How to Identify Cross-Modal Correspondences

“II est des parfums frais comme des chairs d’enfants,
Doux comme les hautbois, verts comme les prairies…”

There are perfumes as fresh as children’s flesh,
as soft as oboe tones, and meadow-green…
-Baudelaire (translation mine)

A truly coherent synthesis of scent, timbre, and color would either require either 1) cross-cultural studies of universals in phonochromia, chromaphonia, osmochromia, chromosmia, osmophonia, and phonosmia, or 2) a well-ratiocinated analysis that accounts for all the perceptual attributes of color (hue, lightness, and saturation), the acoustic parameters of the timbral quality produced by an instrument (spectral envelope, tonal character and noise, ADSR envelope, prefix and suffix, formant-glide, and micro-intonation), and the application of a theory of scent, the latter of which would perhaps be somewhat difficult, considering that there is currently no consensus as to how scents are created.

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