Perfume organ

The perfume organ, also called an octophone (unrelated to the mandola-related octophone), was an instrument invented by the French chemist Septimus Piesse, in which the keys of a piano activated one of 46 different odors.[1]

In 1857, in his book The Art of Perfumery, Piesse used music to describe how notes and smells can work together: "There is, as it were, an octave of odors like an octave in music; certain odors coincide, like the keys of an instrument."[2]

As Sadakichi Hartmann noted in 1913, the keys of the octophone "are complementary and can be combined to harmonies as sounds to a musical chord. It is a valuable guide on a quasi scientific basis for the manufacturers of perfumery, for it is only necessary to strike a chord on the piano, and to know what odors the respective notes of the chord represent, to arrive at the suggestion for some new bouquet."[1] Hartmann was skeptical of the value of the perfume organ for "aesthetical" experiments, as "the affinity between sounds and odors is purely speculative".[1]

In 1922, the magazine Science and Invention had an article on a new, silent take on the perfume organ.[3] Instead of attempting harmony of music and scent, the keys on the keyboard of the Science and Invention version played only notes of perfume. There does not appear to be any evidence that this particular smell organ was ever constructed.[4]


  1. ^ a b c Hartmann, Sadakichi (1913). "In Perfume Land". The Forum. L (50), July 1913 - December 1913: 271.
  2. ^ G. W. Septimus Piesse, The Art of Perfumery And Methods of Obtaining the Odors of Plants  Philadelphia: Lindsay and Blakiston, 1857; Ebook: Project Gutenberg, July 28, 2005, [EBook #16378].
  3. ^ "The Dead media Project:Working Notes:06.9". Dead Media. Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  4. ^ "The Olfactory Organ". Pacific Standard. Retrieved July 21, 2018.