Reported studies about crossmodal correspondences between music and smell basically focus on individual musical parameters. An experiment was carried out to explore such correspondences emerging from musical improvisation elicited by 20 olfactory stimuli, which allows the study of multiple musical parameters at the same time. A group of 14 pianists was asked to smell each stimulus and to play a short free improvisation inspired by it. From each improvisation, 14 musical parameters were extracted. The same odorants were also described by a panel of 15 volunteers. The main outcomes were the following: 1) The mean sensory ratings on a scale of fresh vs. warm appeared correlated with the average pitch of the improvisation. 2) The four odorants perceived as somewhat camphoraceous like lavender and mint yielded more non legato/staccato articulation or rests. 3) The feminine odor character was negatively correlated with the ambitus of the improvisation, defined as the difference between the highest and lowest note, and was positively correlated with pitch-class entropy. 4) Pleasantness yielded a negative correlation with pitch-class entropy and dissonance, being positively correlated with the lowest note. The first outcome is consistent with earlier studies, but outcomes 2–4 were novel findings.
The Music of Perfume: Crossmodal Correspondences Between Musical Features and Olfactory Perception
Bruno Mesz, Nicolás Gorla, Manuel Zarzo; The Music of Perfume: Crossmodal Correspondences Between Musical Features and Olfactory Perception. Music Perception 1 December 2023; 41 (2): 110–131. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/mp.2023.41.2.110
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