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Thread: How to compose?

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  1. #1

    Default How to compose?

    I wish to design my perfume concept. I have materials and I've done a lot of work learning them. The problem is that no matter how hard I think when I put everything together it goes wrong.

    How can I take my formula with my rough amounts and materials and end up with something that smells good near my concept? How do I compose without going wrong?

  2. #2

    Default Re: How to compose?

    Practice. How long have you been at it? Sounds like you want to paint a master painting when you've just learned about paint itself.

  3. #3

    Default Re: How to compose?

    After countless trials and failures I have made 2-3 fragrances I would consider selling. It definitely takes a lot of time! One big thing I learned when composing is that, in my opinion, there are several high impact materials that can really make a difference. For instance, when working on a citrusy fragrance, after receiving great suggestions from many on here, I started playing around with some aldehydes, and strong green, grapefruit-type materials and they really made a huge difference. I didn’t use a lot of them, and tried different amounts in several trials, and got it to where I really, really liked the result.

    Interestingly enough, I have worked on a concept for three years and never achieved what I wanted to complete. Then, when working in another concept I created something that is unbelievably similar to what I initially wanted! This taught me that I still have to learn a lot about the materials and eventually good things will come, accidentally or not.

  4. #4

    Default Re: How to compose?

    Agreed completely with above and would like to add:

    Thinking is good but can do much only based on a lot of practice and experience.

    Comparing to music, someone who has spent a lot of time becoming very, very familiar with different chords and chord progressions can probably think about what he or she wants and be pretty accurate as to what the result will be. They'll "hear in their head" what how one thought is going to turn out before they do it. So they could potentially come up with a chord progression for a song entirely mentally, then go and play at an instrument and not need to change it. (Maybe they'll the melody or something else, but the chords were well composed in advance.)

    On the other hand, a beginner might read quite a number of things and mentally conceive of some things that really look like a good idea, but they don't have all the experience of actually doing and it does NOT come out as desired.

    Perfuming is harder. Much harder to "internally smell" untried combinations than it is to "internally hear" untried chords.

    Practice with materials and with smelling "deeper" various things you find, will slowly result in getting better visions of where you may want to aim and better ability to choose possibilities that could get you there.

    Also, technical techniques of how to try conceived possibilities very quickly can speed the process, but the internal mental part is the more important IMO.

    Same as music, the person who is very good knows what sound they will get before they get it, and how they go and get it depends on what they're internally hearing, while the less good know what they ought to do mechanically and then upon doing it they hear with the ears the result of that action. Very very different internally but the outside observer might not spot that things are being done fundamentally differently.

    Also but related, as well as getting the vision and having practiced enough to have a chance of realizing it, it's necessary to know one's limitations. At a given point in time, some goals will be unattainable and other goals will be attainable. Having a good idea which is which really helps. There are lots of things I know I can't do and are far out of reach, others than I know I have weaknesses in but could improve on (high impact materials is a great example, the selection I presently use is pretty small), and others that I know I can go fulfill that sort of vision. So picking the productive things to work on is very important. Usually, for example, having a goal of closely matching a great commercial perfume is not a productive goal for a beginner.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: How to compose?

    Paul Kiler
    PK Perfumes
    http://www.PKPERFUMES.com
    In addition to Our own PK line, we make Custom Bespoke Perfumes, perfumes for Entrepreneurs needing scents for perfumes or products, Custom Wedding Perfumes, and even Special Event Perfumes.

  6. #6
    Basenotes Junkie Dmitriy's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to compose?

    I absolutely agree with everything that was said above Bill Roberts and bsouthers. I also think that you first need to start making simple accords (which you will later use in your project) and practice with this until you are completely (absolutely) satisfied with the result with each of them. It doesn't matter how long it takes you.... Each such accord or base should already be harmonious and beautiful in itself and only from such components can you then make a composition that will satisfy you completely. In this craft, it is not possible jump over the steps . If you have a desire to create a beautiful perfume, this condition is simply necessary and inevitable

  7. #7

    Default Re: How to compose?

    Sorry I don't think I was as clear as possible. I just feel like I am missing something or some step. I feel intimidated. I'm not aiming for a commercial success I just would like to hit the concept and make something that smells good. I don't know what trial means or how to do it? I have materials, amounts, dilutions, scale. I know throwing it all in is not the answer but I'm not sure what the next step is?

  8. #8

    Default Re: How to compose?

