Sensory Accumulator
Producer Bompas & Parr / Client Thorntons

Bompas & Parr say:

The recently opened Thornton’s store in Westfield Stratford was home to a bespoke ‘Sensory Accumulator’ created by Bompas & Parr. The pod took chocolate fans on a taste journey, heightening the senses in order to create the perfect chocolate eating experience. Visitors went through a brief taste profiling to match them to their perfect balance of flavours including salty, sweet and bitter. They then enjoyed their chocolate inside the Taste Pod, providing an immersive audio-visual tasting experience.

My role as sound designer and composer was to create a track that threw the listeners auditory senses around for various stages of the experience:

watch it here:

The piece begins as a constant sub bass drone at around 30Hz, towards the lower frequency limit of human hearing. A few nodes (resonances) of this fundamental frequency begin to poke through and we are reminded of melted chocolate as these frequencies create a texture evoking thick, luxurious and dark liquid.

I now perform a simple aural calibration with pink and white noise of varying loudnesses, on the left and then the right ear. I also introduce a metronome at 2 beats per second to establish the link between the ear and time perception. The sonic cleanse and calibration is the aural equivalent of the swinging flashlight test for pupillary response. In this case, we are flexing the tympanic membrane which governs hearing sensitivity.

The soundscape now grows as we turn towards creating music to heighten the sweetness of our chocolate. Recent research has shown that high, slow melodies and phrases on strings instruments can enhance the perception of sweetness in food[1]. As well as these cross modal techniques, on a cultural level I have included the vibraphone and mark tree flourishes as they evokes the fun and fantasy of chocolate. Towards the end of the soundscape we are bombarded with busy, intricate music that grows and grows. Our hearing is overloaded with the full spectrum of frequencies, textures, dynamics and percussive grooves.

The bottom falls out of the soundscape leaving our eyes to be drawn and focused to the chocolate serving.

[1] The perfect meal: The multisensory science of food and dining – Charles Spence, Betina Piqueras-Fiszman