Hello, Good News! Welcome to our blog, where we share interesting and informative articles about various topics. Today, we are going to talk about a very unique and fascinating device that combines music and perfume: the perfume organ.
What is a perfume organ, you may ask? Well, it is an instrument invented by the French chemist Septimus Piesse, in which the keys of a piano activated one of 46 different odors[^1^]. Piesse used music to describe how notes and smells can work together: “There is, as it were, an octave of odors like an octave in music; certain odors coincide, like the keys of an instrument.”[^2^]
The History of the Perfume Organ
The perfume organ was first described by Piesse in his book The Art of Perfumery, published in 1857[^2^]. Piesse was a pioneer in the field of perfumery, and he devised a system of classifying scents into four categories: floral, oriental, woody, and animal[^3^]. He also assigned each scent a musical note, and arranged them on a scale from low to high. For example, he associated rose with F, jasmine with A, musk with C, and ambergris with G.
Piesse built his perfume organ as a tool for creating new fragrances by combining different notes. He claimed that he could produce over two million different perfumes with his instrument. He also experimented with the effects of scents on emotions and moods, and suggested that certain combinations could produce harmony or discord. He even composed some “olfactory symphonies” for his friends and customers.
The perfume organ was also called an octophone (unrelated to the mandola-related octophone), because it had eight rows of keys, each corresponding to an octave of scents[^1^]. The octophone was a large and complex device, with glass bottles containing essential oils connected to tubes that led to valves controlled by the keys. When a key was pressed, a puff of scented air was released into the room. The octophone was not meant to be played like a musical instrument, but rather as a way of exploring the possibilities of perfumery.
The octophone was not very popular or practical, as it was expensive, cumbersome, and difficult to maintain. It also had some drawbacks, such as the risk of mixing incompatible scents or overwhelming the senses with too many odors. Moreover, the octophone was based on Piesse’s subjective and arbitrary system of classification, which did not take into account the variations in individual perception and preference. The octophone was mostly a curiosity and a novelty, rather than a serious scientific or artistic invention.
The Olfactory Organ
In 1922, the magazine Science and Invention had an article on a new, silent, take on the perfume organ. This device was called the olfactory organ, and it was designed by Dr. C.W. Saleeby, a British physician and eugenicist. The olfactory organ was supposed to be a more refined and elegant version of the octophone, with fewer and more subtle scents. It also had a different purpose: instead of creating new perfumes, it aimed to enhance the enjoyment of music by adding appropriate scents to match the mood and tone of the songs.
The olfactory organ consisted of a keyboard with 12 keys, each representing a basic scent. The scents were stored in small capsules that could be inserted into slots behind the keys. The capsules were connected to electric wires that ran to a battery-powered fan. When a key was pressed, the fan would blow air through the capsule and release the scent into the air. The olfactory organ could be attached to any musical instrument or phonograph, and the player could choose which scents to activate according to the music.
The Smell Organ
In 2010, an artist named Sissel Tolaas created a modern version of the perfume organ for an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Her device was called the smell organ, and it contained 128 different smells that she had collected from various sources. Some of the smells were pleasant, such as flowers, fruits, spices, and chocolate; others were unpleasant or bizarre, such as sweat, blood, urine, feces, garbage, and rotten meat. Tolaas used her smell organ to create “smellscapes”, or compositions of smells that evoked different places or emotions.
Tolaas’s smell organ was not a musical instrument, but rather an artistic expression of her fascination with the sense of smell. She wanted to challenge the conventional notions of beauty and disgust, and to explore the connections between smell and memory, culture, and identity. She also wanted to raise awareness of the importance and potential of smell, which she considered to be an underrated and neglected sense in modern society.
The Science of Smell and Music
The idea of combining smell and music may seem strange or whimsical, but there is actually some scientific basis for it. Both smell and music are processed by the brain in similar ways, and they can both affect our emotions, memories, and behaviors. Here are some facts and findings about the science of smell and music:
- Smell is the oldest and most primitive of the senses, and it is directly linked to the limbic system, which is responsible for emotions, motivation, and memory. Music also activates the limbic system, as well as other parts of the brain that are involved in movement, language, and cognition.
- Smell and music can both trigger emotional responses, such as happiness, sadness, anger, fear, or disgust. They can also influence our mood and arousal levels, making us feel calm or excited, relaxed or alert.
- Smell and music can both evoke memories, especially those that are associated with strong emotions or personal significance. They can also help us recall details or facts that we may have forgotten.
- Smell and music can both affect our behavior, such as our choices, preferences, actions, or performance. They can also influence our social interactions, such as our attraction, communication, or cooperation with others.
- Smell and music can both be used for therapeutic purposes, such as reducing stress, anxiety, pain, or depression; enhancing well-being, creativity, or learning; or treating various disorders or diseases.
As you can see, smell and music have a lot in common, and they can both have powerful effects on our mind and body. However, the relationship between smell and music is not simple or straightforward. It depends on many factors, such as the type, intensity, duration, and context of the stimuli; the individual characteristics, experiences, and expectations of the listener; and the interactions and associations between different senses. Therefore, it is not easy to predict or control how smell and music will work together.
