Code of Conduct
Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast
Results 1 to 30 of 63
  1. #1

    Default When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    In reply to a rather ill-thought-out post I just made, DanielPlainview said
    I think you have a marked tendency for enjoying cacophonies of notes.
    On the face of it that seems to be where I'm headed but it isn't intentional. What I want from a scent is, I think, beauty. Something with the multiple sensory attractions of a Fortuny silk or an Indian miniature, or a Japanese ceramic. Scent also stimulates (and simulates) memory as well as desire, attraction, repulsion and many other things. Obviously, the best perfumers have command over a vast number of notes, ingredients, combinations, and weave a huge number of things (including both actual ingredients and imponderables like emotion) when they create their scents. Sometimes a complex scent becomes an overwhelming mess, and sometimes a simple one becomes very boring.

    So my question is: To what extent is complexity important to the success of a scent? When is complexity undesirable? When does it create a masterpiece, or descend into chaos? Is one person's cacophony another person's symphony? And is a successfully simple fragrance actually the product of complexity? I don't understand these things at all, but they interest me a great deal.

  2. #2
    Dependent
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    1,064
    Blog Entries
    6

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    One of the maximum levels of complexity was "Balenciaga pour Homme" (1990), a real masterpiece dangerously near to "cacophony", due to the big quantities of different notes. But it's a Masterpiece still today!

  3. #3

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    I find if the complexity of a scent is not in harmony then you get a discordant cacophony of notes all coming at you all at once. I find Frapin's 1697 to be a good example of this.
    Currently wearing: Balafre by LancŰme

  4. #4

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    I don't think that complexity is important in a scent at all-- ther may be only a few notes with one accord and it can be beautiful. A cacophony of notes in a scent sounds bad in itself.

  5. #5

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    IMO a fragrance can be very complex but still not be a cacophony of notes. It becomes a cacophony when the individual notes are discordant or when their contrast is not pleasant to the senses. The classic guerlains are the perfect examples of very complex perfumes that are not "cacophonic". They are the fragrance equivalents of Beethoven's 6th Symphony played by the Berlin Orchestra.

  6. #6

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    FWIW I thought your other post was very interesting.
    To me, both types of compositions could be, or become, masterpieces. Simplicity or complexity may not be requirements. For example YSL Opium Pour Homme or Caron 3rd Man. And on the other hand, Pour un Homme de Caron and Dior Eau Sauvage.

  7. #7

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    When Viktor and Rolf's Antidote is involved.

  8. #8
    Basenotes Institution dougczar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    12,273

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Hunter View Post
    I find Frapin's 1697 to be a good example of this.
    +1 - This is exactly the fragrance that came to mind when reading the OP's question.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    11,602

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    As usual, I don't think one can generalize too much. Complexity helps to sustain interest for an extended period of time - single note perfumes tend to become boring quite quickly. And I'm sure we all differ in what we define cacophony. Some dissonance could be wonderful for a person and horrid to another.

    That said, I think complex works when the perfume as a whole has a clear structure and "personality" (for lack of better words) that trascends the individual notes.

    cacio

  10. #10
    Dependent L'Homme Blanc Individuel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    My avatar is not a self portrait, just in case you were wondering.
    Posts
    6,582
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    When it works, it's Complexity.
    When it doesn't, it's Cacophony.
    "Follow your nose. It always knows." -- Toucan Sam

  11. #11
    hednic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    McLean, NYC, & Bķzios
    Posts
    111,034

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    Quote Originally Posted by OdilonRedon View Post
    Is one person's cacophony another person's symphony?
    IMO Yes. It's all very subjective.

  12. #12

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    I think 34 Boulevard St. Germain masterfully tiptoes that line between the two.

  13. #13

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    Quote Originally Posted by Buysblind View Post
    When Viktor and Rolf's Antidote is involved.
    Them's fightin' words!

    I definitely think it's all in the eye of the beholder. For instance, a simple song such as Joe Cocker's "You are so beautiful"
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlDmslyGmGI

    is as touching and moving to me (or more) as something very complex such as:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=412v5YGKr7Q

    There's a time and a place for both. Today, fragrance-wise, was a simple and laid back for me today, hence I'm rocking out and enjoying Play Sport. In this mood, this scent is more enjoyable to me than say Memoir Man (my signature); it's all about finding what resonates with specific moods, situations, environments, etc.
    ***For sale:

    Iris Pallida 50ml

    Ungaro I 75ml

    and more!
    - http://www.basenotes.net/threads/301...n-Man-and-more

  14. #14

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    When? With Amouage Gold.

    Or, in music, here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LACCAF04wSs

    Enjoy!

