Music to Chew On
for 12 Singers, Lead Chewer, and Audience

Music to Chew On is a musical experiment in mindful eating for 12 singers, lead chewer, and audience. I append the words "and audience" because the audience plays the crucial role of actually doing the chewing. Seven simple foods (bread, grape, celery, peanut butter, raisin, pecan and rice) are eaten slowly and mindfully over the course of a 10-minute piece, with a "lead chewer" sitting in front, showing by demonstration which foods are to be eaten when. The musical accompaniment by the choir is intended to enhance the process of eating, and the process of eating is intended to enhance the experience of listening.

One of the interesting aspects of this work was the challenge of creating a score that captured the kinds of sounds and textures that I invisioned. Ultimately, the method of notation for each food was unique, often related to the process of eating that food. For instance, the bread movement consists of a unified choir that gradually breaks up into smaller and smaller groups, just as bread breaks apart in the mouth as it is chewed; this repeated splitting of the choir is the basis of the notation for this movement:

Excerpt from Bread Score
Excerpt from the score of the bread movement.

I also had fun creating a setup for the ideal performance:

Score Setup Page
Diagram from the score showing the ideal setup.

If you're interested in checking out the full score, here it is:


Music to Chew On was first performed on the CCRMA Stage at Stanford University on February 27th, 2011. The following is a video documentation of that performance, with footage of the lead chewer, the choir, and the audience.

For those adventurous souls that would like to experience the full synaesthetic experience of Music to Chew On piece, the following "Chew-a-Long" version focuses on the lead chewer only and contains instructions on how to prepare your plate:


Many thanks to Susan Rebellon (Lead Chewer), and the wonderful choir: Adrien Wagner, Arunima Kohli, Anna Doty, Eric Tran, Genevieve Andreas, Jesse Rodin, Kacey Marton, Linden Melvin, Lydia Zodda, Madhuri Yechuri, Susan Lape, and Theodore Lim.

Thanks also to my teacher, Jaroslaw Kapuscinski for his encouragement and guidance as I worked on this project.