Fragrance Composition: Exploring Base Notes August 15 2014

Before we can hand-pour any of our Australian-made Aroma Reeds, natural wax Scented Candles, Room Mists and Aromatic Oils, we need the obvious: our proprietary custom blends of fine fragrance and essential oils.

The composition of fragrance is not unlike the composition of music, albeit that of the melodious and harmonious kind. Where dissonance is used to create tension in music, such tensions aren't sought in perfumery.

But therein lies an important challenge to the perfumer. As cautioned by "Mr Nose' Jean Carles, founder of the Roure perfumery school in Grasse in 1940s, "The perfumer should be totally unprejudiced, should entirely disregard his own taste...  He should be aware there are no incompatibilities in perfumery, that apparently clashing materials will blend successfully on addition of another product playing the part of a binding agent, making their odors compatible."

Perfume notes are classified as top, middle or base notes depending on their volatility ~ the speed and velocity with which they diffuse into the air.  When you smell a fragrance directly in the bottle, the top notes are the first you first encounter, before moving into the middle or 'heart' of the scent, then descending finally to the base notes.

While we detect fragrance notes from the top down, when creating a fragrance, it's built from the base notes up, creating perfume chords of a number of different essences or notes, some dominating, others supporting and all dominant notes combining to fashion a harmonious whole.

Base notes are the deepest, most mysterious and tenacious of perfume ingredients, going back to ancient times, when camels carried them along the spice routes and essential oils were used to embalm royalty.  Most base notes are so powerful, they would verge on overwhelming if you were to sniff them straight from their individual bottles.  Mostly dark green or brown with a thick, syrup-like consistency, they generally come from roots, resins, lichens, saps, barks and grasses.

Typical base notes include:

  • sandalwood aphrodisiac, calming
  • galbanum green woody balsamic
  • frankincense soft, incense-like and undoubtedly the most important perfume substance in ancient times
  • tobacco lends a dry note and useful in balancing the cloying sweetness of some florals
  • ambrette seed from the hibiscus plant and known as the vegetable equivalent of musk
  • benzoin seductive, sensual, blends with almost anything
  • vetiver heavy-earthy "wet soil", grounding, blending
  • patchouli herbaceous, earthy and dry, woody-spicy
  • Bourbon vanilla rich and sweet, woody, balsamic-tobacco

When composing a base note chord, usually this is made of two to five ingredients, one prominent with the others adding and supporting.  Here's an example of a base note chord from 'Essence & Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume' by Mandy Aftel: "AMBER: 30 drops labdanum, 120 drops benzoin, 6 drops vanilla"

Once a base note chord is built, other chords are then layered to create the scent symphony to apply over pulse points or mist and walk through {personal perfumes} ~ or offer up in diffusers, scented candles, room mists and aromatic oils as we do with our Jaye Niemi luxury home fragrances.

Best of all?  You just need to open the bottle or light the wick, close your eyes and inhale, enjoy being taken on a scent journey ~ and let us take care of the creation process for you.

Unleash your scents of elegance ... X

Shop Jaye Niemi is your home of luxury interior perfume products made in Australia ::: Aroma Reeds : Scented Candles : Room Mists : Aromatic Oils : Certified Organic Bath + Body