Musical Scents: On the Surprising Absence of Scented Musical/Auditory Events, Entertainments, and Experiences
The matching of scents with music is both one of the most natural (or intuitive) of crossmodal correspondences and, at the same time, one of the least frequently explored combinations of senses in an entertainment and multisensory experiential design context. This narrative review highlights the various occasions over the last century or two when scents and sounds have coincided, and the various motivations behind those who have chosen to bring these senses together: This has included everything from the masking of malodour to the matching of the semantic meaning or arousal potential of the two senses, through to the longstanding and recently-reemerging interest in the crossmodal correspondences (now that they have been distinguished from the superficially similar phenomenon of synaesthesia, with which they were previously often confused). As such, there exist a number of ways in which these two senses can be incorporated into meaningful multisensory experiences that can potentially resonate with the public. Having explored the deliberate combination of scent and music (or sound) in everything from “scent-sory” marketing through to fragrant discos and olfactory storytelling, I end by summarizing some of the opportunities around translating such unusual multisensory experiences from the public to the private sphere. This will likely be via the widespread dissemination of sensory apps that promise to convert (or translate) from one sense (likely scent) to another (e.g., music), as has, for example already started to occur in the world of music selections to match the flavour of specific wines.