SCENTED LIFE - SOUND
This sound piece, composed by the talented musician Margarida Alves Gato and I, is the translation of four fragrances. The composition considers the complexity and difficulty of describing odours through words and seeks different ways of communicating olfactory impressions, one way less imbued in cultural constraints and another that acknowledges our cultural biases.
Olfactory experiences seem to have many crossmodal associations with hearing, for example, people often link bass sounds to base notes (resins), and tremble sounds to top notes (citrus), these enigmatic interplay between sounds and smells has intrigued researchers for quite some time and remains unexplained still. These crossmodal associations are shaped by a variety of factors, each providing different insights into different associations, but it's essential to note they are not merely metaphorical or arbitrary and go beyond subjective judgment. With this in mind, the sound piece was composed by using two translation methods:
The first method attempts to develop a language independent of our cultural background and speculates upon the Vibrational Theory of Luca Turin. Considering Luca Turin's theory is correct and
that we can perceive odorant molecules due to their molecular vibration, I took the molecular vibration of the raw materials that make up the four fragrances and converted them into audible sine waves. Hear below the sound waves of the raw materials used in the composition of the fragrances.
The second method takes into consideration the enigmatic crossmodal association between sound and smell and embraces our biases and cultural belief systems as a means to acknowledge the complexity of describing odours. In collaboration with Margardia Alves Gato, we have translated our subjective and unique impressions of the four fragrances into sounds, taking different instruments, timbres, rhythms and melodies. I leave open the question of whether some of the associations that Margarida and I had could be universal to all cultures or whether they are restricted to our Western cultures, unfortunately, the major and predominant culture in odour description nowadays.
The complex final sound piece is a combination of the two methods and pictures an overall impression of the odours. Leaving space for a more methodological and scientific alternative and a more subjective and emotional approach.
Find more information on this subject and others in my little book.