Researchers In Switzerland Are Playing Led Zeppelin To Cheese

Published November 5, 2018
Updated August 15, 2019

They're also playing A Tribe Called Quest, techno music, and Mozart in an effort to determine whether sound waves can have an effect on the taste profile of cheese.


TwitterBeat Wampfler with his cheese as it is serenaded.

Cheese lovers are certainly one of the most passionate types of food enthusiasts. The worship of cheese in all its forms has inspired festivals, niche restaurants, and not just one, but two unofficial annual national holidays.

But one cheese enthusiast in Switzerland has taken his passion to a new level. Beat Wampfler of Burgdorf, Switzerland has been playing music from the likes of Led Zeppelin to his cheese to see if this will make it taste better.

Emmental Cheese

Wikimedia CommonsEmmental cheese, the subject of the experiment.

Much like mothers play music to their unborn babies from outside the womb, Wampfler has been conducting experiments with different music to see whether it may impact his cheese’s development.

Wampfler began this experiment in Sept. 2018. He justifies his reasoning this way:

“Bacteria is responsible for the formation of the taste of cheese, with the enzymes that influence its maturity. I am convinced that humidity, temperature or nutrients are not the only things that influence taste. Sounds, ultrasounds or music can also have physical effects.”

As outlandish as playing Led Zeppelin to wheels of Emmental may sound, there is actually a scientific field that’s devoted to the study of the effects of sound waves on liquid solutions — like developing cheese — known as sonochemistry. Indeed, students and faculty from the University of the Arts in Bern agree, as they have joined Wampfler in conducting this study.

“At first we were skeptical,” said Michael Harenberg, the university’s music director. “Then we discovered there is a field called sonochemistry that looks at the influences of sound waves, the effect of sound on solid bodies.”

Harenberg continues that the focus of the study is to answer two questions: “In the end, is there anything measurable? Or something that has an effect on the taste?” In other words, can music actually change the way a cheese tastes?

Sonochemistry Figure

Koç UniversitySonochemistry figure demonstrating the effects of sound waves on a physical substance.

Sound waves, or ultrasound, might have the potential to compress and expand liquids during a chemical reaction. This is because sound, an invisible wave, can flow through a solid solution like cheese and create bubbles. These bubbles then could change the chemical makeup of the cheese as they expand, collide, or collapse.

The particular cheese that Wampfler has been working with is Emmental, a cheese filled with holes and bubbles like Swiss, which is also one of the more popular cheeses in Switzerland. Each wheel sits perfectly rounded atop a speaker as it matures. They are also only played one genre of music at a time.

Wampfler has played all different types of music genres to his cheese — everything from A Tribe Called Quest, to techno, to Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.”

A panel of expert cheese tasters is slated to sample the different cheeses on March 14, 2019, and determine which one is best.

As for Wampfler, he’s hoping that one particular batch of Emmental will place above all the rest: “I hope that the hip-hop cheese will be the best.”

And for the future of cheese? Well, should this experiment prove correct, we may be choosing our cheddars based on their musical tastes.

Next, check out this story about archeologists discovering the world’s oldest cheese from Ancient Egypt. Then, learn about what sound looks like if it were visible to us. Finally, experience more weird news stories that’ll leave you astounded.

Bernadette Deron
Bernadette is a digital media producer, writer, and a proud native New Yorker.