  15. #15
    Dependent Shiny Beast's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Las Vegas
    Posts
    3,100

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    Quote Originally Posted by SculptureOfSoul View Post
    I definitely think it's all in the eye of the beholder.
    Absolutely.

  16. #16

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    Quote Originally Posted by HORNS View Post
    I think 34 Boulevard St. Germain masterfully tiptoes that line between the two.
    +1. What about Guerlain's Cologne du 68? It supposedly contains 68 different notes, yet still manages to blend them into one seamless, albeit brief fragrance.
    Currently wearing: Potion by Dsquared2

  17. #17

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    I have used the phrase "note clash" in quite a few of my reviews. Others have already said that this is subjective, which I agree with, but I'll also add that note detection ability seems to play a role here. The best example I have come across is Cool Water, which many if not most people view as "smooth" (as well as very similar to GIT). I find it highly discordant, with notes that do not work well together, along with a candy-like quality that seems totally out of place. It's a real mess to me, but that seems to be an uncommon perception. By contrast, GIT begins a bit abrasive (perhaps largely due to the amount of lavender and violet leaf), but the notes work well together and it coalesces nicely over time (though I'm not suggesting this is a "great" or complex scent). In fact, many might call GIT's opening cacophonous, but that is difficult for me to address because I try to avoid most of the top notes in all scents.

    Oddly enough, Cool Water may come across as smooth to so many because it is so cacophonous that it deactivates their noses, so to speak. There was a recent article at Fragrantica about how if you take about 30 different notes and make them all the same strength a kind of "white noise" effect is achieved, which sounds like what you smell when you walk by Sephora at the mall. So, with Cool Water, the sweentess and the white noise type effect may be leading many to think of it as pleasant and smooth, rather than the mess that I perceive. It would bew interesting to create similar scents with a lot of sweetness (ethyl maltol?), clear notes of various kinds (but far less than 30), and dihydromyrcenol to see if it is also perceived as pleasant by the majority.
    Last edited by Bigsly; 26th March 2013 at 07:42 AM.

  18. #18

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    A good thread and all very good points of view.
    Is the juice worth the squeeze?

  19. #19

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    Oddly, all the complex scents I ever got to know and, more importantly, to smell, never struck me as disharmonious/unbalanced etc., no matter what a sensory overload of notes they contained- still, they were so well blended, I didn't truly sense these notes in any way redundant, unusually agglomerated. But then again, my fragrance experience is limited, so I might have never found the scent where complexity gets out of control yet, plus, maybe this is where the genius of complex fragrances sets in: sensing and acknowledging complex notes, yet never having the feeling they are imbalanced or disharmonious.

    On the other hand, it doesn't take much for a simple scent to be blended in a comparatively disharmonious way. If this scent has not more than 2-3 notes, but at least one already feels "off" or does stand out- but not in a pleasant, distinctive or individual way- the fact that the scent lacks complexity doesn't much help either.
    Currently wearing: Antaeus by Chanel

  20. #20
    Frag Bomb Squadron XIII
    Diamondflame's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Singapore
    Posts
    7,781

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    Quote Originally Posted by L'Homme Blanc Individuel View Post
    When it works, it's Complexity.
    When it doesn't, it's Cacophony.
    +1
    That's why it's subjective. To borrow music as an analogy, 'heavy metal' rock maybe cacophonic to some but musical nirvana to fans.

    Also worth remembering that every aromachemicals has its own evaporation rate/ projection profile. What smells discordant up close may smell smooth yet wonderfully complex from an arm's length. Similarly a discordant 'mess' in the opening could easily smooth itself out as the fragrance progresses. Ambient humidity, skin temperature, etc will affect the way a fragrance present itself. That's why it takes a while to properly review a fragrance.

    Btw I'd like to thank the OP for starting this interesting thread.
    Last edited by Diamondflame; 26th March 2013 at 08:08 AM.

  21. #21

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    Quote Originally Posted by L'Homme Blanc Individuel View Post
    When it works, it's Complexity.
    When it doesn't, it's Cacophony.
    This point, as well as the eye of the beholder, is what it boils down to in my eyes.
    Some may perceive off-notes to be crafty and brilliant ways to juxtapose different accords, and keep things interesting. Others may prefer a more harmonic and serene scent, where the others support the theme note/accord of either the whole scent, or the top/heart/base.

    Kudos to the OP for creating a great thread!

    And keeping in line with the music analogies presented by other posters, I give you Tender Surrender by Steve Vai.
    He is (IMO) very good at balancing between cacophony and complexity (oh, and don't mind his silly outfit...)

  22. #22

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    Yes, most of it is in the eyes, ears and nose of the beholder...

