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Playing Your Part. Wednesday May 4, 2016

I am privileged to be part of an interesting musical project. Music inspired by chocolate! How great is that?

Let me explain. A while ago I met up with Cheryl Brighty who owns a chocolate shop. She makes the most wonderful chocolates and has awards to prove it. It was a Christmas Fayre and she had dark chocolate with frankincense and gold leaf. Well – who could resist trying that? An utterly amazing taste sensation.

I have synaesthesia so for me this chocolate had deep cello notes, a wild violin line on top and chromatic xylophone scales around the sides (I taste in sound and hear in colour: it all makes sense to me even if it sounds weird to you). Cheryl was fascinated and said her daughter Emily, who was studying music, would be interested too.

So a few months later I found myself with a box of chocolates and instructions to write down the sounds they made as I tasted them. Emily then wrote the music, arranged an orchestra of assorted volunteers and last Saturday we met up in All Saints Church, Newmarket to rehearse and record the piece.

It was awe inspiring for me to hear how Emily had translated my thoughts into real music. And amazing to hear how close it was to what I had "heard".

But this blog isn't about that.

You see, each of we musicians and singers had received only our own parts. None of us (other than Emily) had the full score. None of us knew what the whole piece would sound like, or even what the piece we were playing in would sound like. Some of the chocolates needed only the string section; some percussion; others woodwind; some needed trumpets and horns. The piano was only needed for two chocolates and the singers for three.

It was not until we were all together with Emily conducting us, bringing us in at the right time, that we could begin to hear how everything went together. I could then clearly hear the timpani of the Madagascan white chocolate. I could hear the cranberry and popping candy and the intense bitterness of the 100% dark chocolate with cocoa nibs.

But we could only hear a little at a time as each piece was recorded in isolation. We won't hear the full piece until we receive the CD.

It occurred to me that life is like that. We have only our part to play. We must play it as well as we can and trust that the composer and conductor knows how it all goes. Occasionally we hear how everything comes together; sometimes we play our line, pack up our instrument and go home: we never hear the finished piece.

If we try to play a part other than our own, we will spoil the composer's piece. Just one more reason to be ourselves as well as we possibly can. Our little triangle may be the popping candy that absolutely makes the music really sing.

Oh – and if you'd like to find out more about the project, or indeed the chocolate – here is the link:

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Zareen Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 7:17am

Thanks Mary. I loved reading about your musical chocolate project & the underlining ideas of playing your part to make a whole.

Hopeful One Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 8:17am

Hi Mary- how extraordinary!I looked up synaesthesia which my dictionary defines as 'a sensation produced at a point different from the point of stimulation: a sensation of another kind suggested by one experienced e g colour-hearing'. I imagine fellow Moodscopers already knew that but I didn't. So thanks for expanding my vocabulary by one word! You are quite right . I think Oscar Wilde put it nicely' Be yourself,everybody else is taken'

The laugh yesterday seemed to be well received. I often wonder how many Moodscopers read it and more importantly do they have a laugh- the whole point of the exercise. I would love to know!

A tough old sheep farmer from Scotland gave some advice to his granddaughter. He told her that the secret to a long life was to sprinkle a pinch of gunpowder onto her porridge every morning. The granddaughter followed this advice religiously until her death at the venerable age of 103.
She left behind 14 children, 30 grandchildren, 45 great grandchildren, 25 great great grandchildren and a forty foot hole where the crematorium used to be.

Mary Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 8:29am

I think that's my favourite one so far HO! Thank you. I can see that being read by the late and great (although not in stature) Ronnie Corbett.

Lou Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 9:13am

Brilliant!! Love this one HO! :) (I read your jokes most days - please do carry on!) Lou

danielle Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 10:50am

I love the jokes HO - always give me a chuckle!

Skyblue Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 12:03pm

I always look forward to your jokes, HO, and have had great mileage from some of them. The funniest stay with me, ready for use. This one is right up there with the best. Thanks again. xx

Maria Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 6:48pm

I love your jokes HO and have shared them as well. Lately I find myself scrolling through the comments to your name so I can start my day off with a grin...gets the whole day rolling right. Thank you and please do continue :)

Lex Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 8:50am

The Kandinsky of Kandy, I salute you! Synaesthetic, eh? I learn more all the time! Each to their own flow so that the show must go on! Brilliant.

Mary Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 11:03am

And I had to look up Kadinsky! I love the fact we continue to educate and edify each other in this community.

