The Smell Organ

January 25, 2007

The Athanasius Kircher Society has brought to our attention a “smell organ” — no, not your nose, an instrument designed by chemist and perfumist G. W. Septimus Piesse. [Now THAT’s a name!] Convinced that music could be “translated” into scent, he designed, or didn’t design, “…a row of perfume atomizers actuated by piano keys. The odors were projected towards the listener/smeller by a steady stream of compressed air.” It is unclear whether the actual instrument was ever built. Any takers?

Check out the smell organ’s scent/pitch correspondence. I was happy to see that one of my fave scents is patchouli, or low C.


C patchouli
D vanilla
E clove bark
F benzoin
G frangipane
A storax
B clove
C sandalwood
D clematis
E rattan
F castorium
G pergulaire
A balsam of Peru
B carnations and pinks
C geranium
D heliotrope
E iris
F musk
G Pois de senteur
A balsam of tolu
B cinnamon
C rose


C rose
D violet
E cassia
F tuberose
G orange flower
A new mown hay
B arome
C camphor
D almond
E Portugal
F jonquil
G syringa
A tonka bean
B mint
C jasmine
D bergamot
E citron
F ambergris
G magnolia
A lavender
B peppermint
C pineapple
D citronel
E vervain
F civet

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