Author: coreopulence

How Museum Visits Elevate Artists’ Creative Vision: A trip to the National Gallery

Museums have long been revered as treasure troves of artistic brilliance, housing the creations of renowned masters throughout history. A visit to a museum, like the National Gallery, can be a profound and transformative experience for artists and creative individuals. The vibrant colors, captivating brushstrokes, and carefully curated layouts found within the halls of these institutions have the potential to ignite new sparks of inspiration and propel artistic endeavors to new heights. In this blog post, I will explore how the act of viewing art in museums can influence and enrich the work of artists, even from different mediums like my nature photography (the visual component of my PhD research).

Immersion in Artistic Legacy: Stepping foot into a museum is akin to stepping into a time capsule, with each exhibit encapsulating a specific era and artistic movement. By witnessing the creations of legendary artists like Monet, Van Gogh, Michelangelo, and many others, artists can absorb the legacy of these great minds. The colors, techniques, and compositions employed by these masters can serve as a guiding light, nurturing the growth and development of artists in various disciplines.

Expanding Artistic Perspective: Museums offer a diverse range of art forms, styles, and subject matters. By exploring different exhibitions, artists gain exposure to a multitude of creative approaches, themes, and narratives. The act of observing and contemplating works from various artists fosters a broader artistic perspective. As a nature photographer, the visual language employed by painters can provide fresh insights into framing, composition, and storytelling, allowing for a more nuanced approach to capturing the beauty of the natural world.

Igniting Emotion and Imagination: Art has the extraordinary power to evoke emotions and stir the imagination. When standing before a masterpiece, one can experience an intimate connection with the artist’s intent and vision. The use of color, brushstrokes, and artistic techniques can elicit profound emotional responses. For artists, this emotional resonance can serve as a catalyst for creative breakthroughs. A visit to a museum can generate a wellspring of inspiration, leading photographers to experiment with new techniques, seek innovative angles, and capture the essence of nature in unique and captivating ways.

For example,

Vincent Van Gogh, the celebrated Dutch post-impressionist painter, possessed an unparalleled ability to capture the essence of nature with his vibrant brushstrokes and emotive use of color. His works, such as “Starry Night” and “Sunflowers,” resonate deeply with viewers, evoking a profound emotional response. Van Gogh’s unique approach to portraying the natural world can serve as a wellspring of inspiration for nature photographers. The way he captured the play of light, the texture of landscapes, and the dynamic movement of the sky can inspire photographers to seek out similar qualities in their own work. Van Gogh’s ability to infuse his paintings with raw emotion, whether it be tranquility, melancholy, or awe, can encourage photographers to delve beyond the surface of their subjects and capture the inherent emotions present in the natural world. By channeling Van Gogh’s spirit and artistic vision, nature photographers can elevate their work to new heights, imbuing their images with a sense of wonder and evoking powerful emotional responses in their viewers.

A visit to a museum is more than just a visual treat; it is an opportunity for artists to immerse themselves in the world of artistic greatness. The influence of museums on artists is profound, transcending medium-specific boundaries. Whether a painter, photographer, sculptor, or any other creative individual, the colors, brush strokes, and layouts found within museums can breathe new life into artistic endeavors. So, next time you find yourself strolling through the halls of a museum, remember that the inspiration you absorb may just be the spark that ignites your next masterpiece.

Enhancing Nature’s Harmony: Unveiling the Fusion of AI-Generated Photos and Soundscapes

I installed the Photoshop Beta which includes the selection tool AI generator. Below are some raw images from my Canon EOS camera paired with various AI generated images.

In today’s fast-paced and digitally-driven world, finding moments of tranquility and connection with nature can be a challenge. However, with the advent of artificial intelligence (AI), we now have the remarkable opportunity to create captivating visual experiences that amplify the beauty of nature. By combining AI-generated photos with curated soundscapes, we can transport ourselves into a realm where the senses intertwine, fostering a serene environment that encourages meditation and contemplation. In this blog post, I delve into the synergy between AI-generated nature photos and nature soundscapes, exploring how this unique fusion can unlock a transformative experience for individuals seeking solace and connection with the natural world.

The Power of AI in Nature Photography:

Nature photography has long been cherished as a means of capturing and preserving the essence of the outdoors. However, with AI technology, the boundaries of creativity and possibility have expanded exponentially. By employing AI algorithms, we can generate stunning nature photos that blend the familiar and the fantastical, evoking a sense of awe and wonder. These AI-generated photos offer a fresh perspective, showcasing hidden patterns, vibrant colors, and ethereal landscapes that might have otherwise remained undiscovered.


The Art of Pairing Audio and Visual:

The magic truly happens when we combine AI-generated photos with carefully curated soundscapes. By aligning specific sounds with corresponding visual elements, we create a multisensory experience that transcends traditional forms of media. The soft gurgling of a stream accompanies the image of a cascading waterfall, while the gentle chirping of birds coincides with a photo of a vibrant forest. These pairings engage both our visual and auditory senses, forging a deeper connection with the natural world and immersing us in a new reality where images and sounds intertwine harmoniously. I anticipate to use AI in future nature soundscape recordings.

Encouraging Meditation and Mindfulness

One of the primary objectives in my phd research moving forward is to facilitate meditation and mindfulness. The serene and captivating visuals, paired with soothing sounds, create a conducive environment for relaxation, introspection, and mental rejuvenation. As we delve into these multisensory experiences, our minds can wander, guided by the sights and sounds, into a state of deep meditation. This fusion of AI-generated imagery and curated soundscapes provides an accessible and innovative tool for those seeking solace and inner peace in their daily lives.

The fusion of AI-generated photos and soundscapes represents a groundbreaking approach to showcasing the splendor of nature. By harnessing the power of AI technology, we can unlock hidden wonders, creating visual landscapes that captivate our senses and ignite our imagination. Paired with carefully curated soundscapes, these immersive experiences offer a gateway to meditation, mindfulness, and a profound connection with the natural world. Through this symbiosis of audio and visual elements, we transcend the ordinary and embark on a journey where nature’s beauty and tranquility know no bounds. So, let us embrace this fusion, and immerse ourselves in the harmonious symphony of AI-generated nature photos and soundscapes.

A Captivating Journey: In the company of majestic nature

Nature has an incredible ability to captivate us with its ever-changing beauty. Recently, I embarked on a tranquil stroll through Braywick Nature Centre, a haven nestled away from the bustling city. This immersive experience allowed me to witness the remarkable transformation of the natural world as the seasons shifted. As I wandered along the winding paths, I couldn’t help but be enchanted by the vibrant colors, melodious bird songs, and the gentle whispers of flowing water. Allow me to take you on a journey through the lens of my camera, as I share the captivating wonders I encountered during this rejuvenating walk.

Embracing the Changing Seasons:
Upon entering Braywick Nature Centre, a serene ambiance enveloped me, infused with the crisp freshness of the air and the soft caress of a gentle breeze. I was immediately greeted by a tapestry of rich green hues, as the lush foliage of the trees announced the arrival of spring. The once bare branches now bore delicate blossoms, their vibrant petals unfurling as if awakening from a long slumber. It was a delightful reminder of the circle of life and the resilience of nature.

Discovering Nature’s Symphony:
As I ventured deeper into the reserve, the symphony of nature reached my ears. The melodious tunes of birds reverberated through the air, harmonizing with the rustling leaves and the gentle rustle of grass underfoot. I paused frequently, entranced by the diverse array of bird species that flitted and soared among the treetops. With my camera in hand, I attempted to capture their ethereal beauty, hoping to immortalize their fleeting presence.

The Whispering Waters:
Following a meandering path, I stumbled upon a picturesque stream, its crystal-clear waters cascading over smooth pebbles. Mesmerized by the rhythm of the flowing water, I carefully positioned myself on a nearby rock, letting the soothing sound wash over me. As I focused my camera on the glistening droplets, frozen in time, I marveled at the way the water brought life to the surrounding flora, breathing vitality into every blade of grass and every blooming flower.