Lou Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 9:17am

What a brilliant post! Thanks so much for sharing Mary! As a psychology grad, an occasional reader of New Scientist and a fan of Oliver Sacks’ writings I am aware of synaesthesia but have never heard such an amazing description from anyone who has it. Really enjoyed your post today and love the idea that we all play our own part and no one else’s. Thanks again for sharing. I’m off to follow your link and read more about the music now...!

Mary Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 11:00am

Hi Lou, you might also enjoy The Man Who Tasted Shapes by Richard Cytowic, a study of Synaesthesia. It certainly helped me understand my "condition" more deeply. Here's the link.

Lou Thu, May 5th 2016 @ 8:11am

Always love a book recommendation, thanks Mary :)

Still picking figs Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 9:41am

Oh Mary, your post is magnificent

I have a totally different perspective on my spring morning. I want to attune to it differently, thanks for giving me the inspiration.
For a short moment I heard soft lime greens and magenta pinks gliding in to the living room. Aah, it was inspiring. My marmite on white toast, however, tasted like a Midland Mainline train, horn blaring, as it tore through industrial wasteland.
I had to spit it out!

Love, love, love the sound of your musical collaboration and will follow the link. The music I walked down the aisle to was lifted off the soundtrack from Punch Drunk Love, a film which introduced me to existence of synaesthesia.

Thank you for sharing the gift of your experience of the world.
What does a chunk of Cadbury's sound like I wonder?

Mary Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 10:56am

Oh SPF - what a wonderful description of Marmite on toast! Your comment raises three points for me. The first, which, until this project I had not considered, is that some flavours which taste good may not sound good. An instance of this was the white coffee truffle. It was an absolutely wonderful chocolate (I happen to like coffee) but the music was reminiscent of the Theme from Jaws and also Moussorsky's Night on Bare Mountain (the original with vocal score) so in fact very scary! Listening to it rather spoiled the chocolate for me, just as your marmite was spoiled for you. The second point is that, as soon as you started listening - you found you could experience with more than one sense. I am utterly convinced that far more people have synaesthesia than is thought; they just don't realise it, have damped it down, or - like me - assume that everyone experiences the world in the same way they do, so never bother mentioning it.The third point is Cadburys milk chocolate. The drone of bagpipes without the skirl on top. A lackadaisical viola line and some kind of arhythmic and vague percussion - all rather messy without a clear structure. As an addendum to this, someone asked on Saturday whether one could "hear" sounds to which one had never been exposed. I think so, in that sometimes I have to translate the sound to the nearest instrument - but I know it's not quite right.

Still picking figs Thu, May 5th 2016 @ 9:32am

Mary, thank you for your response which I was pleased to come across this morning. I visited the link to the chocolate shop yesterday. As well as imagining how honey, and lavender truffles would sound, I was inspired by that young woman. She seems to be adundant in the four quotients L talks about today in his post on senescence. I've bookmarked the page for future sound and colour celebrations. You have a wonderful gift, Mary and I think you are on to something wondering if many more of us are blessed with synaesthesia. It almost seems like a shamanic quality and I wonder if its true purpose has been stifled by modern life and, to go back to the senescence post, IQ dominance. Anyway, I waffle. Much love to you, Figs xx

Richard Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 9:54am

Thankyou, Mary. Your writing describes synaesthesia so clearly. Have a wonderful day.
Peace & Love,

Mary Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 11:04am

You too, Richard. Thank you for taking the time to comment. It is much appreciated.

danielle Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 10:49am

wow Mary what an unusual talent you have. I have never heard of that condition but it sounds extraordinary! And I love the collaboration with Emily. The brain is such a sophisticated machine. xxx

Skyblue Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 11:54am

Wonderfully interesting and exciting post, Mary, and I love how you tie it all together with wise words about life in general. If you taste in sound and hear in colour, then presumably you ultimately taste in colour, too... or is that a separate process? Have you ever fallen in love with a person's voice because the colours are so beautiful? Do you find yourself having favourite colours or do you love them all? I suspect, like you, that many people--especially true aesthetes-- have varying degrees of synaesthesia as part of the artistic package, but your gift is obviously great. Thank you for explaining it so well. Your description of Cadbury's chocolate cracks me up and sounds completely accurate. xx

Mary Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 12:12pm

Yes - I am always amazed at how popular Cadburys chocolate is! I don't really taste in colour - that's far more hearing. But I do smell in texture and colour: for instance the smell of strawberries is a scatter of diamonds on brown velvet - not red at all! Touch seems to be on its own, unaffected by anything else. But, when I am working with colour on a client, I can "hear" the right colours singing on her. But that's pretty limited, so I don't think it really works two ways there, whereas taste and sound do. And yes - I fell in love with someone's voice on Saturday actually - a violinist: his voice is the softest suede, falling in smoky grey folds from his lips. (It didn't hurt that he was tall, dark and good looking too - if about 25 years my junior... sad, resigned and self-deprecating face there!)

