How Music Affects The Dining Experience


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It’s common experience; you go out to eat with your significant other, family, or friends at a trendy restaurant like Terrace Restaurant and Lounge, and as soon as you enter the building, you hear music filling the dining room and lobby. Today, mealtime musical accompaniment has become so expected, in fact, that we would probably be a bit leery of any eatery that failed to provide some sort of aural entertainment. The prevalence of music, either via speakers and a playlist or a live musician, begs the question: how does listening to music affect our dining experience?

To find the answer to this question, we scoured the internet for clues about how music can affect our mood and behavior while eating. Here’s what we found:

People Eat On Beat

Just as listing to fast music while exercising tends to make people run faster, studies have shown that uptempo tunes actually make diners eat faster. Many restaurateurs have employed this research to help increase or decrease turnover rates as needed, playing songs with fast tempos during busy lunch rushes to expedite the dining experience and selecting more relaxing songs when the restaurant has plenty of open tables.

Music Alters The Perception Of Time

They say “time flies when you’re having fun,” and studies have shown that playing classical or jazz music while doing an activity (like eating) can help people lose track of time in the most positive way. Playing recognizable songs, on the other hand, actually helps people gauge how long they’ve been sitting in one spot and can contribute to a feeling of uneasiness if they perceive that too much time has been spent on dinner.

Music Influences Behavior

Study after study has confirmed that music has a tangible impact on the behavior of listeners, and this is evident to most restaurateurs almost immediately. Loud, upbeat music tends to encourage loud conversation and increased drinking, while quiet, relaxing music inspires polite conversation and creates a more romantic or professional vibe.

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Music Changes How Food Tastes

A relatively new field of study posits that, in addition to influencing pace, perception, and behavior, can actually affect how food tastes. Research has indicated that sound and frequency play a big role in how our brain perceives taste: high frequencies (pitches) enhance sweetness, for example, while low frequencies increase bitterness, and loud background noises (including too-loud house music) has the tendency to decrease the overall enjoyment of food.