Take You There” premiered by CCM Philharmonia and dancers in Cincinnati, USA in 2021. Also she has been a Composer in Residence in Tivoli Youth Guard in Denmark since 2020 to write for their repertories including 175 years anniversary waltz.

She is often inspired by fashion her works’ titles are often coming from fashion terms, for example, Polka dots, Tone on Tone Check, and Pointed toe. Fashion, its abstract energy triggers her creativity and transforms it into new images within her personal universe.

She was just selected to one of the 5 nominees for Gaudeamus Award 2023.


Estimated costs

Composition fee: 2000-5000 (depends on amount of pieces making), Recording the sound (including mixing, mastering later): 3000, Potentially filming; 3000-5000, Hiring musicians: 2000-5000 (depends on the of musicians), Collaborating with chefs: 3000, Publishing the score of music/leaflet (maybe collaborating with graphic designer) and others: 2000-3000. The budget could be squeezed to do the minimal style.


This proposal is part of the 'Penny for your Thoughts' project 2022.