What’s common between Cooking and Making Music?
For the layman, the answer to the above question will be, “Nothing.” If you ask me or someone just like me, I will say: yes there are a few things common.
I discovered this during the learning process of how to make music from some YouTube channels. It was a slow process for me to realise the commonalities but the core aspects remain the same: you need the right ingredients and to get the best out of your right ingredients, cooking it properly is what makes the food taste great. Since I am a foodie as well, drawing similarities between the two were easy.
Let me explain.
The cooking in general:
You must have seen chefs cooking online or on TV. Observe how they cook – carefully measuring the ingredients like spices, onions, chicken – whether they should be diced, bone or boneless, etc.
You get the idea of how certain recipes require specific ingredients to cook. It is so obvious that you will use milk for making milkshake! Similarly, you may or may not use coconut for making curry. Yes, for the uninitiated, curries can be made with or without grated coconut.
When it comes to making curries, there is no fixed format. Here in India – the curry capital of the world – you can prepare vegetarian and non-vegetarian types. Up north the use of coconut in curries reduces whereas down south, freshly grated coconut is used often.
Same can be said for rice preparations. From the simple steamed rice which is also a staple, several variations of rice dishes are made. It ranges from Pulao, Khichdi, Tomato Rice, Coconut Rice – yes it exists! In Maharashtra – the state where I live, the locals are known as Maharashtrians prepare something called Masala Bhaath or Masala Rice.
Coming close to the point:
Cooking is an art. Two cooks can cook the same meal but the taste is sure to differ. Try it if you don’t believe me.
However, I also do believe that if one does not know what it is then it should not be misled giving it another name. For example, during my honeymoon down south of India, I wanted to have a typical Keralite speciality called Chicken Chettinad. Authentic Chicken Chettinad is a rarity where I live. When I ordered it here in a restaurant I was aghast to find Mangalorean Chicken Curry disguised as Chicken Chettinad!
Mangalorean Chicken Curry is made using Coconut Milk as the base, it is non-spicy and tasty. Chicken Chettinad, however, does not make use of it, it is spicy and has an amazing aroma!
Coming to the point of Music:
Let me now relate it to music, the ingredients in music are the musical instruments, the music or song your create become the recipe. The final product is the piece that you have created.
Take an EDM as an example: you have synths, pads, strings, plucks and drums. You combine all of this with some automation and filters like high pass, gain staging, etc. The final piece is the song much similar to the food you cook.
The difference lies in how it is consumed. Food uses the nose and the mouth whereas music uses the ears.
I am harsh when I say – just because you can cook does not make you a chef, just because you can write does not make you a writer or a blogger and most importantly – just because I can make music does not make me a music producer yet. But I am well on my way and trust and believe in my abilities to create good electronic music.
The point I am trying to make:
Both cooking and music-making or producing is art. The ingredients in creating the right music are the musical arrangements, “the cooking” is when all the instruments play together and when all of the music is combined performing synchronously then it creates a harmony that sounds good to the ears.
Just like some people do not like a certain type of food, so is the case with music. There are different food types like continental, oriental, authentic, fusion, traditional, Mediterranean, etc.
The types in music are called genre and perhaps it outnumbers the current food types listed above.
Electronic music has such a vast type and sub-genres that it is hard to pin-point a particular favourite genre or sub-genre to create music.
For instance, Enigma plays chill-out, trance, worldbeat, downtempo, ambient, etc.
When making music for beginners, the genre or sub-genre is not that precise nor clear. Since I am not a professionally trained music producer nor have I taken any certificate courses, at the back of my head, I simply want to make it sound good. I will worry about the genre later.
It is just like a chef or a guy or girl who is learning to cook food. Although it may not taste just as you expected the first time does not make you a bad cook. The guy or girl attempting to cook needs more experience which will gradually build his or her confidence.
Same with music. Although cooking can be done at any time, creating the best dish needs the right mood and intentions.
When making music, your mind needs to be at that moment. That’s what I have realised. I have also noticed that mastering is a different aspect of music-making that make it sound better. It is an art form that is unique from person to person.
Mastering is similar to the garnishing or topping used in food. For a dish like pizzas – the right topping can make or break the dish.
For instance, during a dinner with my colleagues, one of them ordered a veg cheese pizza. I was flabbergasted to find brown kidney beans or rajma in a vegetarian pizza! It tasted horrible!
Even my friends were shocked! I began to sift through the pizza to remove all of them.
No one has the right to insult pizza by adding beans of any kind!
When it comes to music, using the right plugin, filter or instrument is crucial. This is true when creating music specific to that genre! Using any classical instruments like pianos in trance music will not make it sound like an EDM track but sound more like a progressive house or progressive electronic sub-genre. There is a very thin line that separates adding certain music instruments to make it sound experimental.
It is not so that it cannot be done. It has to be done right otherwise it will sound very off track. Some may like it some may not. Just like Bitter Gourd or Karela vegetable which is typically bitter cannot accommodate the pallets of some people. If it is suddenly introduced to one’s taste when they are not accustomed to then they are certain to not have it.
Music, unlike food, does not require an acquired taste. The first time you hear it will itself decide whether you like it.
Well, these are my thoughts!