Eat What You Hear: Gustasonic Discourses and the Material Culture of Commercial Sound Recording

Document Type


Publication Title

Journal of Material Culture

Publication Date



School of Communication


This article analyzes discursive linkages between acts of listening and eating within a combined multisensory regime that the authors label the gustasonic. Including both marketing discourses mobilized by the commercial music industry and representations of record consumption in popular media texts, gustasonic discourses have shaped forms and experiences of recorded sound culture from the gramophone era to the present. The authors examine three prominent modalities of gustasonic discourse: (1) discourses that position records as edible objects for physical ingestion; (2) discourses that preserve linkages between listening and eating but incorporate musical recordings into the packaging of other foodstuffs; and (3) discourses of gustasonic distinction that position the listener as someone with discriminating taste. While the gustasonic on one hand serves as an aid to consumerism, it can also cultivate a countervailing collecting impulse that resists music’s commodity status and inscribes sound recording within alternative systems of culture value.