    Quote Originally Posted by BébéNez View Post
    Sorry I don't think I was as clear as possible. I just feel like I am missing something or some step. I feel intimidated. I'm not aiming for a commercial success I just would like to hit the concept and make something that smells good. I don't know what trial means or how to do it? I have materials, amounts, dilutions, scale. I know throwing it all in is not the answer but I'm not sure what the next step is?
    The next step is to watch some videos and do some research. You cannot expect things to be spoon fed to you. If you cannot possibly think of how to run trials and test materials then this may not be the activity for you.

  9. #9

    Default Re: How to compose?

    Well I have watched a lot of videos, I have read a few books.

    Everyone smells things, taps the pipette on the bottle and then waxes on and on about metaphors and music and painting. Not the real physical process?

  10. #10

    Default Re: How to compose?

    You start by saying you can accomplish excellence. When you get humbled, you respect what you have mixed. Use it.
    You then proceed to something better. You set a goal... I am going to make something better than lux soap rose.
    You revisit your initial intent often. You define current intent.
    You learn the rules. You break the rules. You push limits.
    Now I am going to make something better than Avon Imari rose.
    You go back to rules, and rinse and repeat.
    If you hear metaphors... you might be in a rabbit hole. Get out.

  11. #11
    Basenotes Junkie Dmitriy's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to compose?

    Quote Originally Posted by BébéNez View Post
    Sorry I don't think I was as clear as possible. I just feel like I am missing something or some step. I feel intimidated. I'm not aiming for a commercial success I just would like to hit the concept and make something that smells good. I don't know what trial means or how to do it? I have materials, amounts, dilutions, scale. I know throwing it all in is not the answer but I'm not sure what the next step is?
    1. You need to start studying your materials: Put them on blotters, smell them and write down all your sensations about each smell (what type is it? Green? Fruity? Transparent or not? Is it a pear or an apple? How long does it stay on the blotter? Powdery? ) all your any impressions of him. 2. You need to start on the basis of your impressions from point No. 1, start mixing 2-3 materials together, looking for proportions and combinations that seem most harmonious and beautiful to you, and also write down all your impressions and these combinations. http://www.basenotes.net/threads/465...ht=Jean+Carles 3. Gradually during the study, you will see that all materials by type of smell are divided into large families: Flower, Fruit, Door, Special, and so on. and many subgroups. Make lists of families and which ones you think go well with each other. 4. Continue to do this for years, devoting your studies (mixing and finding proportions) as much time as possible and gradually you will make more discoveries in this craft, skill will appear and you can create something interesting.
    Last edited by Dmitriy; 10th September 2019 at 10:08 AM.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: How to compose?

    Have a look at PerfumersWorld.com. They run fee paying courses but you can access the foundation course for free on their website and on youtube.

  13. #13

    Default Re: How to compose?

    The overwhelming, so far as I know unanimous conclusion of those here who are more experienced is do not go to that place to learn perfuming methods or systems. It's freakishly far from reality and in many ways will send the learner far astray. An example would be classifying musks as urinous, which no one else in the world does, it's not productive, and it's misleading. This has long been hashed out and any who wish may search for information rather than it becoming a new topic distracting from original post.

    Odd that this would be a first post. The topic has a history both long and recent of being stir-the-pot at best, though of course a new person would not know that. Welcome to the forum if this is your first account here.

  14. #14

    Default Re: How to compose?

    Welcome, Amelie.

    I'd say Bill is overstating things: most of us are indifferent to them, beyond agreeing that they shouldn't teach measuring with a dropper since that's too imprecise (infinitely better to get a jewellery scale, even a cheap one). Their category system is unique to them, but then no two perfumers agree on one of those. Other than that, nothing about them is that unusual. What is true is that a handful of frequent posters have strong opinions about Perfumer's World and repeatedly argue about it until someone gets banned, so consider yourself forewarned that it's a red-flag topic.

    As other free systems go the one I'd recommend would be the one Dmitriy links to above.

  15. #15

    Default Re: How to compose?

    I agree my writing was imprecise: I meant not that the unanimous conclusion is to forcefully advise not to go, but so far as I know not a single experienced person here acts to recommend going there to learn perfuming methods. Example reasons why not are that they are not the methods used anywhere else and further, for those that have looked into them, muddy the waters greatly as in the above example and will lead to thinking errors. Control the language and thereby control the thought, as Orwell knew. There is also the reason you said, and at least one more.