In the Company of Majestic Trees:
Braywick Nature Centre is home to a magnificent collection of trees, each with its own unique personality. Towering forest trees stretched their branches skyward, providing shelter and shade for the bustling wildlife beneath. The vibrant colors of the leaves, varying from shades of green to fiery reds and oranges, painted a breathtaking tableau against the clear blue sky. With each step, I felt a sense of kinship with these guardians of the land, marveling at their silent strength and timeless wisdom.

My time spent at Braywick Nature Centre was an invigorating and transformative experience. As I immersed myself in the natural wonders that unfolded before me, I realized the immense power of reconnecting with the world outside our daily routines. The photographs I captured during this tranquil journey are but a mere glimpse of the profound beauty that resides within the embrace of nature.

I encourage you to visit any nature reserve, to explore its serene pathways, and to lose yourself in the symphony of birdsong and the whispering waters. Take a moment to witness the changing seasons, to be captivated by the vibrant colors and the subtle miracles that unfold with every passing day. The embrace of nature awaits, ready to awaken your senses and remind you of the wonders that lie just beyond our doorstep.

Creating a Relaxing Rain Nightscape

As someone who suffers from anxiety, I have always found it difficult to relax at night. My mind races, thinking of everything that could go wrong the next day, and I often end up tossing and turning for hours on end. However, in March 2023, I discovered a new way to help me unwind and drift off to sleep: creating a calming rain nightscape.

It all started when I recorded the sounds of rain from my balcony during a few different rainstorms, all with my mobile phone built in microphone. After listening to the recordings, I determined that the one I captured on the 24th of March was the best as it was less impacted by city sounds and human interaction. Despite being recorded during the day, I felt it could be made more moody and have a nighttime, sleepy feel to it.

To achieve this, I decided to pair the rain sounds with a piano loop in C#, provided for free by BandLab by Cakewalk. During the mixing process, I turned both the audio of the rain and the piano loop into stereo sound to enhance the quality. I also enjoyed the white noise ambiance from the rain recording, which added to the atmosphere.

To complete the soundscape, I took a photo from a nature walk I did in March 2023, completely unrelated to the sound of the rain heard in this recording. I went with this particular pairing of audio and visual elements to create a separate soundscape that embodies the essence of nighttime relaxation with rain. Adding the piano provides stable consistency and predictability to the piece, which I find calming and grounding when trying to sleep.

I used Cakewalk to create the 10-minute soundscape. I went with this because I enjoy doing 10-minute meditations. I have meditated since 2015 and feel 10 minutes a day can greatly improve my relaxation. This 10-minute rain nightscape has become a part of my nighttime routine. By having something to listen to like this, I can focus on something other than my thoughts and allow me to relax.

From my experience, creating a calming rain nightscape with piano and a nature walk photo is a great way to unwind and relax before bed. It is easy to make and can be done using free tools like Cakewalk. If you are like me and have trouble relaxing at night, I highly recommend giving this a try. It may just change your nighttime routine for the better.

Starting a New Podcast on a Budget: Tips for Using Free Software and Hosting on SoundCloud

Podcasting has become a popular form of content creation, allowing individuals to share their ideas, stories, and expertise with a wide audience. However, starting a podcast can seem daunting, especially if you’re on a tight budget. But fear not! With the right tools and resources, you can start a podcast on a budget and still produce high-quality episodes. In this blog post, we’ll explore tips for starting a new podcast on a budget, using free software like Audacity, cell phone microphones, and hosting on SoundCloud. Let’s get started!

Section 1: Choosing Free Software

One of the first steps in starting a podcast on a budget is to choose the right software for recording and editing your episodes. Luckily, there are several free options available, and one of the most popular ones is Audacity.

Audacity is a free and open-source digital audio editor that provides all the basic features you need to record and edit your podcast episodes. It has a user-friendly interface and supports multiple tracks, allowing you to add music, sound effects, and other elements to your episodes.

With Audacity, you can record your podcast episodes using your computer’s built-in microphone or an external microphone, and then edit them to remove any background noise, add music or sound effects, and adjust the volume levels. It also has features for equalization, compression, and other audio processing tasks to enhance the overall quality of your episodes.

In addition to Audacity, there are other free software options like GarageBand for Mac users or WavePad for Windows users. These software tools offer similar capabilities for recording and editing audio and can be a great option for podcasters on a budget.

Utilizing Cell Phone Microphones

Another way to save money when starting a podcast is by using your cell phone as a recording device. Most smartphones have built-in microphones that can produce decent audio quality for podcasting purposes.

To use your cell phone as a recording device, you can simply download a voice recording app from your app store, such as Voice Memos for iPhone or Easy Voice Recorder for Android. These apps allow you to record your podcast episodes directly on your phone, and you can then transfer the audio files to your computer for editing using free software like Audacity.

While using a cell phone microphone may not produce the same audio quality as a professional microphone, it can be a viable option for podcasters on a budget or those just starting out. To improve the audio quality, you can use a quiet space for recording, speak closely to the phone’s microphone, and consider using a pop filter or a DIY windscreen made from pantyhose or foam to reduce plosive sounds.

Hosting on SoundCloud

Once you have recorded and edited your podcast episodes, you’ll need a hosting platform to store and distribute your episodes to listeners. While there are many hosting platforms available, some of which require paid subscriptions, SoundCloud offers a free hosting option with limited storage and bandwidth.

SoundCloud is a popular platform for hosting and sharing audio content, including podcasts. With a free account, you can upload up to three hours of audio content and share your episodes with your audience through a unique SoundCloud URL or by embedding the episodes on your website or blog.

While the free hosting option on SoundCloud may have limitations on storage and bandwidth, it can be a great option for podcasters on a budget or those just starting out. You can always upgrade to a paid plan with more storage.

About the CoreOpulence Podcast

Are you looking for a unique and immersive podcast experience? Look no further! The CoreOpulence Podcast is here to captivate your senses with soothing soundscapes and captivating stories from my time as a student.

As a host and creator, I’m excited to share my passion for creating intricate soundscapes that transport you to different worlds. From serene nature sounds to futuristic cityscapes, each episode is carefully crafted to provide a truly immersive listening experience that will leave you relaxed and rejuvenated.

But it’s not just about the soundscapes! The CoreOpulence Podcast is also a platform where I share my personal life experiences as a student. From navigating the challenges of academia to the joys and struggles of student life, I’ll be sharing my insights, stories, and lessons learned along the way.

With episodes available on Spotify, you can easily tune in to the CoreOpulence Podcast and indulge in the richness of the soundscapes and my authentic life experiences. So grab your headphones, close your eyes, and let the CoreOpulence Podcast take you on an unforgettable journey of relaxation and inspiration.

Don’t miss out! Subscribe to the CoreOpulence Podcast on Spotify now:

Get ready to embark on a one-of-a-kind podcast experience with CoreOpulence! Join me on this captivating journey of soundscapes and life experiences that will leave you feeling refreshed and inspired. Don’t wait, hit that subscribe button now and let’s dive into the world of CoreOpulence!

Join me to learn more

Excited to announce that I will be sharing some beginner tips and tricks for starting a podcast at the upcoming Mega Marketing Event on April 25th, 2023, hosted by the University of Wolverhampton! Register here:

The Magnificence of Connecting with Nature During a Walk in the Park

Taking a walk in the park is a great way to connect with nature.

The hustle and bustle of daily life can easily get lost in today’s fast-paced world. Many of us rush from one task to another, hardly stopping to appreciate the world around us. A walk in the park can provide a welcome respite from the stresses of modern life and allow you to reconnect with nature.

