My first encounter with an odor shop is at Librairie Avant-Garde down the parking lot of Wutaishan Stadium in Nanjing, China. And I was amazed. For those who are unfamiliar with the idea, an odor shop provides hundreds and thousands of perfumes, each conditioned artistically to represent a phrase. For example, the perfume labeled “Plane Trees after Rains” gives a scent of tree leaves blended with faint yet clearly distinguishable smells of evening flowers. The phrase does not have to be literary. In fact, most phrases are simple descriptions of the things, places or people they are associated with — one of the strongest perfumes that I specially remember is labeled “Italia”, and I have yet to inquire on its story.
However disparate music is as an art form, it shares something in common with the perfumes that allows the existence of melodic shops, or this “melodic museum” in particular. This commonality rests on our instinct to extract definitive elements from different scenarios of our lives. We might, from a distant memory, still smell our favorite food from childhood and see our moms working on it at the kitchen. Or, we might still hear our grandmas singing lullabies and feel the warmth of an early summer night when flipping through her album. These subtle elements are so real and tangible that they help to totally reconstruct everything as our memories thaw: we begin to feel the touches of our old dinner table, watch the slanted rays of sunlight on the creaking floor, or see the wrinkles on grandma’s forehead. We say that we have our long lost memories, but in fact they are so deeply ingrained in our brains that they are never lost at all. We have always remembered what we have been through, what we wanted, loved and treasured. Although the question as to how these memories can be evoked is one for the artists to answer.
This melodic museum imitates the spirit of odor shops by providing excerpts of music meant to represent different scenarios — places, seasons, things, and so on. The music pieces do not necessarily conform to established forms, and are by no means limited to one interpretation. I invite you to put on your headsets, close your eyes, and enjoy wherever your imaginations take you to. You might find certain pieces appealing, while others dull. Your imagination might coincide with mine, or you might find my titles not descriptive at all. This is art — you are the king of your senses, I invite you to comment on your sensations, praise or disapproval, or rants. After all, we are all right in our own worlds.