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Thread: Naming notes

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  1. #1

    Default Naming notes

    Let me see if I can put this into words...

    When you're smelling a fragrance...is there ever a time when you smell a distinct unit (note) that you can't name?
    Or does the note, by definition, need to be an established thing?
    Is it that if there's something that can't be named then it becomes a situation where a previously discussed note becomes the starting point and then a description gets added to expand on the detail? (I actually see that happen a lot in forum posts.)

    Is it a situation where everything can be named by elaborating on an established note or breaking down accord components?

    What I'm wondering is in your mind...does your mind ever isolate a discrete smell unit (e.g. the way things like vetiver, tobacco, neroli, etc. get isolated for discussion purposes)...so, does it ever happen that your mind finds a discrete smell unit that you feel simply doesn't have a name?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Naming notes

    My mind sometimes receives overall impressions that are difficult to break down into isolated notes; in such cases, mood is a better descriptor than smell. Or a note might be so prominent on its own that you can't miss it (neroli, for example), and it acts in the manner of a plucked string, leading from one sensory experience to the next. I don't find that everything can be named or broken down into note components, since notes and ingredients are different and chemicals can be combined in so many ways. That's part of the beauty and mystery of perfume, to me. I think that the best fragrances are kaleidoscopic in their effects, and the sensory impressions they arouse can change from wearer to wearer, and hour to hour. I'm often struck by reviews that break down perfumes into specific notes that I am unable to detect at all; conversely, sometimes I can smell dominant isolated notes that are not even mentioned by reviewers or in company blurbs. I hope I have understood your question correctly.

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    Default Re: Naming notes

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Krycek View Post
    What I'm wondering is in your mind...does your mind ever isolate a discrete smell unit (e.g. the way things like vetiver, tobacco, neroli, etc. get isolated for discussion purposes)...so, does it ever happen that your mind finds a discrete smell unit that you feel simply doesn't have a name?
    Quite often for me. There are certain accords I just don't recognize, or if they are familiar from having smelled them often, can't put a name to them.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Naming notes

    Quote Originally Posted by Bonnette View Post
    I don't find that everything can be named or broken down into note components, since notes and ingredients are different and chemicals can be combined in so many ways. That's part of the beauty and mystery of perfume, to me. I think that the best fragrances are kaleidoscopic in their effects, and the sensory impressions they arouse can change from wearer to wearer, and hour to hour.
    Thank you Bonnette. I like your explanation of kaleidoscopic effects. This is how it strikes me also.

    Quote Originally Posted by hednic View Post
    Quite often for me. There are certain accords I just don't recognize, or if they are familiar from having smelled them often, can't put a name to them.
    Thank you hednic. I was very interested (and maybe a little bit surprised) to read that you experienced fragrance like this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shemelimelle View Post
    Yes, it happens to me more often than not. Sometimes my nose latches onto a minor player in the bunch, and I enjoy it as much as the major players in the bunch.
    Thank you Shemelimelle. Props to the "minor players"!

  5. #5

    Default Re: Naming notes

    There are so many notes and accords that I can't identify when I sample fragrances that I usually feel like a total noob. For example, there is sometimes this texture that I recognize in fragrances as "balsamic." I call it balsamic. But I don't really know that I'm using the right word for it. It's kind of oily, kind of tart, kind of acidic...i don't know, I call it balsamic. There are many like that. Another area that I often struggle with is florals. I don't know floral notes very well and have a hard time distinguishing between them. I can usually get rose. sometimes jasmine. But beyond that...I call them generically "florals." I struggle with dense fragrances sometimes...is it musky? resinous? leather? I take a stab at it, but I'm often not really sure what the accord is. I look at the notes and either say...oh, that's what it is...or that's what it's supposed to be. But maybe it's not really achieving it. Sometimes we make assumptions based on the official notes that aren't necessarily accurate.
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    Default Re: Naming notes

    Yes, quite often one smells a (usually synthetic) molecule or accord, but, not being a perfumer, one doesn't associate it with a name.

    And reading the official notes is usually of little help because they are just marketing. Certain molecules are called whatever flower sounds best at the moment...

    cacio

  7. #7

    Default Re: Naming notes

    Guessing and also partly estimating that this may be 50%/50% situation.

    In some cases, fragrances can be so complex they can sway someone away and at the same time pretty much ramp up all enthusiasm, excitement, focus on a scent to the point of (paradoxically or not) eliminating or at least reducing any critical scent to being even marginally accurate at identifying certain individual note.

    While in other cases equally good and complex fragrance can still allow to personally concentrate on and quite correctly and precisely identify single notes in them even without having read the official manufacturer note descriptions, BN and/or other notes lists etc. that may or may nor eventually confirm the subjective perception and/or identification of these particular notes.

  8. #8
    Basenotes Junkie grayspoole's Avatar
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    Default Re: Naming notes

    This...

    Quote Originally Posted by cacio View Post
    Yes, quite often one smells a (usually synthetic) molecule or accord, but, not being a perfumer, one doesn't associate it with a name.

    And reading the official notes is usually of little help because they are just marketing. Certain molecules are called whatever flower sounds best at the moment...
    We can all read the published note lists, which really are nothing but marketing and (sometimes) misdirection. I always appreciate reviews and comments that describe the texture, structure, development, and smell of a scent in very immediate, personal, and experiential ways. The thinIf a published note is definitely present or absent, then learning that is useful information too, along with the note's intensity or quality. But reviews that somehow manage to locate every note in the published note list, no matter how obscure...yuzu! papyrus! litchi! orchid!...do not interest me.
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    Default Re: Naming notes

    I am so confused with those aromachemicals that should represent certain accord, but in reality smell nothing like it.
    Take for example Sauvage - it's totally synthetic, there is nothing in it, that would even distantly remind me of anything natural.
    Yet there are a bunch of reviews where people claim they smell bergamot, pepper, etc.
    Well.. that thing wasn't even withing 1km from bergamot or pepper!

    Usually I can detect a few notes in high quality, but simple fragrances - like Tom Ford Grey Vetiver.
    But there are some very complicated masterfully blended fragrances that I can't pick up a single note in - Creed Royal Mayfair, for example. The only thing I can say about it - it's floral.




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