Natural environments are one of the best things about parks. From meadows and woodlands to lakes and gardens, there is something for everyone to enjoy. During your stroll through the park, take a moment to appreciate the sights, sounds, and scents of nature. Take in the fresh air, observe the vibrant colors of the trees and flowers, and listen to the birds singing.

Studies have shown that spending time in nature can have a positive impact on our mental health and wellbeing. Being surrounded by greenery and fresh air can help to reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and increase feelings of happiness and contentment. In fact, a recent study by the University of Exeter found that people who spent just two hours per week in nature reported significantly higher levels of health and wellbeing than those who didn’t.

Walking in the park is also a great way to get some exercise and improve your physical health. Whether you’re taking a leisurely stroll or going for a brisk walk, being active in nature can help to boost your energy levels, improve your cardiovascular health, and strengthen your muscles and bones.

In addition to the physical and mental health benefits of walking in the park, there is also the opportunity to learn more about the natural world. Many parks have information boards or guided tours that can help you to identify different plant and animal species, learn about the history and ecology of the area, and gain a deeper appreciation for the natural world.

From my experience and research, taking a walk in the park can be a powerful way to connect with nature and improve your overall wellbeing. So next time you have some free time, why not head out to your local park and explore the beauty of the natural world? You may be surprised at the positive impact it can have on your mind, body, and spirit.

For me, going on walks is a crucial part of my mental health routine. Whenever I feel the need to move my body and clear my head, I know that a walk can help me achieve that. However, I have to admit that sometimes, my anxiety makes it hard for me to leave the house. Despite this, I remind myself of the benefits of walking and use that as motivation to push through my anxiety and get outside.

When I go on walks, I like to visit local parks in my area. These parks provide a natural and peaceful environment that allows me to connect with nature. As I start walking, I can feel my body becoming more active and alive. My muscles stretch, my heart rate increases, and I can feel my tension and stress melting away.

During my walks, I like to take in the sounds of nature, including the birds singing and the leaves rustling. This helps me to be more present in the moment and focus on the beauty of my surroundings. I also enjoy taking photos of the nature around me, which allows me to appreciate the beauty of nature even more.

Going on walks has become an essential part of my self-care routine. By getting outside, moving my body, and connecting with nature, I am able to improve my mental health and feel more grounded and centered.

Using Self-Reflection in the Creative Process of Soundscape Design

Self-reflection is an essential component of any creative process, including the creation of nature soundscapes that promote relaxation. In this blog post, we will explore why self-reflection is important for this type of work and how it can help you create more effective and impactful soundscapes.

Clarify your creative vision:

Self-reflection allows you to better understand your creative goals and aspirations. When creating nature soundscapes that promote relaxation, it’s important to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve with your work. By reflecting on your soundscapes, you can ask yourself questions such as: What am I trying to achieve with this work? What emotions or sensations do I want to evoke in the listener? This clarity of vision will help guide your creative decisions and ensure that your work effectively achieves your desired outcomes.

Evaluate your creative choices:

Self-reflection allows you to critically evaluate the choices you’ve made in your creative process. When creating nature soundscapes, there are a variety of choices to be made, including the sounds you choose to include, the pacing of the soundscape, and the overall structure of the work. By reflecting on your soundscapes, you can ask yourself questions such as: Did I choose the right sounds to create the desired effect? Was the pacing effective in promoting relaxation? Did the overall structure of the soundscape effectively achieve my creative vision? This evaluation can help you refine your creative choices and create more effective and impactful soundscapes.

Understand the impact of your work:

Self-reflection allows you to better understand the impact of your creative work. When creating nature soundscapes that promote relaxation, it’s important to understand how your work is perceived by the listener. By reflecting on your soundscapes, you can ask yourself questions such as: Did the soundscape effectively promote relaxation in the listener? Was the listener able to connect with the soundscape in the way I intended? This understanding of the impact of your work can help you create more effective and impactful soundscapes in the future.

From my understanding, self-reflection is a critical component of the creative process when creating nature soundscapes that promote relaxation. By clarifying your creative vision, evaluating your creative choices, and understanding the impact of your work, you can create more effective and impactful soundscapes that promote relaxation and enhance the listener’s experience. So take the time to reflect on your creative work and see how it can help you achieve your creative goals.

Other artists using self-reflection in their work:

Many field recording artists use self-reflection as a tool to create more meaningful and impactful work. By reflecting on their own experiences and emotional responses to the environments they are recording, these artists are able to create works that are more immersive, evocative, and emotionally resonant. Here are a few examples of field recording artists who use self-reflection in their creative work:

  1. Chris Watson is a field recording artist who has worked on numerous natural history documentaries for the BBC and has released several solo albums of his work. Watson uses self-reflection to deepen his connection to the environments he records, often spending long periods of time in the field and meditating on the sounds around him. Through his work, Watson seeks to create a sense of place and to convey the emotional and spiritual resonance of natural environments.
  2. Jana Winderen is a Norwegian artist who works with field recordings to create immersive soundscapes that explore the hidden world of underwater environments. Winderen uses self-reflection to deepen her understanding of the sounds she is recording, often diving in the same locations where she records to experience the underwater world firsthand. Through her work, Winderen seeks to convey the fragile beauty of underwater ecosystems and the urgent need to protect them.
  3. Francisco López is a Spanish artist who works with field recordings to create immersive soundscapes that explore the relationship between sound and space. López uses self-reflection to explore his own emotional and psychological responses to the environments he records, often seeking out remote or extreme locations to push himself and his work to new heights. Through his work, López seeks to create a sense of disorientation and wonder that challenges our assumptions about the world around us.

From these examples, self-reflection is an important tool for field recording artists who seek to create work that is emotionally resonant, immersive, and deeply personal. By reflecting on their own experiences and emotional responses to the environments they are recording, these artists are able to create works that convey a sense of place, beauty, and urgency that can inspire and move us.

Narration of a Nature Walk

After reading an article by  Dr Michael Gallagher, Manchester Metropolitan University , and Dr Jonathan Prior, Cardiff University, titled ‘Listening walks: A method of multiplicity,’ I was inspired to voice record my nature walk process and document the method on which I take photographs and nature field recordings. However, the key difference in our methods would be I focused on the soundscape of the environment, using technology to record and document, whereas Gallagher and Prior focused on the method of a listening walk. In their article, Gallagher and Prior (2017) go to discuss the difference.  

To paraphrase, in the 1960s and 1970s, the World Soundscape Project introduced the concept of the ‘soundwalk’, which involves exploring the soundscape of a given area. R. Murray Schafer, a key member of the project, first described it as a concentration on listening. Hildegard Westerkamp, another member of the project, elaborated on this by stating that a soundwalk is any excursion whose main purpose is listening to the environment.  

There are two types of soundwalks: technologically mediated walks, which use devices such as microphones and MP3 players to listen to the live soundscape or layer pre-recorded music and sounds onto the experience of walking and listening walks. The latter type was developed as a creative practice by experimental musicians and sound artists and involves walking with a concentration on listening, akin to John Cage’s idea of drawing attention to ambient sounds. Some listening walks are about chance experiences with sounds, while others are undertaken with a specific idea of the sounds to be encountered, making them like compositional pieces rather than completely unstructured improvisations. 

In the article authored by Gallagher and Prior, the experience of the listening walk is recounted and documented with photographs. Upon review of their creative process, I was inspired to adopt narration as a means of documentation in the methodology section of my research. Specifically, the recording of the soundwalk is believed to offer valuable insight to other researchers seeking to replicate the study on nature sounds promoting relaxation. The ability to replicate a methodology is essential in the research process, as it enhances the validity and reliability of study findings. Replication allows for the independent verification of research results, and thus helps to ensure the accuracy and credibility of claims. By reproducing a study’s methodology, researchers can assess the extent to which the original findings are generalizable to different populations and contexts, and can identify potential limitations or weaknesses in the study design. In addition, replication promotes transparency and accountability in research, as it enables other scholars to evaluate the quality and rigor of a study’s methods and results. Ultimately, the ability to duplicate a methodology contributes to the advancement of scientific knowledge and the development of evidence-based practices in various fields of study. 

