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The Smell of Sound – Synesthesia

Could you imagine tapping your toe along to your favorite song or listening to a classical piano piece by Mozart and with each note that you hear, automatically and simultaneously associating a scent with the music?  We often consider how our sense of smell is directly linked to our emotions and memory but how often do we consider that for some, smell is also connected to sound!  The percentage of people who hold this special ability termed, synesthesia, is limited.  According to, “Synesthesia:  The Smell of Musical Notes,” by Nikos Dimitris Fakotakis, approximately four percent of the world population holds this unique capability.  Per the Evolving-Science article, some synesthetes can associate letters with colors or smell with musical notes.  Just as the science behind scent reveals that our olfactory response connects receptors in our nose to our brain through the limbic system, synesthesia is prompted by a limbic system connection as well.

The limbic system, which is one of the most primitive parts of our brain, controls memories, emotions, and motivations.  This powerhouse system also holds the ability to process sensory information.  Within synesthesia, when one sense is activated a secondary sense is automatically stimulated.  For example, the part of the brain that perceives and processes sound can be ‘cross-activated’ by the part of the brain that perceives smell.  

Can you imagine smelling each note of Beethoven’s, “Symphony No.5.,” or thinking of Madonna’s, “Like a Prayer,” every time you smell blueberry pancakes?  It is definitely hard to consider, but we are certain of one thing:  with all of the scents available at Nature’s Oil, we would never be left without a good comparison for description!

Famous Synesthetes:

  • Billie Eilish 
  • Duke Ellington
  • Billy Joel
  • Pharrell Williams
  • Vincent Van Gogh
  • Tori Amos

 

 

 

References: “Synesthesia:  The Smell of Musical Notes,” by Nikos Dimitris Fakotakis https://www.evolving-science.com/information-communication/synesthesia-smell-musical-notes-00688

“9 Famous Artist Who Have Synesthesia and How It Afftected Them,” by Tevor English https://interestingengineering.com/9-famous-artists-who-have-synesthesia-and-how-it-affected-them

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