Skyblue Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 1:20pm

Diamonds on brown velvet, suede falling in smoky grey folds....I would always be SO distracted! I find it intriguing that touch stands alone.

Lexi Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 2:29pm

Mary, you are such a fascinating woman. Seriously. Your posts make me smile and think.

Mary Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 8:37pm

Um - thank you. Very much.

Maria Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 6:58pm

Mary, you're inspiring to me! I DON'T comment very often but I DO enjoy and appreciate your blogs and comments immensely. So expressive and thought provoking. Thanks for taking me on some magical rides :) Today was especially helpful.

Mary Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 8:37pm

Just so pleased you enjoy them. I nearly always enjoy writing them.

The Gardener Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 8:15pm

Just looked up sybaeushesia - definitely new to me, but not to the Greeks. Tried to think of a likeness - a baker here used to make a concoction of dark chocolate and rum, called 'ganache'. The richness and depth of taste and colour must have related to Beethoven's choral. Best 'spontaneous' exercise was on a writing cours at a weird commune - convenor excellent - top journalist. We were sitting in the library - and he's say '15 minutes on the view from the East window' or 'what does that picture say to your'. The results showed mazing 'psyches'.

The Gardener Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 8:15pm

Just looked up sybaeushesia - definitely new to me, but not to the Greeks. Tried to think of a likeness - a baker here used to make a concoction of dark chocolate and rum, called 'ganache'. The richness and depth of taste and colour must have related to Beethoven's choral. Best 'spontaneous' exercise was on a writing cours at a weird commune - convenor excellent - top journalist. We were sitting in the library - and he's say '15 minutes on the view from the East window' or 'what does that picture say to your'. The results showed mazing 'psyches'.

Mary Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 8:41pm

Listening to Beethoven's 9th - the finale right now and yes _ I can taste that ganache with dark chocolate and rum - it's in the bass notes of the choir and the fullness of the sound, isn't it? Thank you for that. And I always loved exercises like 200 words on the inside of a ping-pong ball or somesuch.

The Gardener Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 8:22pm

My 'fusing' of the senses is when listening to music at some important part of life, or a journey - and the music is part of the event. Mentioned before, I rhins - drivina across an empty Brittany, sunny december day, roof open, Kathleen Ferrier 'Blow the wind southerly; incredibly evocative sound and scenery together. Mozart's requiem in depths of despair - think of his horrendous life and brilliant talent. Been out for a 'treat' challenging and difficult - but SO many people came up and talked to me - need to bring some of that warmth home - where life is grimmer than ever, despite sun

Mary Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 8:44pm

Gardener - you are living through the most gruelling and challenging time, yet you are loved and appreciated by so many around you. In your physical community in France and also here - because you are so generous with yourself and your memories - and what fantastic memories you have. I know I keep saying this, but you are an inspiration. I hate that you are going through all this, but rejoice that it drives you here. Just - thank you for being here and commenting.

Leah Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 10:45pm

Gardener, I was going to write a comment then I saw Mary's reply where she expressed so acuurately what I feel and what I wanted to say. You add so much to moodscope with your honesty and wisdom. You are also the voice for many who read your words. I hope you find music to help you with the grim reality of your present life. Thanks so much for being vulnerable and hanging in there. As I wrote before I always look for your comments each day because there is always some inspirational gem. PS I love ganache.

Leah Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 10:46pm

Mary, You took the words out of my keyboard. Thank you for expressing what so many of us feel about Gardener.

Salt Water Mum Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 10:53pm

I am just about to stop working now and it's been a tough few weeks where I feel I've been pulled in every direction but then I peek into Moodscope and there is your blog Mary, and it's so full of vitality and joy and two of my very favourite things - chocolate and music !

My taste buds are zinging, I'm off to raid the kids' goody jar now.
Pity I ate that yummy bar of dark salted chocolate last night.
Still there's always that buttons easter egg that never got eaten... needs must and all that !!

Night everyone,


Salt Water Mum Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 10:56pm

Ps The Gardener, 'a writing course at a weird commune' - I hope that's a To Be Continued story - I want to hear more ...

Eva Wed, May 4th 2016 @ 11:29pm

Wonderful amazing chocolate cherry coloured blog! And whilst I still have time... May the 4th be with you!

the room above the garage Thu, May 5th 2016 @ 6:06am

Fascinating! Spicy curries must be fun!!! :-D xx

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