About the Nature Walk Narration Recording  
Duration: Roughly 40 minutes of the recording, roughly 1 hour on the walk 
Walking distance: 5,661 steps (suggests a slower pace than average)  
Location: Braywick Nature Centre 
Date/ time: 19th Feb 2023, 2:00pm 
Weather: Sunny, 12c  
Raw images: 282 
Audio: Voice recording on Galaxy A52 
Photography: Canon EOS Rebel  

Upon reflection of this experience, I would say that using narration to document a nature walk can add significant value to my research, as it offers a rich and nuanced account of the experience and observations. Unlike written notes or photographs alone, narration allows the researcher to describe their thoughts, feelings, and reactions in real-time, which can provide important context and insights into the nature of their observations. Additionally, narration can help to bridge the gap between the researcher and the reader, creating a more immersive and engaging experience that enables the reader to better understand the researcher’s perspective. I would agree with this statement, as I was inspired by ‘Listening walks: A method of multiplicity’ (2017) the which showcased this process.  

 Furthermore, narration can capture the sounds and ambient noise of the environment, which can offer a more vivid and authentic representation of the natural setting being studied. This can be especially valuable for studies that seek to explore the sensory and emotional dimensions of nature experiences. Overall, the use of narration to document a nature walk can enrich the research process, facilitate deeper insights and connections, and create a more compelling and authentic record of the study. 


Gallagher, Michael, and Jonathan Prior. “Listening Walks: A Method of Multiplicity.” Walking Through Social Research, 2017, 163–77.

TEDx Talk: Madison Miller on Nature Soundscapes and Relaxation

In early October 2022, Madison took to the TEDx Wolverhampton stage to share her research in nature soundscapes and relaxation. Learn more about her work by watching the recording below:

The video description:

In this fascinating talk, Madison shares her research into the impact nature soundscapes can have on our well-being and how they can inspire relaxation during times of crisis. Madison is an international PhD student studying music soundscapes at the University of Wolverhampton. Her current research is a multimedia creative practice in soundscapes, incorporating sights and sounds through online channels. This is done using field recordings and photography that inspire relaxation. Her academic background is in various subjects, having a BA in Philosophy, English, and Psychology (USA), and an MA in Media and Communication (UK). She currently volunteers as Digital Officer for the Music and Mental Health Group, has won 2 consecutive awards for operating Society of the Year at the University of Wolverhampton for founding the Doctoral Students Society, and holds 2 awards for her photography presented at the University of Wolverhampton Student Research Conference. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

Using Mobile Phone Microphones to Record Nature Sounds

Nature has always been a source of inspiration for my soundscapes. From the soothing sound of a running stream to the chirping of birds, the natural world is full of sounds that can be used to create unique and beautiful compositions. And with today’s technology, it’s easier than ever to capture these sounds using nothing more than a cellphone microphone.

One of the biggest advantages of using a cellphone microphone to record nature sounds is the convenience and portability it offers. With a smartphone in hand, you can easily venture out into the wilderness and capture the sounds of nature without the need for bulky and expensive equipment. And because most smartphones today are equipped with high-quality microphones, you can be sure that the sounds you capture will be of good quality. I believe the accessibility mobile phones provide is one of the main reasons I use it for recording the nature sounds you hear in my soundscapes.

Another benefit of using a cellphone microphone to record nature sounds is the ability to capture unique and rare sounds that might not be available in traditional sound libraries. By venturing out into nature and recording your own sounds, you can create a personal library of unique and authentic sounds that you can use for your music production. The past 3 years of my PhD research have allowed me to archive many sounds, making for a large sound library I can use to reference and take inspiration from.

If you are keen to try recording sounds in nature, here are some tips when using your mobile phone:

Choose the right location: Look for a location that is relatively quiet and free of man-made sounds such as traffic or construction noise. Look for natural soundscapes such as forests, rivers, or meadows that offer a variety of sounds to record. Finding the right location might be hard if you live in a city or can’t fully escape sound pollution. If that is the case, you might need to edit the sounds out that you do not want to be in your recording. This can be done using Audacity or other music production apps.

Check the weather: The weather can play a big role in the quality of the sounds you capture. Avoid recording on windy days or during heavy rain as it can create unwanted noise in the recording. I love the sounds of rain and bring my umbrella, but even the umbrella can impact the sound of rain.

Test your recording settings: Before starting to record, test your recording settings to ensure that the microphone is set to the best possible setting for the environment and sounds you’ll be recording. I like to test before I leave the house and then test again when I get to the location.

Be patient: The beauty of nature is that it is always changing, so be patient and wait for the right moment to record. You may have to wait for a bird to call or for the wind to die down before you can capture the perfect sound. I sometimes like to stand, close my eyes, and breathe in the fresh air while I am waiting.

Use an app: There are several apps available for recording nature sounds which can help you to record, edit, and share your recordings with others. I use the recording app pre-installed on my Samsung Galaxy.

Respect the nature and the animals : Always be respectful to the environment you are in and do not disturb it. For example, I like to drink coffee when I am out on my nature walks, but I always make sure to dispose of my coffee cups in the bin.

I am passionate about capturing the sounds of nature, and I believe that anyone can create beautiful soundscapes. Immersing myself in nature has had a positive impact on my mental health and I want to share my experience to inspire others to do the same. I hope that by sharing my story, I can encourage others to explore the healing power of nature through the medium of sound.

The Negative Impact of Construction Noise: jarring noise prevents relaxation

Nature sounds, such as the sound of birds singing or a stream flowing, are generally considered more pleasant than city sounds because they are associated with peacefulness, tranquility, and serenity. These sounds evoke feelings of calm and relaxation, and can help to reduce stress and anxiety.

In contrast, city sounds, such as traffic noise and construction noise, are often associated with chaos and disorder. They can be loud, constant, and disruptive, and can make it difficult to concentrate or relax. They can also contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety.

Additionally, nature sounds have been found to have therapeutic benefits. For example, the sound of birds singing or a stream flowing can stimulate the release of endorphins in the brain, which are chemicals that promote feelings of pleasure and well-being. Research has also shown that exposure to nature sounds can improve cognitive function, reduce blood pressure and heart rate, and even enhance the immune system.

A look at construction sounds

Construction noise can be a nuisance for many people, disrupting our daily lives and causing a range of negative effects on our physical and mental health. From the constant drilling and hammering to the loud machinery and beeping of trucks reversing, construction noise can be overwhelming and disruptive.

One of the major negative effects of construction noise is on our sleep. The constant noise can make it difficult for people to fall asleep and stay asleep, leading to fatigue and a range of health problems. Studies have also shown that prolonged exposure to construction noise can lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety, which can have a significant impact on our mental health.

Another negative impact of construction noise is on our cognitive function. The constant noise can make it difficult to concentrate and can negatively impact our ability to learn and remember information. This can be particularly problematic for students who are trying to study or for workers who are trying to focus on their tasks.

In addition to the negative effects on our physical and mental health, construction noise can also have an impact on our overall quality of life. The constant noise can make it difficult to enjoy our homes and neighborhoods, and can lead to a sense of isolation and disconnection from our communities.

How does this relate to my research in nature soundscapes?

With anecdotal evidence from my own sound walks and field recordings, I have come to find that nature sounds are what help alleviate symptoms from anxiety. Particularly, nature sounds are helpful with promoting relaxation and calming the mind. When I am placed in a construction zone during my walks, I fixate on the loud, jarring sounds, and I feel my anxiety gear up. Often this results in a tenseness in my body, offering no sense of relaxation.

