Notes within notes—take note!

Matryoshka dolls

We know that smell is subjective, and I have also read somewhere the idea that no matter what you say a thing smells like, you are probably right to some degree. I will sometimes think I’ve captured most of the main facets of a certain material, and then come across a description of another characteristic, smell the material again to see if I detect it, and voilà, it seems so obvious in retrospect. It’s similar to how multiple-choice questions are often easier to answer than open-ended ones when one is not very familiar with the topic.

My other half usually finds a vial suddenly appearing under his nose, without knowing anything about its contents, and responds with adjectives (“woody” most of the time, and “soapy” without fail if I have included even the tiniest amount of aldehyde) or guesses at ingredients (he has a special radar for patchouli). Sometimes he would name an ingredient and I would say, “There’s no _____ in this one!” However, I have realized that I can never be sure, as long as I’m using any commercially available bases. It may be a leather “specialty” note, but that may well contain sandalwood, jasmine, and rose in its formula. Not to mention the fact that the main molecules in one material may be prevalent in several others, becoming more prominent in one’s perception.

I recently purchased the book The Formulation and Preparation of Cosmetics, Fragrances and Flavors by Louis Appell, which was highly recommended by the blog The Perfumer’s Craft, itself a wealth of knowledge and resources. The book provides several formulae of classical styles of perfume as well as specialty bases and is highly useful for studying how many accords are made.

You may think I’m small, but I have a universe inside my mind.

—Yoko Ono

A similar idea might hold true for many perfumery materials.

5 thoughts on “Notes within notes—take note!

  1. I’m not sure if my comment went into moderation: I don’t see it, but the site prevents me from posting it again. I suspect it was too long and was sent to Spam folder because of that 🙂 Can you please check it and then delete this one if the real comment is found?


  2. I remember someone’s comment on compliments received (in real life). It was something along the line: “When they say that that broach, or purse, or shoes go(es) well with my outfit, I feel like ‘Duh! It didn’t happen by itself – I put it all together!’” While I didn’t agree with her completely, I know what she meant, and it stuck with me over years. By this time you’ve been probably wondering where I was going with that. I wanted to say that the post title, the illustration and the content, including the epilogue quote – all fits so perfectly together that I experienced that envious feeling “I wish I would/could have done it!” And I realize that it hasn’t happened by chance.

    With asking my vSO about scents it’s even more random. Because of allergies, his ability to smell anything at all (not specific for perfumes) is unpredictable – sometimes he doesn’t register a very strong smell while an hour later he would suddenly be alarmed “what is that smell?!” for something mundane that had been around for some time – so that I don’t even notice it. But whenever I put anything under his nose, he would try to figure it out – and on most occasions his first guess is “Rose?” Next time he does it, I’ll re-check to see if I can smell it too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the compliment! I must say, though, you’ve probably “done it” multiple times and when the high standard becomes what we’re used to seeing, we (I) might not always point it out anymore—doesn’t mean we’re any less impressed! 🙂
      My other half guesses “rose” a lot too for perfumes I’m wearing, as there’s a high chance he’ll be right. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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