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  1. #1

    Default My dabbling with perfumery could be the end...

    I'm kind of bugged by something.

    Last week I received my basic perfumers' organ from Perfumers' World and I have begun to work on training my nose and I've been experimenting with the aroma chemicals.

    Well, I'm terrified that as I learn to identify more and more of these smells... all the beauty and wonder will be gone. One of the aroma chemicals was a vial of linalool and now, when I smell some of my favorite fragrances, I can pick out linalool. It's like eating all of this wonderful food for years, and then learning that the food was so great because of all the MSG. So my nose is MUCH more aware of things than it was even a week ago. BUT I think I may have preferred the ignorance of smelling things purely aesthetically. Once I learn more of the components of scents, will they ever strike me on an abstract,visual level again? Will a fragrance still transport me, when I've seen the levers and pulleys? Is it worth it to trade the one obsession that I love for a glimpse behind the curtain? I don't know.

    Last night I was at work and I smelled something. Somebody or some thing was wearing a scent that smelled of vanilla. But it didn't smell of vanilla, like I've ever known. It smelled only of the vanilla from my aroma kit. And that vanilla, I presume is probably straight coumarin, or close to it. So all I could think of was, "damn, the smell--a week ago, I would have found it intriguing. Now, it's just some straight chemical coumarin, and it's gassing me out."

    It's not like I'm suddenly thinking my nose is great or anything. It's just that question of..."Do i want to continue down this road?" What if the more stuff I learn, the more I become disenchanted with the world of smell? I just wonder if this kind of thing happens

  2. #2

    Default Re: My dabbling with perfumery could be the end...

    You may loose a little magic and gain a lot of depth. Its only the raw smells you will be familiar with but the art is in the composition (which you will be better equiped to appreciate).
    "Don’t try to be original. Be simple. Be good technically, and if there is something in you, it will come out. ” - Henri Matisse.

    "Wear R de Capucci" - Hirch Duckfinder


  3. #3
    The_Giraffe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    United States

    Default Re: My dabbling with perfumery could be the end...

    I think in the long run it will make you more into smells. I heard somewhere that you're a musician. Does that make you like music less? It makes you more analytical, and well, more critical, but also more appreciative of the really beautiful works of art. No matter how much you know about scent I have faith that the greatest fragrances will still enchant you to the point that it won't even cross your mind to try to pick apart the scent in your head. Average knowlege trumps average art, but the greatest art transcends all knowledge.

  4. #4

    Default Re: My dabbling with perfumery could be the end...

    Ah, the cold, cool science exact: The killer of the romantic vision. [smiley=thumbdown.gif]

  5. #5

    Default Re: My dabbling with perfumery could be the end...


    Your problem is similar to an issue that chefs go through, so I'll make an analogy. I'm an amature, but I cook a lot and I certainly see/taste/understand food differently than my friends who don't cook. Perfumery may be a slightly different issue because of the "art" element that is not ususally present in most common food, but you may find something that helps here.

    A dish looses its mystery once you know how to make it. Its true, sorry. However, you develop a deeper appreciation for that same dish when it is well made. I think a chef/cook is much better qualified to separate skillful or complex cooking from the basic run of the mill stuff. Anyone can tell you if something is good or bad according to his taste, but an experienced chef/cook appreciates why it is good or bad. Somethings are best left simple while others florish with a lot of care and subtlety. A good cook knows this and doesn't just go fancy on everything because he can.

    Will the art of perfumery loose its mystery to you if you experiment too much with the organ? Maybe. Probably. But you might just develop a different sense of appreciation for fragrance. My recommendation is that you decide which you are more fascinated by in fragrance: the smell qua smell or the delicate balancing act of blending scents. They are 2 very different fields to play on, and I'm fairly certain it is one or the other though both can be enjoyable.

    As some very simple yet telling support for spending more time at the organ: I still like food. I may see it in a different light, but I don't like it less for knowing how it's done. In fact, I wouldn't even say my tastes have changed the more I cook, unless it's that my tastes have expanded. I still love me some country cookin', but I love gourmet too. And I like to cook both.

  6. #6
    Joel_Cairo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Cambridge, MA

    Default Re: My dabbling with perfumery could be the end...

    also similar to something film students go through. I'll be watching a movie with my friends, and eveyone is all into it, on the edge of their seats and the like, while Im sitting there thinking good god the second act is waaay too long in this"

  7. #7

    Default Re: My dabbling with perfumery could be the end...

    I've had similar things happen to me. I started out as an English Literature major in college, but after analyzing everything to death, spotting symbolism, etc., in my assignments, it began to drift over into my leisure reading, to the point where I felt like I was looking for some kind of meaning in an US Weekly article. Since I've been out of college for several years now, I appreciate those skills I developed as an English Lit major (I eventually switched it to my minor). It's made me appreciate good literature and has helped me spot some pretty interesting things in certain books. And since it's been so many years since I was irritated by my overanalyzation of all things in print, I am able to now enjoy "fluff" without looking for further meaning in it.

    The only thing I have trouble with now when reading books and magazines is the fact that I mentally edit everything as I read along. I worked as an editor for a few years, so I spot all sorts of things (beyond mere spelling and grammar errors) that drive me insane. I always think, "I would never have done it that way!", etc. But, ultimately, I am happy to have this skill because it is handy at times. And it makes me want to learn more--I am forever looking up words, guidelines for proper usage, etc.