I believe it is important to experience the sound contrasts of nature vs construction zones to better understand the methods behind my research, as well as my final nature soundscape videos. Often, I have to cut out human interaction from my nature field recordings, whether it is construction, chatter, trains, cars, I make the choice to take these elements out and focus on the nature sounds instead. In my opinion, nature sounds are more pleasant than city sounds because they are associated with peacefulness, tranquility and serenity, they evoke feelings of calm and relaxation, have therapeutic benefits and remind us of our deep connection with nature.

Walk in Nature: a field recording

This is a snippet of audio from a field recording walk on 19th Jan 2023. You will hear sounds of various birds, footsteps, wind, and mild human interaction (cars, trains).

 My understanding of nature walks, through my personal experience, consists of being a recreational activity where I travel on foot through natural environments such as parks, gardens, forests, or wilderness areas. I found the purpose of my nature walks are to observe and appreciate the beauty and diversity of the natural world, and to connect with the environment in a meaningful way. During these walks, I may observe plants and animals, take photographs, or simply enjoy the fresh air and peaceful surroundings.  

Taking this one step further, during my nature walks I also listen to the sounds of nature and record them on my Samsung phone using the internal microphone and recording app. With my practice, I’ve grown familiar with soundwalks believe that soundwalks are an activity where I actively listen to the sounds of the environment while walking through it. Though soundwalks can be conducted in urban or natural settings and can vary in length from a few minutes to several hours, I found nature sounds to provide more relaxing benefits. Whilst in nature, I use my listening skills, along with devices such as field recording equipment to enhance my experience. I presume the purpose of a soundwalk is to become more aware of the sounds around us and how they might impact us. Particularly in my case, the soundwalks are used as a form of creative expression and meditation, offering relaxing effects through the opportunity to engage with the environment in a different way and to focus on the present moment. 

Many nature sounds are associated with positive memories and experiences, which can further contribute to feelings of relaxation. In my case, I remember the walk and the feelings evoked when I listen to my soundscapes. The sound of wind from this walk evokes feelings of freedom and expansiveness, transporting my imagination to the open, wild space of the park.  

Interviewing for Midlands Music Musings Podcast (MMRN): sharing my phd research in nature soundscapes & relaxation

I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed for a podcast about my PhD research. It was an exciting and unique experience, and I wanted to share some thoughts and tips for anyone else who may be in a similar position.

First and foremost, it’s important to prepare thoroughly. This means familiarizing yourself with the podcast’s format and audience, as well as the specific questions or topics that will be covered during the interview. It’s also a good idea to practice answering questions out loud, either with a friend or by recording yourself. This can help you feel more comfortable and confident during the actual interview.

Additionally, it’s crucial to be able to clearly and concisely explain your research in layman’s terms. Remember that the listeners of the podcast may not have a background in your specific field, so it’s important to be able to explain your work in a way that is easily understandable. This means avoiding technical jargon and using examples or analogies to illustrate your points.

During the interview itself, it’s important to stay focused and present. It can be easy to get nervous or distracted, but it’s important to remember that the interviewer is there to help you share your research with a wider audience. Try to stay relaxed and be yourself – authenticity is key.

One final tip is to have fun! Being interviewed for a podcast is a unique opportunity to share your work and insights with a wide audience. Embrace it and enjoy the experience.

Overall, being interviewed for a podcast to share your PhD research can be a rewarding and exciting experience. By preparing thoroughly, being able to explain your work in layman’s terms, staying focused and present during the interview, and having fun, you can make the most of this opportunity and effectively share your research with a wider audience.

About Midlands Music Research Network

I connected with MMRN on Twitter and found the opportunity to be part of their Midlands Music Musings podcast series, currently edited by Nicholas Ong.

“MMRN is an inclusive network, encouraging engagement not just from M4C-funded researchers but those in a self-funded capacity, those within broader music academia, research-based practitioners and more.”

Learn more:

Listen to Midlands Music Musings featuring Madison Miller

The episode is also available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Amazon Podcasts.

The Role of Nature Sounds & Images in Promoting Mindfulness (meditation)

Mindfulness and meditation are powerful tools for reducing stress and improving mental health, and incorporating nature sounds and images into your practice can enhance these benefits even further.

Nature has a unique ability to provide a sense of calm and serenity, making it an ideal subject for mindfulness practices. Whether you’re listening to the sound of waves crashing on the shore or admiring the beauty of a sunset, nature has the power to soothe the mind and bring us into the present moment.

Research has shown that mindfulness and nature can have a profound impact on the human brain. Exposure to nature can reduce stress and improve mood, and practicing mindfulness in nature can increase focus and concentration.

Incorporating nature sounds and images into your mindfulness practice is easy and can be done in a variety of ways. One option is to use guided meditations that incorporate nature sounds and images, such as a meditation on the sound of rain or the sight of a mountain landscape. Alternatively, you can simply focus on the sounds and sights of nature around you during your meditation, whether that’s in a park, by a lake, or even in your own backyard.

Technology can also make it easier to access nature sounds and images for your mindfulness practice. There are many apps and websites that offer nature sounds and images, allowing you to bring the beauty of nature into your home or wherever you are.

The benefits of practicing mindfulness in nature are numerous. In addition to the psychological benefits of mindfulness and nature, such as reduced stress and improved mood, practicing mindfulness in nature can also increase our sense of connection to the natural world. This connection can inspire a deeper appreciation for the beauty and importance of nature, and can motivate us to take action to protect it.

Nature Sounds and Mindfulness

Nature sounds are a powerful tool for mindfulness. The gentle rustle of leaves, the soothing sound of water, and the calming chirping of birds can all help to quiet the mind and bring us into the present moment.

In fact, many people find that nature sounds are especially effective for mindfulness meditation. By focusing on the sounds of nature, we can let go of our thoughts and worries, and simply be present with the sounds around us.

Nature Images and Mindfulness

Nature images can also play a role in mindfulness practice. By focusing on the beauty and majesty of nature, we can let go of our thoughts and concerns, and simply be present with the world around us.

For example, you might try looking at a nature photograph or painting, and simply observing the colors, textures, and details. Or you might try going for a nature walk, and paying attention to the sights, sounds, and smells of the natural world around you.

Examples of Nature Images and Sounds:

Water Sounds in Nature: a relaxing effect

Water is a fundamental element of life, and the sounds it makes in nature have a unique ability to calm and soothe the mind. From the gentle babbling of a brook to the soothing crash of waves on the shore, water sounds can help us relax and unwind after a long day. In this post, we’ll explore the science behind why water sounds are so effective for relaxation, and share some tips for incorporating them into your daily routine.

Water sounds in nature have a calming effect on the mind and body. The gentle trickling of a brook, the soothing lapping of waves on the shore, and the gentle rush of a waterfall all have a unique ability to relax and soothe the mind. But what is it about water sounds that make them so effective for relaxation?

The science behind the calming effect of water sounds is actually quite interesting. Studies have shown that listening to the sound of water can help to slow down our brain waves and reduce activity in the nervous system. This can have a number of benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety, lowering blood pressure, and improving sleep.

Incorporating water sounds into your daily relaxation routine is easy. One option is to use a white noise machine that plays recordings of water sounds. This can help to mask other distracting sounds and create a peaceful, relaxing environment. Another option is to listen to recordings of water sounds on your phone or computer. Many apps and websites offer a wide variety of water sounds to choose from, so you can find the ones that work best for you.

Another way to experience the calming effects of water sounds is to visit natural areas where you can hear them in person. Many parks and nature reserves have areas where you can sit and listen to the sounds of water, such as a pond, a river, or a waterfall. This can be a great way to relax and unwind, and it also has the added benefit of getting you out into nature, which has its own stress-reducing effects.

In conclusion, water sounds in nature can be a powerful tool for relaxation and stress relief. Whether you listen to recordings, use a white noise machine, or visit natural areas where you can hear the sounds in person, incorporating water sounds into your daily routine can help to reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, and improve sleep. Give it a try and see how it can benefit you!