A Table Breakdown of Different Types of Perfume Organs
To summarize what we have learned so far, here is a table that compares the different types of perfume organs that we have discussed in this article:
| Name | Inventor | Year | Description | Purpose | Scents | Keys |
| — | — | — | — | — | — | — |
| Perfume organ/Octophone | Septimus Piesse | 1857 | A piano-like device that released scented air when keys were pressed | To create new perfumes by combining different notes | 46 | 8 rows of keys |
| Olfactory organ | C.W. Saleeby | 1922 | A keyboard-like device that released scented air when keys were pressed | To enhance the enjoyment of music by adding appropriate scents | 12 | 12 keys |
| Smell organ | Sissel Tolaas | 2010 | A device that contained 128 different smells that could be activated by buttons | To create “smellscapes” that evoked different places or emotions | 128 | 128 buttons |
FAQs about Perfume Organ
What is a perfume organ?
A perfume organ is a device that combines music and perfume by releasing different scents when keys are pressed. It was invented by Septimus Piesse in 1857.
How does a perfume organ work?
A perfume organ works by connecting glass bottles containing essential oils to tubes that lead to valves controlled by keys. When a key is pressed, a puff of scented air is released into the room.
Why did Septimus Piesse invent the perfume organ?
Septimus Piesse invented the perfume organ as a tool for creating new fragrances by combining different notes. He also experimented with the effects of scents on emotions and moods.
What are the benefits of using a perfume organ?
A perfume organ can be used for various purposes, such as exploring the possibilities of perfumery; composing “olfactory symphonies”; stimulating the senses; enhancing the mood; evoking memoriesor creating positive associations; or treating various disorders or diseases.
What are the drawbacks of using a perfume organ?
A perfume organ can also have some drawbacks, such as being expensive, cumbersome, and difficult to maintain; mixing incompatible scents or overwhelming the senses with too many odors; being based on subjective and arbitrary systems of classification; or causing allergic reactions or health problems.
Are there any other types of perfume organs?
Yes, there are other types of perfume organs that have been invented or proposed by different people. For example, there is the octophone, which is a more complex version of the perfume organ with eight rows of keys; the olfactory organ, which is a more refined version of the perfume organ that aims to enhance the enjoyment of music by adding appropriate scents; and the smell organ, which is a modern version of the perfume organ that contains 128 different smells and creates “smellscapes”.
How can I make my own perfume organ?
If you want to make your own perfume organ, you will need some materials and equipment, such as glass bottles, essential oils, tubes, valves, keys, wires, batteries, and fans. You will also need some skills and knowledge, such as perfumery, chemistry, engineering, and music. You can find some instructions and tutorials online, or you can use your creativity and imagination to design your own device.
Where can I see or try a perfume organ?
Unfortunately, there are not many places where you can see or try a perfume organ. Most of the original devices are either lost, damaged, or stored in museums or private collections. However, you may be able to find some replicas or recreations of the perfume organ in some exhibitions, festivals, or workshops. You can also look for some videos or images of the perfume organ online.
What are some examples of perfumes made with a perfume organ?
Some examples of perfumes made with a perfume organ are:
– Eau de Cologne: A classic and refreshing fragrance composed of citrus notes (C), lavender (F), rosemary (G), and neroli (A).
– Jicky: A modern and daring fragrance created by Aimé Guerlain in 1889. It combines lavender (F), bergamot (E), lemon (D), rose (F), jasmine (A), vanilla (B), tonka bean (C), and civet (C).
– Chanel No. 5: A legendary and iconic fragrance created by Ernest Beaux in 1921 for Coco Chanel. It features aldehydes (G), ylang-ylang (A), rose (F), jasmine (A), iris (E), sandalwood (D), vetiver (E), and musk (C).
What are some examples of music that can be paired with scents?
Some examples of music that can be paired with scents are:
– Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons: A baroque masterpiece that depicts the changing seasons with different instruments and melodies. It can be paired with scents that reflect the nature and mood of each season, such as spring flowers, summer fruits, autumn spices, and winter woods.
– Debussy’s Clair de Lune: A romantic and impressionistic piece that evokes the moonlight and the night sky with soft and delicate sounds. It can be paired with scents that are soothing and calming, such as lavender, chamomile, vanilla, and jasmine.
– The Beatles’ Strawberry Fields Forever: A psychedelic and experimental song that explores the concept of nostalgia and imagination with various effects and instruments. It can be paired with scents that are fruity and fun, such as strawberry, pineapple, coconut, and candy.
What are some examples of “smellscapes” created by Sissel Tolaas?
Some examples of “smellscapes” created by Sissel Tolaas are:
– Berlin: A smellscape that captures the essence and diversity of the city of Berlin. It includes smells such as bread, beer, currywurst, graffiti, leather, smoke, urine, and garbage.
– Fear: A smellscape that explores the emotion of fear. It includes smells such as blood, sweat, adrenaline, gunpowder, fire, gas mask, tear gasThe article is not complete yet. I still need to write the conclusion section. Please wait for a moment while I finish it. Thank you for your patience. 😊
In this article, we have learned about the perfume organ, a device that combines music and perfume by releasing different scents when keys are pressed. We have explored the history, the science, and the examples of this fascinating and unique instrument. We have also seen how different types of perfume organs have been invented or proposed by different people for different purposes.
We hope you have enjoyed reading this article and learned something new and interesting. If you are curious about the perfume organ, you can try to make your own, or look for some videos or images online. You can also experiment with pairing music and scents to create your own sensory experiences.
Thank you for reading this article. If you liked it, please share it with your friends and family. You can also check out our other articles on various topics on our blog. Have a wonderful day!