Scenterprises: The Relationship Between Music and Fragrance

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From terms like notes, harmony, composition, symphony, blends, chords, and even “dissonance” music mirrors fragrance in a multitude of manners. Below Sue Phillips – President and CEO of Scenterprises™ a perfume expert featured in Crain’s New York (, waxes poetic on the relationship between MUSIC and FRAGRANCE.

As a fragrance expert, what relationship do you see between fragrance and music?

Sue Phillips:  In my opinion there is a strong sensory relationship between fragrance and music (and even Art) yet people don’t really think about that! I am passionate about “celebrating the senses” and believe firmly in the magic and mystery of fragrance as well as in the beauty of music and art!  For example, firstly:  the vocabulary is similar between them… We talk about notes, harmony, composition, a fragrance symphony, blends, chords, and even “dissonance” in both music and fragrance. Similarly, the Construction of fragrance and music is parallel..both have a beginning, middle and end..  Classical music has an overture, main theme and finale and Fragrance is constructed with top notes, has a middle or main theme and ends with deeper base notes! (Art, too, has a foreground, middle ground and background). Both fragrance and music stimulate the senses and trigger memories and emotions..however our Sense of Smell is our strongest sense after Sight!  

I also believe that “Major” musical notes and chords “color our senses”. Think about the fragrance and musical notes which come to mind when we experience bright pinks, sparkling yellows, vibrant reds, mellow blues and bold greens, and luscious purples?? To me those are the fragrance notes consisting of beautiful florals, lively citrus, spicy,gourmand fruity, herbaceous accords which reflect the MAJOR keys and connote “happy,bright,positive” notes.  Whereas “minor” chords are “sadder” and more subdued and we think of muted deep earth tone colors and fragrance accords of woody, musky, amber, patchouli,mossy fragrance accords. 

If this relationship were studied further, what effect do you think it would have on consumer’s understanding of fragrance? 

Sue Phillips:  The idea of correlating and studying the relationship of Music, Fragrance and even Art to stimulate the “Scentsory” palate is a compelling way to produce more interesting, unusual, distinctive approaches with fragrance combinations that stretch the imagination. Think about what would Stravinsky’s”Firebird” smell like? To me I see Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” spanning four major fragrance families….FRESH,FLORAL, WOODY and ORIENTAL … And each one is a symphonic and fragrance  masterpiece in its own right!  Even other musical genres such as hip hop, folk, Latin, pop and rock give perfumers great opportunities to create innovative fragrance “melodies”..something I would love to see more of!

About Sue Phillips:

Phillips formed SCENTERPRISES ™, a global marketing & branding consulting company in 1990, and has developed innovative fragrances for companies such as Avon, Banana Republic home products, Bath & Body Works, Burberry, Trish McEvoy, Origins and others.  Sue’s company, also presents Custom Perfume Seminars & Workshops and multi-‘scentsory’ events for Corporate Teambuilding, Customer Appreciation Programs, Bridal Events and Perfume Parties.

Phillips’ most recent endeavors include the collaboration with TELEFLORA to create four Fragrance Bouquets to match their 2014 Mother’s Day Floral Bouquets, gifted to the top beauty and lifestyle editors, as well as offering a unique “Fragrance Bar” at The Girls Lounge in Las Vegas for IPSOS where she created custom fragrances for 200 of the top CEO’s, CMO’s of major corporations who loved their creations. 

Reprinted with permission by Scenterprises

Cover Photo by Buck Ennis

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