Visit my YouTube channel to listen to more nature sounds:

Marketing Seminar – Teaching undergraduates at the University of Wolverhampton

Though my PhD focuses on music and photography, my professional background consists of media & communications experience with a range of knowledge collected over the past 10 years. With my areas of interest, I taught an in-person marketing lecture for University of Wolverhampton undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts, Business, and Social Science (November 2022). This lecture highlighted the practical skills needed for digital marketing, particularly blogs, social media, and mailer campaigns.

About this event

This practical session will be delivered by guest speaker Madison Miller who will showcase examples of marketing campaigns and how to create advertising campaigns for blogs, email and social media outlets.

Madison is a PhD Researcher in Music at the University of Wolverhampton and Founder of the Core Opulence Podcast (focused on music and mental health). Madison is a Marketing Executive for a technology company and has worked in the field of marketing and communications for the past 10 years, public and private sector, non-profit and for-profit companies within the US and UK.


MX118, MX Building Molineux Street City Campus North Wolverhampton WV1 1AD

Date and time

Thu, 17 November 2022, 11:00 – 13:00 GMT

What I’ve learned

As a PhD student, I find it is extremely important to gain experience with lecturing to better prepare myself for graduation and employability. I have successfully taught in my areas of interest (both online and at in-person lectures) and feel confident in my ability to lecture in a hybrid approach.

Autumn 2022 Nature Photography

Autumn is a beautiful time of the year. I love the crisp, fresh air and the changing color of the leaves. I found myself out in nature most days this October 2022, fully immersing myself in mindful meditation walks and soaking up the sights and sounds of my environment.

I think with the change of weather, the change of scenery, gives a new, fresh experience to walking in nature. The way I see it, as the seasons change, new opportunities for personal growth and artistic inspiration come. At the same time, I think my mental health has suffered the past few weeks and I needed nature more than ever to find a sense of calm in the mental storm. I don’t need to go into specifics, but I have found I felt overwhelmed and stressed with multiple areas of my life, some in my control and some not.

The highlight of this whole process is my photographs. I find peace and beauty with my nature photos and can say from experience that I have a sense of relaxation when viewing them. I think this is due to a few factors. When I reflect on my photographs I recall the walk I originally went on. I remember the process, the smells of trees, the sights, the wind, the time of day, the sound of walking on the grass, whether the sun was out. Using my imagination, I can go back to a time where I found relaxation during times of anxiety and stress. Likewise, my PhD research found that viewing nature photographs provides calming effects. I plan on exploring this concept more in my thesis.

Below are some photographs from my walks during October 2022.

My experience as a TEDx speaker (TEDx Wolverhampton)

I found the opportunity to do TEDx Wolverhampton through a post on Twitter.

Usually when I see an opportunity that I find interesting, I will do more research and make efforts to follow-up. I’ve found that I purposefully created an opportunity bubble on my Twitter account, where I only follow accounts relating to my academic or professional interests. In the past, my Twitter has provided the opportunity with, several conferences, podcast interviews, and publishing opportunities, all through networking.

This is not a promo for Twitter though. I think as long as you immerse yourself around like-minds in a way you feel comfortable, opportunities will be made available. After all, some of the TEDx speakers found the opportunity through friend suggestions and Google searching.

I realized the theme of TEDx Wolverhampton ‘Mirror, Signal, Maneuver’ involved self-reflection and change. With that, I decided to apply using the main theme from my PhD research: Nature Soundscapes and Relaxation. With my experience, nature sounds have brought peace during times of high anxiety. Even though nature is not a cure for stress, I think if we get in nature (either physically or through virtual means) we can see improvements in our wellbeing. I have changed for the better, becoming mentally and physically healthy after finding coping techniques that work for me. This is why I believe my PhD is an ‘idea worth spreading.’

Application Process

The application process was done online, simply answering questions and offering a draft idea of the key points of the speech. The important information to cover: make sure the topic relates to the theme of the talk.

Selection Process

The applications had a blind review to rule out bias. After a few weeks, the TEDx Wolverhampton team would be in touch. From what I understood, around 80 speakers applied and 12 were accepted.

Preparing for the TEDx Wolverhampton Event

  1. TEDx have rules and guidance to follow to ensure continuity with the #IdeasWorthSpreading. My fellow speakers and I were briefed on the requirements and expectations.
  2. Scripts were drafted by speakers and reviewed by the TEDx team. Once edited, the scripts would be approved a few weeks before the event to ensure time to memorize.
  3. Memorization was highly important. I researched ways to memorize a script and found a great method that suggested to break the speech into parts and themes.
  4. Practice was very important! I would practice each day, even whilst doing other tasks.
  5. I filmed myself doing the speech and also used voice recording to analyze my speech, hand movements, body language, and areas of improvement.
  6. We had stage time before the event! It was great doing rehearsals on the stage before the event, this helps ease my worry and fear.

Day of TEDx Wolverhampton

The day of TEDx Wolverhampton was packed. We met at 8am to do more practice and prep for the start time of 10:00am. With the TEDx team, I was able to relax and unwind in the green room and was provided my own dressing room. The team assisted with keeping the event organized and the speakers comfortable. The cupcakes were even home-baked by one of the lovely team members!


I recommend the experience to anyone interested in sharing their life experience, research, or lessons learned. I found that this was a great opportunity to share my PhD research with a general audience. I would say it was a challenge to not sound too academic, but drafting the script helped refine the message without using academic jargon.

The speakers all had pieces of themselves in their scripts and it was truly an amazing moment watching each speaker connect with the audience in their own way.

I also want to end my blog with a huge thanks to the TEDx wlv team for being so helpful and supportive throughout the process.

The editing process of the TEDx video might take up to 6 months. Once my talk is posted online, I will be sure to share!

‘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.”  

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. (,%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.” (,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.  

Madison Miller at TEDx Wolverhampton on Nature Sounds and Relaxation During Times of Crisis.

The news is out! I am delighted to announce I will be a Tedx speaker at @TEDxWolves (Twitter) on 1st Oct 2022. There is a great line up of speakers and I can’t wait to network and share my knowledge on improving mental health through nature sounds!

About TEDx Wolverhampton 2022

“Our theme for 2022 is “Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre” in recognition of the journey many of us find ourselves on as we emerge into a new world post COVID’.

Mirror, signal, manoeuvre used to be one of the first rules we hear when learning to drive (now MSPSL) and is synonymous with keeping yourself and those around you safe, which has been a key message over the past few years.

At TEDxWolverhampton 2022 we’re exploring ideas that help us reflect (Mirror) on the past few years, indicate (Signal) the changes and adaptations we have to make in response to the changes around us and, more importantly, help us successfully determine the way forward (Manoeuvre).” – TEDx Wolverhampton

To learn more, please visit:

What life and career experiences will inform your TEDx talk?

PhD researcher in Soundscapes at the University of Wolverhampton, currently in my 3rd year exploring how nature sounds and nature photography improve relaxation. As someone who suffers from anxiety, my practice-based research project with an autoethnographic method explores how, through the creation and listening process, I find relaxation as a way of coping with CPTSD and anxiety. Additionally, I am in the process of being published with Sonic Scope, I am communications officer for the Music and Mental Health Group, student rep for the Royal Musical Association, Leadership Award winner 2022 with Students Union (University of Wolverhampton).

How will your talk relate to our Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre theme?

The Covid-19 caused stress for many of us. Stress is a major health concern, leading sufferers to develop poor physical health, anxiety, and depression. According to the Mental Health Foundation, “74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.”

Art during times of crisis is a topic I’ve explored during my latest art show at the University of Wolverhampton (March 2022). Though I suffer from anxiety and often experience stress, the Covid-19 crisis elevated my mental health concerns and to cope I would create imagined spaces using nature field recordings and nature photography from my self-meditation walks. Since most of us could not leave our homes, I generated soundscapes that allow listeners to take a mental break.

