‘Oceanscape’ & Sonic Self-Care

During July 2021 I visited Clearwater, Florida for a girl’s trip. As I was there, I got to soak up the tropical vibes and enjoy all the relaxation the beach and palm trees have to offer. The beach has always been a getaway for me. A way to decompress and become worry-free. It is the combination of the feet in the sand, feeling grounded, and hearing the ocean sounds, that help put my mind at ease. 

In my PhD research, I will continue to explore why nature sounds, or being in nature, provides relaxation effects. For the purpose of this blog, I tend to remain unformal and use the blog as storage as my thoughts during the creation process.  

As I was in Clearwater, FL, I took photos of the sights and field recordings of the sounds. I only recently dug through my archive of images and sound to compose ‘Oceanscape’ (10:31 recording now on YouTube, Spotify, and Soundcloud). I wanted to use a water sound that was not rain. The reason being, I used rain in the past to make soundscapes and wanted to work with a different water sound. Likewise, I have experimented with water being poured, shower water, fountains, and I felt it was necessary to explore the sounds collected from the ocean to continue with the water experimentation.  

I have come to find in my research with ambience, field recordings, and sound art, that water is commonly used. One popular artist, Bill Viola, uses water through footage/ image. Some critics believe Viola’s work provokes a form of meditation or self-reflection. Viola goes to say about his own work:  

“Once you slow down time you move into a different world…We’re not part of this world anymore. You move into a mystical world, perhaps, or you have time for reflection. We give the gift of time to people, to stay in a different world.” 

I find this quote to be interesting, as my soundscapes are inspired from guided meditations. I generate my work to take the mind away from reality and to promote relaxation through meditative practices. In my most recent published journal in Sonic Scope, I describe how this is the concept of creating ‘imagined spaces.’ For example, ‘Oceanscape’ is a way for listeners to mentally esacape from their current reality and transport themselves to a different space. Through sights and sounds, ‘Oceanscape’ creates the image of an ocean in my mind and takes me to the memories of the relaxation I felt during my times spent at the beach. Though I aim for the listener to image any beach they like, the sound and image I provide are prompts to help the listener on their relaxation journey.  

I am not sure if I will include a deep dive of ‘Oceanscape’ in my thesis, as I am planning over the next 6 months to make more work, but for the sake of getting use to explaining my work, critiquing it, and trying to understand why I make the choices I make, I think a prompt will help review:  

  1. What artists inspire me? Who can relate? 
  1. What are other artists doing/ not doing?  
  1. How could I have made my soundscape different?  
  1. Why did I make these creative choices? 
  1. Consider length, duration, sounds and why I went in this direction 
  1. Does the soundscape let me feel relaxed? / do I like my work? Why or why not? 

In my mind, creating soundscapes is a process, but it is often a process I do not even know I am doing. This is where keeping a blog helps, so I can see some thought processes and use this information to write my thesis.  

During my research I stumbled upon a term called ‘sonic self-care,’ which means using sound as a form of self-care practice. “Self-care is taking steps to tend to your physical and emotional health needs to the best of your ability.” https://www.everydayhealth.com/self-care/  

Self-care focuses on social, mental, physical, and emotional aspects of life that may be causing anxiety or stress. Some examples include:  

  1. Moving the body  
  1. Writing emotions down  
  1. Getting outside  
  1. Drinking water  
  1. Calling loved ones  
  1. Sleeping well 

These practices, though may seem simple, provide a way for us to relieve stress. (https://www.amherst.edu/campuslife/health-safety-wellness/counseling/wellness/self-care-and-stress-reduction/de-stress#:~:text=Good%20self%2Dcare%3A%20Taking%20care,%2C%20relaxation%2C%20and%20eating%20well.)  

With the ocean, “The sound of waves has also been proven to relax the mind. As waves come in, crash, and then recede again, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, which slows down the brain and helps promote relaxation.” (https://commonseas.com/news/ten-reasons-the-sea-makes-you-feel-amazing#:~:text=Stress%2DRelieving%20Waves,de%2Dstimulating%20our%20brains%E2%80%9D.) Perhaps the ocean sounds can be included with ‘sonic self-care?’ If my thesis allows, I will look into this concept further.  

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