Wine and sound at the World Science Festival

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Jo will be presenting a wine and music masterclass at the World Science Festival in Brisbane on March 25th. As well as exploring the fascinating synergies between sound and taste, she will be exploring some of the cutting edge crossmodal science behind these sometimes surprising connections.

For more information and to purchase tickets, check the World Science Festival website.

Composing music for wine

New Zealand winery, Crown Range Cellar commissioned me to create a series of pieces of music specifically composed to complement its wines. The project employs both my own studies into the way perceptions of taste can be influenced by sound, and the current findings of scientific research into crossmodal correspondences. In the presentation on sound and wine that I am making at Pinot Noir NZ 2017 in Wellington, NZ, delegates will be able to experience the synergies between the music I composed for Crown Range Cellar Signature Pinot Noir and the wine itself.

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The piece for the Crown Range Cellar Signature Pinot Noir was inspired by its rich and silky notes. A legato melody is played by a cello over a soundscape created from field recordings of the rich but bright tones of bells and the higher pitched sounds of birdsong. The deeper notes bring out the savoury character, while the treble of the birds enhance the aromatics and freshness, and the bell drone its smoothness.

 

For the Drowsy Fish Pinot Gris, I collaborated with electronic pop artist, Misfit Mod. The resulting music is an upbeat track with an ethereal pop sensibility that echoes the fresh and bright character of the wine.

The hulusiTo accompany the light and bright China Girl Central Otago Pinot Noir, I  collaboration on a piece of music with Malcolm Riddoch. This features the smooth timbre of the traditional Chinese Hulusi flute that suits the supple texture of the wine, while the wine’s freshness is accentuated by the high-pitched backing to the traditional Dizi flute. The choice of instruments are also linked to both the wine and the label’s Chinese roots.

You can listen to the music and obtain more information about the wines on the Crown Range Cellar website.

 

Mixing things up

 

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Swotting up with IAO’s perfume library

Having only had one fairly brief foray into making perfume in the past, I was interested to see how I’d fare with more formal training. I hoped that my experience in assessing wine and some blending experience in that realm would stand me in good stead for my residency at the Institute for Art and Olfaction (IAO).

 

Before I started, I had an idea of what I wanted to create to evoke the imagery of La Chevelure, the Charles Baudelaire poem that I was working with. The perfume would have to convey three ideas: that of the sea, a dry fragrant forest and the exotic. But where to start?

 

IAO’s Saskia Wilson-Brown suggested my first task should be nosing through the samples in the perfume organ. As sniffing everything would prove impossible, and likely lead to temporary anosmia, I check out the vials that hold scents I think might suit my brief. The organ’s aromas provided an intriguing experience – from Cashmeran with its wood earthy almost fungal notes – that I earmarked for my fragrance – to more divisive aromas such as Indolene – redolent of decay with a whiff of the faecal – not appropriate for this piece but something I’d like to experiment with in the future!

 

After assembling my aromatic palette I set to work making the three “accords” that would combine to create my final smell-track – these are a number of aroma “notes” that are combined to create an effect akin to a musical chord. First up was the wood, which given there are so many woody extracts available, I thought would be the easiest to start with.

 

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My top four wood accord blends – but which one to choose?

The process was one of trial and error, with each version’s ingredients and their proportions noted down for reference. After nine attempts I reached a combination that I was pleased.

 

This first attempt at fragrance mixing hadn’t been quite as hard as I’d feared. I’d made swift progress, possibly due to being smell-fit from my wine assessments. But I also certainly noticed similarities between this and my experiences of wine blending and even with the mixing and layering of the recordings in my music too.

 

With and with a decidedly worn out snout I called it a day, then well into the evening I was still haunted by – albeit pleasant – aromas of earth and wood.

In residence at the Institute for Art and Olfaction

IMG_1869When I heard about Los Angeles’ Institute for Art and Olfaction a few years back it seemed like a dream establishment in which to explore the exciting potential of olfactory art. Now this month I’m its resident artist, learning about creating aromas to integrate into my multisensory practice with the resulting work opening at its gallery on 25th August.

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I have IAO director and founder Saskia Wilson-Brown as my tutor and the institute’s extensive perfume organ at my disposal. These first days I’ve been sniffing my way though the collection and selecting aromas I may want to work with as the aromatic element of my project at the space.

 

IMG_1873This work is inspired by the poetic imagery of the symbolist poets, and more specifically La Chevalure, a poem by Charles Baudelaire. The multisensory work I’m creating, like those of the symbolists, draws on the interactions between sound and scents to evoke states of mind. However, in this work, this state will be created not by words but by the sounds and scents themselves in an immersive sensory environment that sets out to blur the boundaries between its own artifice and the subconscious reactions provoked by the participant’s sensory responses.

 

As in my past work – in which I have created installations applying contemporary scientific knowledge of the psychological interactions of certain sounds and tastes -in this new installation I’m again applying some of the findings of current research into crossmodal correspondences between sound and odours.

 

Surrounded by so many intriguing aromatic components I’m feeling in my element and hoping this bodes well for my perfume blending skills!

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