    I'm not sure, though, whether one person's melody is another's noise. If you like grindcore or death metal, you like it because it's a cacophony. It doesn't sound like Mozart to you: it's the discordancy, or the ugliness, or the stridency that's the attraction. Admittedly I've had fans of death metal explain it to me in terms of classical music but in the end they were talking about their experience of it, not the music itself. They liked the screaming and distortion because it was screaming and distortion. Are there fragrances that we like just because they are a strident mess by anyone's definition?

    But it does mostly come back to subjectivity. I had a totally negative reaction to Sartorial when I tried it, but I only gave it a go because so many other obviously expert sniffers had rated it so highly. I wouldn't dare presume to say that they are wrong and I'm right, because that's plainly impossible. But whatever it is that makes one person imagine a skilled tailor going about their hushed business and another picture someone's hung-over, badly-shaved uncle from the early 70s - that's the interesting bit.

    Must try Sartorial again, obviously!

  23. #23

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    Very good thread!!! I have tried frags where the notes all scream loudly and together. Slumberhouse is an example of a house that produces these. To some extent Bn9 does too. To me, a fragrance should slowly mature from sharp top notes into a stable base which carries several harmonious notes. A*Men is an example of a frag that has what appears to be dissonant notes working well. Creed Royal Water is an example of a failure to make them blend well. Many Penhaligon's are examples of "linear" frags that don't really evolve, but smell nice.

  24. #24

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    Wonderful thread.

    When any of the notes rise above the others in such a fashion where rather than playing a solo with the orchestra voluntarily playing for support. The soloist instead plays with such a huge ego so as to drown the orchestra who then have to fight to be heard above it.
    Currently wearing: Civet by Houbigant

  25. #25

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    Quote Originally Posted by JiveHippo View Post
    +1. What about Guerlain's Cologne du 68? It supposedly contains 68 different notes, yet still manages to blend them into one seamless, albeit brief fragrance.
    In all honesty, it is mostly hype...like KFC's "secret recipe" containing 12 herbs/spices. Yea there are 12 but Most are just trace amounts. I have reproduced fried chicken almost identical in taste using pepper, MSG, salt, and paprika. Guerlain's 68 truly does have a truckload of competing notes, but most fall away and you are left with a sort of floral gourmand vanilla powder.

  26. #26

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    CK Shock for Him is the most recent example of fragrance cacophony to me. Only sniffed it once or twice, so maybe I didn't give it enough of a chance. But it struck me as a bunch of odd, random notes crammed into a garish bottle. Not so much of a shock, more a cacophony.

  27. #27

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    When your nose tells you so.
    "To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat." - Beverley Nichols

  28. #28
    Super Member Letitbenose's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    France
    Posts
    262

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    When it doesn't smell good!
    As many have already pointed out, I think it depend on your nose. It's like Jazz! Charlie Bird joints are total cacophony/chaos to some people
    FWIW, for example, I don't find 1697 (Frapin) cacophonic at all, but to be an interesting reinterpretation of Vanille Absolument

  29. #29

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    I donīt like when people say the phrase " It is completely relative"

    We are human beings and there are patterns to our behaviors and tastes. Even though you will always be able to find exceptions to rules, rules do exist. That is what social science is all about. Why do you think babies like the smell and taste of breast milk so much? In our evolution, we developed a sense of smell and such sense includes favorite notes and accords. It should be easy to find accords that are considered dissonant or discordant by the majority of people.

    If there is reasonable consensus that Beethoven's 6th symphony is balanced and not just a cacophony of notes, THEN it is also possiblle to find near consensus about the balance of perfumes.

    We have to find patterns in nature. This is the essence of Science.

  30. #30

    Default Re: When does Complexity become Cacophony?

    Quote Originally Posted by Buysblind View Post
    When Viktor and Rolf's Antidote is involved.
    I get your point about Antidote, but I don't think it could ever be described as 'complex' -- rather just a load of notes thrown together haphazardly -- imo of course, i.e. a 'cacophany'.

    OP - nice thread.

Similar Threads

  1. Complexity of a fragrance
    By Possum-Pie in forum Just Starting Out
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 5th August 2012, 03:25 PM
  2. Replies: 37
    Last Post: 9th June 2011, 04:12 PM
  3. Complexity Vs Simplicity
    By jlouismi in forum Male Fragrance Discussion
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 27th September 2010, 11:04 PM
  4. On complexity and quality...
    By LedByMyNose in forum Female Fragrance Discussion
    Replies: 23
    Last Post: 21st May 2009, 12:45 PM
  5. The Value of Complexity
    By LuciusVorenus in forum Male Fragrance Discussion
    Replies: 33
    Last Post: 10th April 2008, 02:42 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  



Loving perfume on the Internet since 2000