Hear smells & smell songs

Dana El Masri, the Jazmin Saraï perfumer, is “inspired by the concept of synesthesia, cross-modality and Septimus Piesse’s The art of perfumery. Merging music and fragrance the perfumes encourage the user  to engage with fine perfumery in more sensorially rich and evocative way.

The widely shared idea idea in perfumery that sounds and scents may be linked in the brain goes back to Septimus Piesse in his Art of Perfumery (1862):

“Scents, like sounds, appear to influence the olfactory nerve in certain definite degrees.” (p. 45).

As the featured image of this post shows Piesse also suggested that there may be an octave of odour:

There is, as it were, an octave of odours like an octave in music ; certain odours coincide, like the keys of an instrument. Such as almond, -heliotrope, vanilla, and clematis blend together, each producing different degrees of a nearly similar impression. (p.45)

One can doubt the validity of this point. The analogy seems to be a bit mechanistic and simple. Yet, it is an appealing and even today popular story. And what is more important in the context of contemporary perfumery is how this story inspired creative production and what creators take out of it.

In the case of  Jazmin Saraï the concept is (fortunately) only looseley coupled with the original view:

Each perfume is translated through beats, rhythm, harmony, lyrics, and tempo. An olfactive reimagining…an homage to the artists that inspired them. The choice of musicians and genres is meant to be a commentary on the diverse, multicultural world that we live in now.  The two invisible mediums illicit raw emotions within a person, embracing the multiplicity of the senses. It helps one engage with oneself and with others through a change in perception. Illuminating the power of music as well the effect of the sense of smell on our subconscious. This is a new chance to experience scents, new genres of music as well as delving into synesthesia (the merging of the senses).

Dana El Masri and her label the Jazmin Saraï has been widely discussed and reviewed by leading bloggers and in the wider community of perfumista:

The Nosey Artist for CaFleureBon

Colognoisseur – Review of Solar’1 

The Interview Series, Scentspy – Meet Dana El Masri, Part 1 & Part 2

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Piesse, G. W. S. (1867). The art of perfumery and the methods of obtaining the odors of plants. Philadelphia – Pa: Lindsay & Blakiston, p. 45ff.