scent . music . culture

  • 26th August
  • 26


I would like to share the gift of scent and sound with you!

Music has been a big part of my life, I used to love the thrill of being on stage, of singing my heart out and of writing songs.

Now another dream has become number one. That’s not a bad thing, clearly! But I can’t let go of what I have loved before, so I’ve decided to merge the two. Without taking any value away from either, I want to use our sense of smell and our love for most things musical to create a wonderful, harmonious marriage. (My scent/music collection will one day become a reality, I promise you that)

The term ‘Smound’ was coined by Daniel Wesson along with his colleague Donald Wilson. They found that after tracing the activity of tubercles of mice, especially when subjected to both odour and tone, there were stronger responses. (this is me making it sound MUCH simpler than it is, sorry science!)

Either way, the experiment was inspired by the concept of synesthesia, which I think many people can relate to. Have you ever felt something tingle with your other senses when you’re experiencing something visually? I guess that’s what they mean when the ‘colour’ of an aura is described for example. That’s how I associate some smells; with sounds. 

Furthermore, the person who came up with the entire concept of merging scent and sound in the brain was the great Septimus Piesse. He was responsible for the highly informative The Art of Perfumery. He identified odor molecules as having a particular note associated with them.

Here is an article that discusses his theory further:

As a result of his findings, the perfume industry started describing scent on the basis of the music scale, ie. notes. In what he described as an odophone, he compared sharp, attention grabbing scents with higher pitched notes and heavy scents with lower notes (think dark, heavy bass.)


I had been thinking of linking music and scent together since before going to France actually. Upon reading his ideas while I was there, I knew I could do something that worked within that concept. Scent, as we know, is really difficult to write about (kudos to those who can!), it is, as Diane Ackerman describes it; ‘the mute sense, the one without words.’ (her book is always a point of reference for me, read it!)

Since it is so difficult to describe in most ways, perfumers have found that creativity, intuition and imagination is key. Creating a perfume musically somehow, some way is such an inspiring idea. 

Just think about it! Imagine trying to recreate the sound of Sade’s voice (sandalwood, a drop of methyl iso eugenol and a hint of rose: smooth, dusty, intoxicating) or even the sound of talking shakers (I just bought a couple and I’m obsessed) black pepper! ionones! cardamom! limmeeee! maybe some incense too!?

It’s all about what you do with what you have I guess. Making perfume is like jenga. Some parts can be taken out, some can’t (just like in a composition, song, beat, whatever!) But it’s all in the wrist, and the ability to see and feel what is essential and what isn’t. 

I say embrace music, embrace scents, embrace life, by mixing and matching and learning and getting it all out there. You’re good to go!

p.s. methyl iso eugenol in a synthetic aroma chemical in the spicy family that smells like old books! It needs to be used in moderation, but when it is used right, it’s smells rich, dusty, slightly cold and full of history!

  1. heymisscici reblogged this from thescentinel and added:
    Currently working on my top secret scent project; came across this— Interesting!
  2. noseknows reblogged this from thescentinel
  3. larashka said: Your voice comes across so strong and beautiful in this Dana. I so admire your dream and your passion for what you do. I am so lucky to have such a source of inspiration in my life. I love you.
  4. thescentinel posted this