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I’ve wanted to write about this for a VERY long time. Up to now, it’s still in the ‘Books I’ll Never Write’ category, but I’m going to try to kick things in the right direction by blogging about a few of the ideas and subjects.

For more than 10 years, I took course after course (some better than others – separate topic) related to wine, spirits and even beer.  The sniffing, the quaffing, the spitting.  The notes.  The pages and pages of notes that come with each glass of wine beyond ‘yup, tastes nice’ or ‘what piss is this?’

The endless parade of adjectives: earthy, fruity, dry, sweet, yellow, funky, mushroom, barnyard, etc etc etc. It got absurd.

Through all of this, I’ve remained a steadfast lover of music.

One day, I’m not sure when, the paths crossed.  I think the original kernel of inspiration came when I sponsored some Orchestra London events and did a couple of speeches about the relationship of music to wine.  Many studies have been done showing that your enjoyment of wine changes with the genre of music you’re listening to.

It’s a modest extension of a concept in the wine world known as ‘terroir’.  Depending on who you talk with, it can be a civil chat or manic argument.  It’s rarely something in between.

The basic idea of terroir is that important regulations concerning the growing, making and preparation of different wines around the world; the people that grow the vines and manage the winery; the stones or soil everything is grown in; the chemical treatments (if allowed) and even the air in the vineyard contribute to ‘terroir’ or a ‘sense of place’.

Of course, many people think it’s bunk.

I’m a romantic, so I’m a believer in terroir.  I believe that on a micro level, there are things that we do differently that affect the final taste, style or delivery of a product.  And not just wine!  Cheese, meat and all kinds of other things can be influenced by where they’re grown and who grows them.

It’s in this context that I developed a unique concept:  the ‘terroir of music‘.

Defining The Terroir of Music (TOM)

This concept is so big and seemingly so unique that I honestly didn’t know where to start. This indecision and lack of precision lead to a type of paralysis where I never started this project.

Well, today’s the day I start this project.

With a definition, stealing a page from the wine world:

Noun: the complete natural (and regulatory and mechanical) environment in which a particular song, musical piece or performer / band is produced, including factors such as historical and cultural influences, population, geographical location, language, protectionism, economic factors and funding. Some socio-economic factors are very important in influencing the Terroir of Music. Example: being an orphan.

The characteristic style, sound and influence imparted to music by the factors in which it is produced.

So … as you can see, I kept the topic as broad as possible.  Mean parents?  It influences the Terroir of Music or TOM.  Demographics?  Yup.  Employment rates?  Sure.  Number of art schools in the area?  Absolutely.

This has ‘PhD Thesis’ written all over it, so it’s unlikely that I’ll have something concrete to say with this introduction, but stay tuned as I explore the topic and share some ideas about how TOM has evolved and may continue to evolve over the years to come.