Wednesday, March 9, 2011

You go right ahead and take that tone with me: Caron L'Accord Code 119

The cello, played well, is one of my favorite musical instruments.  Okay, fine, that's almost an unnecessary equivocation; I mean, how many instruments do you enjoy when poorly played?  I point that out, though, because while almost every one of my favorite instruments in terms of sound requires being played "well," there is an exception:  the sound of a simple flute.  (As in a pan, or three holed wooden.)  But my trinity of saxophone, cello, and guitar?  No hackers, please.

Any one of those, played the right way, is capable of seducing me.  Flat out.  Because if you can play it well, a) you've got talent (an intrigue), b) you've got expression (an intrigue), c) and your instrument is doing something to me that is beyond my brain (an entanglement).  And that something beyond my brain involves the resonance of the sound, the aspect of the tone, the comfort of the register...high enough to perhaps modulate and perhaps "say" things, but low enough to simply go there.  As if the sounding board is in me.  Harmonic vibrations and all.

In the case of the cello, this is a significant trick.  Drag horsehair across a string, and you are likely to produce a sound whose effect is just shy of nails on a chalkboard.  (Sit down already if that sound doesn't bother you.  It sends shivers down my spine even as it rakes bony fingers up my back skin, and makes my innards cringe, and my head try to close the security shutters.  It is BAD.)  Then there's the issue of playing in tune.  Forget rhythm and expression for the moment.  What I'm pointing out here is that the same case of wood that can be the instrument of seduction can also be an instrument of torture.
photo by Tristen K

In other words, there is the ability to use the power of those f-holes for good or for evil.  (By which I assign the sexual consorting to "good" and the fleeing from the room in distress as "evil," so if for some reason your moral code switched that around, please adjust your dial.)

I think it's rather the same when you threaten to assemble some rose, some blackberry, and a "vanilla/heliotrope/musk base."  Were I to see these notes, with the accompanying phrase, I'd turn and hightail it to the next county.  Because my assumption would be the net effect would be evil.  (Which in this moment is NOT a good thing.)

Fortunately, nobody told me what was in L'Accord (Code 119) when I first smelled it.  And I was (and likely still am) too much of a rube to know.  Therefore, I was able to experience it as Rostropovich behind the cello, and not a drunken frat boy who once mock-played a fiddle in a production of Oklahoma.

Sure, say it has fruit and flower.  But say they are presented dusty, and somewhat darkly.  Allow that while it is rather dense, it will not suffocate.  Point out there is a rasp throughout that will never, ever let it be treacly.  Say that the musks, if there be musks, are not those white things that are detergenting so many perfumes lately.  They are the dusk of musks, the ones that start to reach down into the animal register without getting base {ha ha! a pun!!} and make sure there is a bountiful harmonic range.  Make sure that it is made clear that the patch is the kind of patch that makes Coromandel "al dente" but doesn't suggest a head shop.

Make sure, in other words, to say that Richard Fraysse has used his power for good, and not for evil.

Because me, who shies away from patch, who generally likes vanilla dry or bourbon-y, who can handle musk only in judicious amounts, who does indeed like "amber" (but finds that to be a term with range), who can find jasmine piercing and rose cloying, is happy when I wear this.  Musically, L'Accord has the register of an alto blended with a tenor, the warmth of the wood (with the addition of lower registers in its resonance), the tension of the vibrating string that doesn't irritate but rather somehow stirs even as you tacitly sit and take in the whole.

If you were here yesterday, you know that in the interest of self-preservation, I just spent nearly a week without perfume.  I am not one inclined to wear perfume when ill; definitely not for certain types of ill.  Given my old relationship with perfume, whenever I return from a scent-free period, I am loathe to start with a "challenge."  It occured to me that the raspy chewy goodness of L'Accord might be a bit much to launch into.  But I had no choice.  I needed to revisit, to make sure I didn't miss anything.  So, with a bit of a wince, and a pair of nostrils ready to close up, I spritzed.


