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Studying Switzerland The German researcher who rocked Swiss cheese

When German music and media scientist Michael Harenberg came to Switzerland for his research, he never imagined he would find himself trying to find out whether the most iconic of Swiss symbols – cheese – can be improved with music.

This article is part of a series about researchers from around the world who study things unique to Switzerland. Know someone we should profile? Tell us by sending us an e-mail at


After taking an early interest in music of all kinds and studying musicology and composition in Germany, Harenberg made the move to Switzerland in the early 2000s. He is now a professor at Bern’s University of the Arts (HKB). The university started a project called “HKB goes ashore”, meant to connect researchers and students with people and projects in more rural parts of canton Bern. It’s through that project that Harenberg met cheesemaker Beat Wampfler, who suggested a joint project wherein researchers try playing tunes to cheese to see how it impacts its flavor.

The results of the study came out earlier this year. Harenberg and his colleagues found through blind taste tests that hip-hop music makes cheese of the Emmentaler variety taste the best.  

Hamberg was overwhelmed by the media’s interest in the story, both in areas with cheesemaking cultures and elsewhere around the world.

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