From the individual perspective, my research is autoethnographic, taking inspiration from my mental health journey. Throughout the years of testing coping mechanisms during therapy (CBT), I discovered meditation music and guided meditations, which significantly helped ease stress. My PhD journey started with a meditation focus and grew into a practice-based research project on nature recordings and nature photography.

The theme Mirror, Signal, Maneuver applies to using music as a tool to help cope during times of crisis. From a society standpoint, it is important to break the mental health stigma but also offer accessible ways of reducing stress. From an individual standpoint, it is important to reflect on triggers and find suitable coping skills that work best for you.

What are the talking points of your presentation?

Keywords: Soundscape, meditation, relaxation, stress, mental health, nature sound, nature photography, field recordings, creative practice, imagined spaces

F Minor: A brief look on how nature field recordings can change the emotion of sound  

The emotional power of music stands as multidisciplinary research, which includes philosopher, psychologists, neuroscientists, and musicologists. From these theoretical and practice-based views, the relationship between emotion and music is explored, often showcasing music as a form of emotional communication (The Emotional Power of Music). According to psychologist Nico Frijda, emotion is a way for us to deal with the world as well as offer us a way analyze and understand it.  

Though the main objective of my PhD research is to analyze how nature soundscapes can influence relaxation, my interpretation of the soundscapes could be entirely different to the listener. Take for instance my most recent work ‘Moonscape.’ Using a field recording of the wind from my balcony, I paired this with a F minor piano chord from BandLab that fades in and out throughout 10 minutes. The F minor chord is associated with “deep depression, funereal lament, groans of misery and longing for the grave” (Musical Key Characteristics). An example of this includes,

“Looking at Beethoven’s first piano sonata, written in F minor, we can find a particularly strong place for melancholy in the third movement, a minuet and trio. The left and right hand imitate each other, we have dramatic pauses, and a syncopated melody, all designed to throw the listener off by just a little bit” (F Minor Examples).

With these common sad, melancholy emotions F minor brings, I believe it is reasonable to assume listeners might take away a sense of eeriness, uncertainty, or sadness from listening to the ‘Moonscape’ piece. However, I also believe the added elements to ‘Moonscape’ transform the F minor into a sound communicating the emotions of relaxation, peace, or rest. The nature field recording of nighttime wind was added as the main background noise, lasting throughout the entire piece. This is the main, consistent sound, providing a grounding, stable place for the listener to leave and return to when the F minor fades in and out.

“The sound of wind is one of the most relaxing sounds in existence. This sound alone eases away stress and makes everything outside look more calm and quiet. The sound of wind is great for helping one to fall asleep and for covering background noises. Wind noise is a natural source of white noise.”

To generate your own wind sound and experience this for yourself, check out this wind generator:

 Wind Noise generator.

From my experience, F minor added to the wind field recording changes the emotion of the overall piece to one of calm and quiet, much like the stillness of a moonlit night. In my thesis I plan on exploring this topic in more detail.


The Emotional Power of Music: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Musical Arousal, Expression, and Social Control. (2013). United Kingdom: OUP Oxford.

Watch Moonscape here:

Mentor Collective: Now offering support to USA student arts & humanities mentees

Once one door closes, another door opens.

I recently resigned from the committee roles in the Royal Musical Association and Music and Mental Health Group and am thrilled to announce a new adventure!

I am now a mentor with the Mentor Collective, offering mentorship sessions to USA undergraduate students focused on arts & humanities. I look forward to meeting my mentees and having discussions on academic success, work-school-life balance, career, and personal growth.

What is the Mentor Collective?

Trained alumni mentors provide students with unique guidance and insights into the industry they’re pursuing while introducing technical and soft skills helpful for their specific career trajectory.

Learn more here:

What can I offer to mentees?

I recently received the Leadership Award (2022) from the University of Wolverhampton highlighting my ability to lead others to success through empathy, encouragement, and support.

With my extensive skills in professional and academic settings, I offer support and guidance to students interested in developing personally, academically, or in their career. My experience includes:

  1. Media & communications 5+ years
  2. Photography 10+ years
  3. Applying for grants / funding
  4. Living independently
  5. Work/life balance
  6. Time management
  7. Remote work / remote learning
  8. Committee work / non-profits
  9. Building societies / chair, secretary, treasurer
  10. Awards / achievements / goal setting
  11. CV / resume development
  12. Leadership skills
  13. Management skills
  14. Lecturing / teaching / training
  15. Publications
  16. Social media / blogs / mailers
  17. Higher education
  18. Applications (Masters, PhD, job)
  19. Thesis support

Please connect with me on LinkedIn to learn more:

How do I become a mentee?

As of July 2022, I offer monthly sessions to students at Millersville University through the alumni program which can be accessed through the Mentor Collective.

If you are a student outside of that University, please contact me using the form below and we can discuss mentorship opportunities.

Core Opulence Podcast now LIVE on Spotify!

Interested in music and mental health? I am happy to say I’ve launched my PhD focused Core Opulence Podcast, where you can find relaxation soundscapes and discussions on mental health and more. Follow me on Spotify!

Here is the introduction to the Core Opulence Podcast:

Follow me on Spotify:

Or listen in on YouTube:

Free Download Goal Planner by Core Opulence

What is a goal planner?

A goal planner is a great way to get your thoughts out of your head and on paper! With my anxiety, I stay up late thinking and over-thinking, but I have learned it is best to write my thoughts down. Rather than storing thoughts in my mind and constantly running through them, writing them down allows me to externalize the issue at hand and manage my thoughts from the outside.

To support a healthy mind. I write my goals down each month and check back in with myself regularly to see if I am on track.

How to use a goal planner?

You can easily write down your wants, needs, desires, and goals without a goal planner. However, I think having a template as a prompt can encourage a clear, focused vision of your goals and how you can achieve them.

A goal can be anything from small to large, easy to difficult, which means some goals might take longer than other to achieve. This is all normal and to be expected so do not feel discouraged if you feel unmotivated or behind on your goal setting.

How to choose a goal:

My advice is to look at where you are now and prioritize which goals you want to focus on first. Some questions to ask yourself include:

  1. Do I have a skill I want to develop or gain? Training? Career development? Hobby?
  2. Is there knowledge I want to pursue? Higher education?
  3. Are my relationships balanced? Do I have toxic relationships?
  4. Am I happy with myself? My mind, body, spirit?
  5. What behaviors do I have that are impacting me, or others around me, that I want to change?
  6. What stress am I experiencing at this time?

For example, some top priorities can include:

  1. Applying for a new job
  2. Building a savings account
  3. Having a consistent workout routine
  4. Improving sleep quality

What can you do TODAY to help achieve your goals?

Small steps every day add up. It is important to realize you are capable of achieving your goals and getting to the finish line, but it takes work and inner-strength. Ask yourself: What can I do to achieve my goal? In the case of looking for a job, perhaps making a CV/ resume would help, or in the case of improving sleep quality, you could do some research on ways to get to sleep at a decent hour.

You can be a great problem solver! Test out your ability and see what you can come up with. Make a path to get you from where you are at now to where you want to be.

What are your areas of focus?

This is a different, or more simplistic, way of viewing your goals. After reflecting on what you want to prioritize, discover what category your goals belong to. For example, if your goal is to to clean your bedroom the category would be ‘home.’

Other areas of focus may include but are not limited to:

  1. Myself
  2. Relationships / love
  3. Finance / income / wealth
  4. Career
  5. Creative
  6. Knowledge / Learning
  7. Travel
  8. Family
  9. Home

By breaking your goals down to smaller bits, you can sense your goals are easier to manage. I believe this helps me feel less overwhelmed with a task when I focus on one category at a time.

Words of affirmations and encouragement

Some of us have doubt and negative self-talk. This section is to remind you of your greatness! This is where you can reflect on your strengths and abilities so when you are feeling low you have a point of reference to bring you back to a positive headspace.