Like meeting up with an old friend and picking up after a long interim had passed.  Perhaps on your way to meet them, you worry whether things will still be comfortable, maybe even consider the possibility you will no longer enjoy their company.  But once you get there, no awkwardness at all.  You pick up where you left off, and immediately slip into a comfortable zone.

So that's what I got:  a full package of pleasing texture (raspy bits over chewiness) and plush depth (layers, such layers), delivered in the right register.  I'm co-posting with Marina over at Perfume Smellin' Things today, so if you haven't been there yet, go take a look and see what she has to say about Caron's L'Accord and fruity florals.

I hold her accountable for that picture, by the way.  I went off searching for a sensuous, artful, loving picture of a cello, one which centered around the bridge, allowing you to feel the density and follow the grain of the wood, notice the tension on the strings, sense the frail aspects of each individual horsehair in the bow but see how together they formed something which would goad the string into making sound.  A visual representation of that idea of pulling together illogical ingredients for a pleasing result.

I ended up with a scantily clad willowy brunette draped around a centaur cello.  Somehow, it seemed right.

What's that?  I can't hold Marina accountable for my dip into those prurient waters?  Fine.  I'll blame the remaining waft of L'Accord.  Which, by the way, lasts and lasts....*ahem.*  Right.  As I was saying...not Marina's fault.  But I'm still holding her feet to the fire for a few perfume purchases I've made over the years.  


Marina said...

Fine, blame me for everything! :) I hope you are feeling better, Shelley. I completely agree that everything in this scent, including fruits, is presented darkly (and ripely), and I think that's why I like it.

Tammy said...

Oooh, you had me at dusty and dark. Hoping this is a throwback to that musty Caronade I adore.

Love the cello, love your blog!

ScentScelf said...


Hee. ;) I am better, thank you; all the better to enjoy my non-fruity floral fruity floral.

BTW, you've got me thinking about the pineapple; I still don't smell it, but I *do* get an effect that has the density and the texture and the "spot in my nose-ness" of pineapple. Just not outright "hey, pineapple"--which I can't be anosmic to in general, because I do smell pineapple in Colony.

Gee, something else to ponder....

ScentScelf said...


Thanks for dropping in and leaving a note! Now *you've* got me this a nod in the direction of the Caron base, the mousse de saxe? I will say, it's a lot closer than a Montaigne or a Lady Caron, that's for sure.

Gonna come back on that one. But I am comfortable saying I feel a sympathetic vibration to it. :)

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post! I adore the Cello, I always wanted to play it, but had to learn the violin and later I switched to viola, to get a little closer to that intriguing tenor range that makes us both shiver. ;)
Intriguing perfume too!

Sports Jerseys said...
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ScentScelf said...


Thanks! Ah, the viola, playing ambassador between the violins and cellos...and reading in C-clef. I get a kick out of peeking onto the viola stands and trying to read their music when I'm not busy. Because I am so awful at it, it keeps me entertained during long rest breaks. ;)

Will be curious to hear your thoughts if/when you get a chance to play with L'Accord.

Musette said...

Wow. What an evocative post! I, too, love the cello (I think it must be universally loved - it is so gorgeous - and Yo Yo Ma sure sexed it up for the world :-)

Anyhoo, I have yet to try L'Accord. A lovely, generous pal gave me a little hit of it but I was in unbelievable agony, sitting, twisted like a pretzel on a heating pad, in her kitchen, downing Aleve and trying to figure out how to came home with me (how I got home that evening is still a mystery) but slipped between the accordion folds of my mind. I must retrieve it and sample.


ScentScelf said...

Thanks, Musette! Yo-Yo did indeed...though I have to say Jacqueline du Pre did a fine job of communicating the physicality of the experience. I had two tracks ready to attach, Rostropovich and du Pre, but ended up not, as I was being particular and could not find a piece that said "L'Accord" (would need to be a cello featured in front of a larger chamber orchestra, and a piece with medium but pushing tempo).

That must have been so awful for you, in that agony. I'm betting the friend was feeling your pain, too. Do go sample when you have a chance. Do tell what you think.

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