Bringing the Text to Life
We all have a smell organ. We call it a nose. Proboscis. Schnauze. Honker.
For Dr. Septimus Piesse, a French chemist, the Smell Organ was something else. He believed that simply listening to the enrapturing tones of a church organ was not enough. Much more inspiring and thrilling, he felt, was to experience an entirely new organ: One that translates an opus into odor.
Dr. Piesse carefully plotted a range of notes, and assigned heavier odors to the low notes and sharp, pungent odors to the high notes. A bass clef D would emit the smell of vanilla, while a treble clef B would shoot out peppermint. He hoped that the odors would blend harmoniously in soft, dreamy compositions, while the smells would be disagreeable in more discordant works.
It gave whole new meaning to the expression, "This music stinks."
Another innovative instrument was developed in Brussels back in 1549, and was designed to be played by a bear. Called the Cat Piano and played by a musical bear, it was an instrument in...