    I think your newfound hobby might put a damper on the way you used to enjoy scents...but only for a while. Eventually, it will drive you to learn more and deepen your appreciation of your frags. You'll be glad you've expanded your knowledge. I imagine it's probably the same with people that are wine connoisseurs and the like. Plus, you have a whole new interesting conversation topic!

  8. #8

    Default Re: My dabbling with perfumery could be the end...

    There is a difference between understanding something, and feeling it (think Spock and McCoy). However, those who comprehend both intellectually and emotionally (think Kirk) have an advantage over those with narrower perspectives.

    Often only an expert's insight can reveal hidden beauty. Don't you find it interesting that an appreciation of avant-garde jazz or abstract art is more often displayed by those who have studied music or art, than by those who have not? The enlightened perceive beauty where others see/hear only noise.

    It Johannes Kepler to recognize the "Harmony of the Worlds," and mathematician Benoît Mandelbrot to see the beauty in fractal geometry. Italian Renaissance painting was driven largely by the rediscovery of geometric perspective, and French Impressionism was fueled by the new sciences of optics and chemistry.

    Your former (and well regarded, I might add) understanding of fragrances did not destroy the mystery or beauty. If history is any indicator, your newfound knowledge will create at least as many mysteries as it destroys.

  9. #9

    Default Re: My dabbling with perfumery could be the end...

    It's not easy to ignore the man behind the curtain once you have seen him (sorry for the lame Wizard of Oz reference). I'm sure every field has a similar analogy. What makes man different than animals is our hunger for information, and desire to explain why all things in the world are, and came to be.

    In the quest for this knowledge, the bliss of ignorance and faith have been severely compromised. In the end we have become a more advanced society for knowing what we now understand about the human body and world around us. Though, I'm not yet convinced as time passes its a fair trade-off for losing the simple part of us that would sometimes rather defer to "magic" or a higher being than a 10,000 page scientific report.

    It seems this is the case for you Indie, having seen behind the curtain of your favorite fragrances some of the magic is lost, hopefully you will still find a way to continue to enjoy them.

  10. #10

    Default Re: My dabbling with perfumery could be the end...

    I guess what you are experiencing is inherent to the process of learning, and music is a good analogy. Let's imagine you love listening to music (in your case I think this will be easy) and want to learn to play an instrument. You start taking lessons and hearing about chromatic scales and major sevenths and all that boring stuff and start wondering: "Hey, this is not funny anymore! This seems like algebra!" But if you are patient, and take the time to understand all those concepts, you will gain a deeper understanding of music and in the long run you will enjoy it even more.
    "It is the mark of a brave man to admit defeat, cut his loss and move on." - David Ogilvy

  11. #11

    Default Re: My dabbling with perfumery could be the end...

    Hi tiffanyandco, I am a graduate of English Literature like you. There were only 7 people in my class, lol. Glad I've come this way, I'm so into it. Sorry Indie_Guy, didn't mean to steal your thread.
    Current Top 5

    1. Creed Aventus
    2. A*Men Pure Malt
    3. L'instant Extreme
    4. Nasomatto Duro
    5. CDG - Kyoto
    Currently wearing: Desire Silver by Dunhill

  12. #12

    Default Re: My dabbling with perfumery could be the end...

    Thanks for the interesting replies. Some of the most thoughtful and friendly posts I've seen in a while.

    I definitely liked the music/film/cooking/literature etc analogies. Being a musician, its quite natural. I am very obsessive about music though. And alot of times, so obsessive that I can't listen to it. But it's like certain things annoy me, and I can tell you VERY objectively WHY I hate any given piece of music--especially, something like film scoring.

    Imagine a film where there is at the final scene, a spaceship (like E.T.) going up into space into the stars. And then you always hear the same type of score. Rather than me thinking, there's something about this that is annoying... I will likely think, "Oh, this composer is an unoriginal hack, using that old cliched lydian mode, the dreamy effect of the the augmented 4th/diminished 5th...what an overused effect.

    Again, when I hear really bad music, I can tell you everything that is bad about it in an objective manner. The popularity of using major thirds in a melody line over a minor chord in an attempt to sound exotic...oh, I really hate that. Just an example. You can spot the "devices" used and see what makes a particular song so poorly constructed. A good song on the other hand obviously has the same 12 notes to work with, and while you may spot a "device" every once in a while, usually you're just feeling the song and enjoying it.

    So perhaps with scents, I'll be able to critique a bad scent, and with specific knocks against it, but with a good scent, I can just enjoy it like a good song. We'll see...

  13. #13

    Join Date
    Jun 2005

    Default Re: My dabbling with perfumery could be the end...

    I used to try to pick out every note in a fragrance. The more complex the fragrance, the more "fun" it was to do that. But when I understand the fragrance totally, I would be tired of it.
    For example, Bvlgari pour Homme used to be one of my favourites. It smelled so complex and unique. It was the fragrance that led to my discovery of basenotes. After taking a look at the fragrance pyramid and picking out the individual notes, it's no longer interesting. Now it just sits there in my wardrobe untouched...
    Nowadays I stop myself from doing that. Everytime it strikes me "ahhh I know what that is!" I quickly pull myself back and stop disemminating the fragrance any further. So now I just try to interpret the feelings or images the perfumer would like to bring across.
    Similarly, I would try not to wear the same fragrance for 2-3 consecutive days to prevent myself from "knowing it too well". This helps to keep my love for a fragrance "fresh"

    But since I started doing all that, I haven't been able to write any reviews or lengthy comments because as I was saying, I would try to avoid knowing a fragrance too well. :-/

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