    Part of an ambiguity that tends to exist in English, another example would be when one says "I don't like such and such" does it mean they are indifferent (as you aptly put it) or that they actively dislike? We often read it as meaning actively dislike, but it doesn't have to be the original intent. It's a strangeness of English that without the writer or speaker making quite deliberate effort, quite often it's ambigious whether meaning is absence of positive or existence of negative. And here my intent was not to suggest everyone is actively against. That would not be true, as you said. You read it the most reasonable way, it was my writing that was at fault. Happens all the time sadly, hence so many edits as has been correctly noted.

    Also as you said, Dmitriy's link to the Jean Carles system is very useful.

    I'll add my own twist which for me is more efficient: I like placing each material individually being worked with at the moment on typically four strips, at 1, 2, 4, and 8 drops per strip. Ideally, my dilution is such that 8 drops is a reasonable guess for a good strength.

    I can now extremely rapidly change what I'm holding and smelling to be anywhere from 1-15 drops for each material.

    If working on balance within a perfume rather than accord or base building, commonly I would also have one or more strips that had other accords already tentatively decided on, so on working on all the materials of a perfume I would not have for example four strips of 30 or more materials each: that would be absurd.

    A whole lot can be tested fast that way, more efficiently I think than Jean Carles teaches, but if so it's only as a technicality. The concept and the real learning is no different.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: How to compose?

    And then, I think Septime is understating things... LOL! but then, I have strong opinions.
    You can read my thoughts on this thread, about THAT place:
    http://www.basenotes.net/threads/461...Perfumersworld
    Paul Kiler
    PK Perfumes
    http://www.PKPERFUMES.com
    In addition to Our own PK line, we make Custom Bespoke Perfumes, perfumes for Entrepreneurs needing scents for perfumes or products, Custom Wedding Perfumes, and even Special Event Perfumes.

  17. #17

    Default Re: How to compose?

    Hi BebeNez,

    Basically what a 'trial' means is: mix a tiny batch of some materials. Dip a bit of absorbent paper and smell the result. Decide to add more X. Try the updated version on another paper. Decide on the next change. Keep going until you think it's just right. You go through a lot of 'drafts' in the trial-and-error phase, which is why people like to make very small samples with diluted materials so as not to waste too much. Remember to 'save your game' often: note down every change so that if you mess up or want to undo a change, you can pour it out (it's good to keep a big jar for this) and reconstruct the version you had right before that.

    The most basic work is that of hunting for accords: taking some A and adding B a little bit at a time until you find the ratio at which they harmonize. You know you've got it when, instead of smelling like A+B, it starts to smell like some kind of merged hybrid of the two - or sometimes like something totally different. Then, next time you use those materials together, you will already know roughly what relative amounts to use. The more materials you have, the more accords are waiting to be discovered. It's mostly trial and error but you can sometimes guess based on knowing their strengths and volatilities. Dmitriy's link is to a system for discovering accords. This site, which collects statistics about what ratios people typically report in published formulae, might also help: Perfumers Lab

    A common way to look at a formula is as a bunch of smaller formula put together. If I wanted a rosy-woody formula I would make the rose part and the wood part separately, then work at connecting them together with materials that went well with both. It's often easier to start with the heaviest part of the formula, get that figured out, and then work your way up to the lightest.

    You will find lots of these sub-component formulae - bases - in books like Poucher's "Perfumes, Cosmetics and Soaps" or Appell's "The Formulation & Preparation of Cosmetics, Fragrances & Flavors." (Poucher is available cheaply second-hand.) These are good for teaching 'everyday basics' that you can adjust to taste, like a beginner cookbook that teaches you how to make basic pancakes, meatloaf, spaghetti sauce etc. Trying each of these formulae one at a time, seeing e.g. how adding more ionones makes Basic Rose #2 different from Basic Rose #1, is a good way to find out what materials do in a blend beyond just contributing their own scent.

    You can also look up examples of complete formulae and practice recreating those. If you find something that sounds almost like what you're trying to achieve, it will give you an idea of where to start. Make up a test batch of the demo formula, then say "this is sort of like what I want, but I want my version to be more ..." and think about what you would need to change. You can find examples through Demonstration Formula Search.

    Does that help?

  18. #18

    Default Re: How to compose?

    Thank you, everyone, for the help and especially Septime. I will work on the links and resources provided and hopefully come back wiser and with something that smells good!! Thank you Bill for welcoming me. This is my first account but not my first post. I mostly just lurk and read and work on things. I know I'm still a baby nose




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