You may be surprised to hear it, but fragrances and music have quite a lot in common.
Perhaps, the first similarity that comes to mind is their ability to create an atmosphere and elevate mood and ambiance in an instant.
Like music, a fragrance can evoke powerful emotions, reignite memories and enable us to express deeply embedded narratives.
Music and perfumery distil stories and memories into individual notes, blended into vibrant “compositions”. They both try to capture the essence of emotions. Like listening to music, what we smell has a profound impact on our mood, working capacity, and sense of well-being and has a unique ability to transcend emotion and transport us to a place of sensory calm, or otherwise… This is why perfumes can support our well-being in so many ways, forging connections with our memories and empowering us to engage with our emotions.
More importantly, music and perfume are made up of a combination of “notes” and just like a chord in music, a perfume contains top, middle, and base notes.
The ability of a perfumer, like a musician, is to blend different notes into a harmonious composition. Just like a piece of music, a perfume has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
What are “notes” in perfume? From top to base…
A top note is the first scent you ‘experience’ when you first apply the fragrance.
This is the scent that is apparent immediately upon spraying the fragrance and has the least longevity. “Opening notes” or “top notes” include citrusy, summery, woody, spicy, or floral scents. They have the lightest molecules and evaporate first.
“Top notes” include Verbena.
Verbena has a lemony scent, but it is lighter than the fragrance of pure lemon and has sweet, fruity undertones. The leaves of this flowering plant – which can grow to two or three meters – are deliciously lemony and fresh when rubbed, and give a cleanness and ‘uplifting’ freshness to scents.
You can enjoy the energizing notes of Verbena with this natural “Verbena” Eau de Toilette by Le Chatelard.
After about 15 minutes, heavier notes start floating about, adding new elements to the smell sensation. These are called the “middle notes” or “heart notes”, and they make up around 70% of the total scent and are the most notable part of a perfume. They become more apparent as the top note dissipates. The middle note makes up the basis for the fragrance as a whole.
Let’s explore a bit more these iconic scents.
Lavender has a delicate, sweet smell that is floral, herbal, and evergreen woody at the same time. Some lavenders have a more balsamic resin scent of rosemary. Lavender adds a herby note – but interestingly, by adding it to other fragrance notes you can push it towards ‘cool’ herbal, towards the smell of mint, or you can go in the other direction and push it towards ‘hot’ herby, almost spicy, like the scent of a hot summer’s night.’
Lavender is used in modern fragrance to revive the senses and keep that feeling of late summer going, year-round. It works well alongside other aromatic ingredients like pine, sage, and rosemary, as well as patchouli, oakmoss, bergamot, neroli, and orange blossom. All refreshing ingredients…
This delicate and addictive Eau de Toilette with “Lavender and Snowdrop” is a perfect example of a gentle floral blend full of fresh and soothing elements.
Believe it or not, not all roses smell the same. The smell that the majority of people associate with roses belongs to an ancient Damask rose, which also happens to be the most fragrant among all rose species. With their powerful scent, they’re an absolute cornerstone of perfumery – the most important flower of all, from the point of view of a nose: sometimes powdery, sometimes woody, musky, myrrh and clove-like, sometimes fruity, and always intensely romantic.
Roses are said to feature in at least 75% of modern feminine fragrances, and at least 10% of all men’s perfumes. The roses most commonly used in modern perfumery are the Turkish rose, the Damask (or Damascene rose), and Rosa Centifolia (the ‘hundred-leafed rose’), which is grown around Grasse in the south of France, generally considered to produce the highest quality of precious rose absolute, although in limited quantities. This rose is also known as Rose de Mai, because it generally blooms in May, and – romantically – ‘the painter’s rose’ because it features in many works of the old masters.
The “Rosamour” Eau de Toilette by Le Chatelard brings you all the precious joy of the roses from Grasse in a bottle!
After about 30 minutes, during the ‘dry down’ of the perfume, the base notes will appear. They reveal themselves as the perfume sits on your skin and warms up to your body temperature and they stay with you the longest. They have heavy molecules that take much longer to evaporate. Base notes add depth and richness to a blend, as well as acting as an anchor for the entire perfume.
Popular “base notes” include vanilla, amber, musk, patchouli, moss, and woody notes like sandalwood and cedarwood.
A music composer can use any note anywhere in a composition, but a perfumer can’t. A perfumer has to know the weight or behaviour of each molecule: the lightest molecules can only be used as top notes, and the heaviest molecules will, by definition, end up at the end of the composition, as base notes.
There are hundreds of different notes, and every day new fragrance notes are invented. Our smell receptors can distinguish about 10.000 different smells, making them the most sensitive of all our senses. Compare it with our sense of taste that can only distinguish between five different tastes!
Next time you try different fragrances, take your time, listen to the entire composition, and see what it does with you on an emotional level.
Let’s embrace the power of fragrances, you might be surprised by their impact on your feelings.
See our selections of scents here you are sure to find one you like!
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