Blending Fragrance Chords: Creating Your Perfect Scent

For over thirty years I’ve played piano, which must explain why I love thinking of blending fragrances in musical terms. Just like in music, fragrances have notes that range from high to low, and creating a balanced fragrance chord is a great way to achieve a complex, interesting blend.

I recently made a scent which I dedicated to my daughter, called “Apple of My Eye” for my Etsy shop. I started simple, with three scents, wanting to keep the apple dominant and make a pure and fun fragrance blend. It contains a fragrance chord with a top, a mid-range, and a base note. Apple is the major fragrance, which is more of a top note, and it also contains a smooth mid-range floral ylang-ylang, and just a dash of a base patchouli scent. I experimented with different amounts of each and finally arrived at a fragrance I really enjoyed.

To get started making a fragrance, here is a list of top, mid-range, and base fragrance notes to make “chords” with. Also, you can experiment with making chords within each group, as well as making broad “chords” containing fragrances from each of the groups. Playing around with chords is a great way to get an idea of how fragrances work. Feel free to experiment, remember to have fun with it, and find a blend that you love. I have been surprised to find how much I like, and also dislike, certain combinations!

There are many factors to consider when choosing fragrances, but I want to focus on fragrance ranges and chords here.

The top notes are usually invigorating and the first scents you smell when a perfume is sprayed; then the mid-range scents are known as the “heart” of the perfume and are often smooth, evolving scents; and the base notes are underlying scents that stay with you the longest.

Here are some examples of popular fragrances to work with, categorized and listed from top to base notes.

Top Notes:

  • Clean
  • Citrus
  • Ocean
  • Mints
  • Ginger
  • Non-citrus fruits
  • Neroli
  • Creams

Mid-range Notes:

  • Green
  • Herbal
  • Sweet florals
  • Richer florals
  • Rose
  • Nuts
  • Spice
  • Smoke

Base Notes:

  • Animalic
  • Francincense
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Moss
  • Wood
  • Earth
  • Amber
  • Musk

This is not a hard and fast rule for notes, because some of these types of scents can belong to different “groups.” For instance, consider the wood group: rosewood can fall into the top note category, while other soft woods like sandalwood can be wonderful heart mid-scents.

A balanced chord is thought to contain at least three different notes. In my newest one, I did use one from each group listed above, but you can also make a chord using three notes from the same section if you like. After all, Chanel No. 5 has a mid-range heart scent ylang-ylang as its top note. So be open to different blends, and you’re likely to have fun and find some fascinating combinations!

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