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The blue note, the essence of blues music

Accord, notes, organ, composition… Music and perfume share a lot more than semantic chemistry. They have in common an intangible character and a power to give rise to emotions, between light and darkness, joy and melancholy… Melancholy, a feeling expressed so well by the blue note in jazz and blues. But, what is the blue note ? And is it possible to transpose it in a perfume ?

From New-Orleans to Nashville. Night drive. 5:47 AM. Day is barely breaking over the Mississippi Delta. The radio plays a blues. The blue note creates this magical contrast between light and darkness, joy and melancholy.” It’s in this travel memory filled with music counted by Pierre Guguen to Amélie Bourgeois that Vétiver Overdrive unfolds. An ode to the blue note, icon of african-american music at the dawn of the 20th Century.

At the roots of blues.

The blue note is a note played in blues and jazz with a semitone lowering at the 3rd, 5th, and 7th degrees of the scale. It is most often a diminished fifth that gives its musical color to blues, later taken up by jazz.

Part of the history of the blue note finds its origin in work songs. Musical legacy of slavery, those chants without any musical background are a symbol of a search of harmony and unity. Vibrations claiming suffering, pain and resilience when faced with injustice. A powerful symbolic incarnating a refuge from oppression. These dissonant notes, neither major nor minor, create tension and imbalance, giving a singular emotion and interest to the music. 

The term blue is the abbreviation of the idiom “blue devils”, meaning dark thoughts. Blues and jazz musicians and singers play it to express their nostalgia or sadness.

Blues and jazz signature note.

This blue note colors the most beautiful jazz and blues themes, an extra little bit special that comes from the heart of jazzmen.

Miles Davis and John Coltrane were among the kings of the blue note. The masterful alterations of their scales almost encircle their music with a mystical dimension. The blue note can also be found at the heart of songs like Sweet Home Chicago by Robert Johnson or Summertime by George Gershwin.

This very blue note later gave its name to the legendary Blue Note label as well as a famous New-York jazz club that opened in Greenwich Village in 1981, an institution in its own right.

The blue note, from music to perfume.

The challenge was to translate this blue note into a fragrance, to restore its tension effect into the Vétiver Overdrive formula. Vetiver became very obvious early on because this earthy root resonates with blues.

A vetiver that perfumer Amélie Bourgeois lightened through the geranium’s freshness to craft a contrast proper to the blue note. A vetiver she twisted with an electric amber wood to create the tension brought by the blue note. “Ambroxan warms the aromatic woody accord, giving it a gentle vibrancy.” explains Amélie Bourgeois.

Vétiver Overdrive is interpreted by the great guitar player Justin Johnson, described as “the magician of american blues roots guitar”. Justin has an extremely varied repertoire, and is especially renowned for his rock’n’roll, blues and country creations.