The Session: Tonal Progressions & Pairings

The Session: Tonal Progressions & Pairings

In the opening of Aaron Copeland’s “Appalachian Spring,” there’s a wonderful set of “call and response” chords that progress in intensity and are so refreshing, repeated in variations throughout the suite. The music was a score for a ballet by Martha Graham and I think of pairing beer and food as live performance, subtly influenced by mood and environment.

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The right music will lift my mood and make me enjoy my environment – even when I’m stuck behind the desk. I listen to jazz and classical music when I write, and rock and roll when I cook. My bakeware is stored in the basement to make room for stereo speakers in the kitchen. Something about the clatter of pans and smoke from searing meats matches best with the English Beat or the Decemberists. But when I’m thinking about pairings, I think about flavor progressions that build in tonal intensity, the “call and response” of malt to caramel, of citrus to hops, of apple or banana yeast esters to warming spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg.

Music supports a creative response and so I often listen while I cook, write and taste. The right mix of music will add so much enjoyment to dining – or become an irritant, as in canned restaurant music that repeats over and over, becoming stale and flat to the ears. It’s one of the key elements to consider in rating a pub, tavern or restaurant – because music will make a mood. And mood influences flavor perceptions, so does good music = good taste = good beer?

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