Notes and Accords

Notes and Accords.  2 minute read.  A review in 430 words. 

How can a perfume have an ocean accord? That can’t really be a thing?

Sample smells PW square

We’ve all read the reviews in the media – the latest perfume has notes of bergamot and a salty ocean accord. Someone is making this up as they go along??? Well, yes 😉  But you can make sense of it all. So I’ve written my snapshot of what Notes and Accords mean and I think you will understand it better afterwards.

Pyramid 2

All perfumes are made up of different ingredients. A perfume NOTE should be the simplest thing to describe, but it isn’t. ‘Note’ is just a phrase used to describe the general smell or scent or aroma, but it doesn’t necessarily just refer to single ingredients. For instance, you can talk about a bergamot note (a single ingredient) or you can equally talk about something having citrus notes or chocolate notes (lots of ingredients together that make up the smell that reminds your brain of chocolate). But people in the perfume industry don’t like to use the term ‘smell’, so ‘it smells like banana’ becomes ‘it has banana notes’ or ‘notes of banana’. Pretty simple.

OK, but then I read something about ACCORDS. What are they?
When you combine two or more NOTES that work well together, you create an ACCORD.

Like all nice things, the word ‘accord’ comes from French and means harmonious. Music terms are used a lot in perfume. Perfume doesn’t really have its own language – it borrows from sound a lot, so if you have the most basic clue about music you will get this.

C majorIf you ever play a child’s tiny music keyboard with one finger, you notice how you can make a recognizable ‘tune’, but it sounds a bit flat and not very melodious. If you play a few notes together at the same time, you can make something that sounds quite harmonious and nice – it just ‘works’ together. C sounds fine on its own, ditto G. But if you play C and E and G together at the same time, you get C major chord – it sounds nice and harmonious. It ceases to be each note on its own and becomes one harmonious thing. That’s it. That’s what it is in perfumery as well.  When you place TWO or more ‘notes’ together that work well, you create an ACCORD.

an ‘ocean accord’ means a list of ingredients used to make up this harmonious blend that smells ‘ocean-like’

And just like in music, when you put lots of accords together, lay a few notes over the top, play it all with a good rhythm, now you start to have something special. So when you hear someone speaking about an oceanic accord, it just means a list of different ingredients were used to make up this harmonious blend that smells ‘ocean-like’.

There are other ways to get an ‘oceanic accord’ and we talk about them under scent space technology later on. It’s that simple. Or not, as the case may be. We can get much more complicated later on, but that’s a good start.

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