Building on existing research into sound symbolism and crossmodal correspondences, this article proposes that crossmodal correspondences—systematic mappings between different sensory modalities—can be used to communicate non-musical, low-level sensory properties such as basic tastes through music. A series of three experiments demonstrates that crossmodal correspondences enable people to systematically encode basic taste properties into parameters in musical space (Experiment 1), and that they are able to correctly decode basic taste information embedded in complex musical compositions (Experiments 2 and 3). The results also suggest some culture-specificity to these mappings, given that decoding performance, while still above chance levels, was lower in Indian participants than in those from the United States (Experiment 3). Implications and potential applications of these findings are discussed.
Knöferle, Klemens M. et al. 2015. “That sounds sweet: using cross-modal correspondences to communicate gustatory attributes.” Psychology and Marketing, 32(1):107-120