Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sali Corresponds With Luca Turin

Remember how I'd written two posts below about the person on the forum who'd nixed the idea of vibrational frequencies and pitch in sound and scent and how they might correlate, who didn't tell me why what I wrote didn't jive? Well, I contacted her this morning asking why and whether she had another theory, and lo and behold, this person is author Tania Sanchez who's working on a book with biophysicist Luca Turin. The book is called "Perfumes: The Guide" and it's to be published in 2008. The lovely Tania gave me his contacts and Mr. Luca Turin was kind enough to write me back with all the info I was hoping to find on the subject and more. This is what he had to say about the matter:

"There is no systematic difference in the shapes of vibrational spectra of topnotes and drydown notes. All molecules composed of C, H O, N and S, as 99% of odorants and flavorants are, vibrate in the range of 500 to 1800 wavenumbers to roughly the same extent. The higher the molecular weight, the more vibrational modes a molecule will have, but the frequencies of the modes will still fall in the same region as those of lighter molecules. Volatility determines whether a molecule is a topnote or drydown note, and it is inversely related to molecular weight."

Obviously, since I'm not a biophysicist, all this is way over my head, but I think I'm starting to get a couple of things--first of all, it sounds to me like wavenumbers in scent and wavelengths in music determine their forms and amplitude more than their pitches--or rather, that we can't see their pitches by looking at a graph. In scent, the more vibrational modes (that's a new term for me), the higher the molecular weight (since it's inversely related to volatility), so, would the note smell higher-pitched if it weighed more? More to me usually indicates volume, so this is why I think maybe this "more vibrational modes" has to do roughly with the intensity or character of the scent if not their pitches. In music and sound, you can see a sound on a graph indicating what the sound looks like in sound wave form--a piano, for instance, provided it's allowed to sustain, looks like a sharp attack followed by a smooth slope downwards. The sound wave of a crash cymbal when it's hit looks very jagged (there are also different types of wave forms that determine the characters of sounds).

Pitch is determined by the frequency or the number of cycles per second, therefore A440. But since there are vibrational frequencies within scent, even though they are very slow, couldn't they be measured so we can determine their pitches that way, and is that related to volatility?

Sound and scent both have overtones and harmonics so why not the cycle of fifths? OK, colors don't work in exactly the same way, either, but there must be order of some kind at work...Between MIDI and headspace technology, there's really a lot music and perfume have in common. To be continued...