Some examples of affirmations include:

  1. I always work towards my goals and achieve them in my own time
  2. I let go of worry and stress
  3. I embrace change and look forward to where I am going
  4. I am focused on myself
  5. I believe my life is in my hands
  6. I expect to achieve all my goals
  7. I am successful
  8. I create my reality

Download Here:

Winner: ‘People’s Choice’ Doctoral Depictions Photo Competition 2022

The winners of the Doctoral Depictions Photo Competition 2022 were announced at Researchers’ Week Awards/Celebration Ceremony on Friday 24 June 2022.

I am happy to say I won People’s Choice for 2022! I want to thank everyone for taking the time to vote for me and support me throughout the PhD journey.

Photography is a key feature in my PhD research and creative practice in soundscapes. I look forward to sharing more photos in the future.

To learn more about this award, please visit my previous blog:

or visit the University of Wolverhampton website:

Exploring Song Bowls and Sound

It is no secret on my blog that I started meditating in 2015 to combat my migraines and anxiety. With that, I entered a mental space where I wanted to try different meditation techniques to see which worked best for me.

Sound became critical to my meditation practices. I migrated towards nature and ambient sounds, as I found these sounds to be most relaxing. However, others find moving the body through yoga or dance, or sitting in silence, as valuable forms of meditation. Through my experience, I encourage anyone looking to meditate to try various styles to find what best fits them.

I have tried light baths, sound baths, group meditation, yoga, and more to come to the conclusion that sound impacts me most.

I came across Tibetan singing bowls early on in my meditation journey and own one bowl of my own. I used tutorials online to learn how to play and, with my Masters research, learned the long history of the bowl.

On the spiritual side, I resonate with the concepts of vibration and frequency offering healing properties, much like binaural beats (to learn more please visit my previous blog: With that, I recently completed a song bowl class that showcased how to heal others through special techniques of playing the bowls.

In the future I hope to cultivate this skill and offer free sessions for song baths so others can experience this form of meditation.

(Photos from the song bowl class 18th June 2022).

A Look into Binaural Beats: Aesthetics vs Function

(Submitted 18th May 2018, By Madison Miller – Bournemouth University, MA Media & Communications)


Linguistic theories suggest humans have an innate need to communicate, which categorizes language as an instinctual characteristic (Pinker 2015). From this notion, some musicologists theorize music as a universal language, creating a synthesis between the human instinct to communicate and the meaning behind communication. This fusion proposes that music emulates language, specifically when comparing elements like: character symbols in language vs note symbols in music, musical sound systems vs language sound systems, rhythm in music vs rhythm in speech, melody in music vs melody in speech, etc (Patel 2010). This means that music has influence, much like language, that generates symbolic understanding and meaningful feeling. Likewise, theories suggest language can transcend the sciences, or the tangible, to embody language arts (poems, literature, etc.), or intangible. Music operates in this same manner, going from functional aspects to ambiguity, depending on the music genre, composure, etc (Pople 2006). In particular, binaural beats, which is music that aids in meditation, seems to embody the functional and aesthetic properties, depending on the composition. Firstly, understanding binaural beats and their effects on human consciousness must be explored in order to gain awareness of binaural beats and the relation to meditation. Next, the dichotomy of function vs aesthetic resting in binaural beats and their digitally created sound will highlight the functional elements of music. Afterwards, binaural beats and instrumentation will explore function vs aesthetic, concluding that binaural beats have an aesthetic appeal. Finally, this will bring the conclusion that binaural beats embody functional and aesthetic elements, but the amount of each will vary depending on the composition.

Understanding Binaural Beats and their Effects on Human Consciousness

Binaural beats, or two-tone beats, are an audio stimulus composing of two different tones. Discovered in 1893 by H.W. Dove, a German experimenter, binaural beats impact the listener through the variations between hertz (Leeds 2010). This is done through playing two tones, each at a different frequency. In order for the tones to have an impact on the listener, they are generated to play notes in the average human hearing range of 20-20,000Hz and are distributed to one tone per ear (Woodward 2016). While listening to binaural beats, it is often advised for listeners to wear headphones to obtain the best results. During the listening process the superior olivary nucleus, which rests in brain stem and functions by integrating auditory input, responds by linking the two tones together to create a perceived third beat (Porter 2008).

“The difference between the two frequencies must be small (below about 30 Hz) for the effect to occur; otherwise, the two tones will be heard separately and no beat will be perceived” (Lind-Kyle 2009, p. 254).

Here, the tones ebb and flow, which allows for the frequency waves to mesh in and out. Simultaneously, the third beat appears and disappears during the flow.  This is known as a phase difference, which is brought on by the two carrier tones. The sensation of “hearing” the third beat, brought on by the frequency unification, generates a perceived universal hertz for the two tones. Additionally, the perception of isochoric tones, or tones that are rapidly turned on and off, takes place as the third beat replaces the sound of the two meshing frequencies (Woodward 2016).

            A hertz is a unit of frequency that indicates the cycle per second of electromagnetic waves. Hertz are not only found in music, but in the human brain as well.  The brain’s hertz, or brainwave patterns, change depending on the brain’s state of consciousness (Mattulich 2008).  For instance, during the awake consciousness, gamma waves, which typically rest in 40Hz, provide high mental activity, problem solving, and fear awareness.  Likewise, beta waves, which range from 16Hz to 39Hz, are during the awake state but offer active, busy, anxious thinking, paranoia, and cognition. Next, the alpha waves, which rest from 8Hz to 13Hz, is the pre-sleep phase. Here, the brain is relaxed, providing sleep drowsiness, REM sleep, and dreams. Theta waves, which range from 4Hz to 7Hz, are deep meditation, deep relaxation, and sleep waves. Similarly, delta waves, which are less than 4Hz, give deep, dreamless sleep and a loss of body awareness. Finally, the mu waves, which range from 7.5Hz to 12.5Hz provide sensorimotor awareness, which overlap with the alpha wave state (Woodward 2016).

            However, the scale of hertz is vast and can adjust to go up or down. In the case of binaural beats, not all binaural beats rest in low hertz. Instead, the most common type of binaural beat is 432Hz (Van Heerden 2016). 432Hz in the binaural beat community is referred to as the Sacred Sound. The Sacred Sound, in theory, allows human consciousness to align with Earth’s frequencies, prompting the listener to feel balanced, centered, or grounded (O’Callaghan 2016). To explain, in 1952 German physicist Winfried Otto Schumann discovered the Schumann Resonance, which are global electromagnetic resonances that rest from Earth’s cavity to the ionsphere (Godbe 2018). This frequency is low, ranging from 7.88Hz to 8Hz. Using 8Hz as a starting point and moving up 5 octaves using Pythagorean mathematics, a system of calculation, where there is “a ‘mean’ between two terms in a given ratio” (Crock 1964, p. 325) providing harmony. The A note frequency of 8Hz in the Schumann Resonance becomes 432Hz (O’Callaghan 2016) using Pythagorean mathematics, letting the rest of the notes in the scale follow suit and make up the Solfeggio Scale. The Solfeggio Scale has ancient roots and can be found in modern healing practices involving binaural beats (Mattson 2016) on consciousness. This movement up the scale of perfect fifths, a 3:2 frequency ratio derived from a pair of pitches, was inspired by Pythagorean mathematics or Pythagorean tuning, where the Circle of Fifths, a relationship between 12 notes, depicts the Chromatic Scale. To help put this into perspective, the Chromatic Scale is heard when playing every note on the piano (Barbour 1933). These notes remain pleasant on the ear because the frequencies are distant enough to create harmony when played in a piece of music. Knowing this process of the 3:2 ratio, Pythagorean mathematics shows that the Schumann Resonance can go from 8Hz to 432Hz. At the same time, 8hz embodies the theta/ alpha range which is carried into the 432Hz A note. In music terms, this process is called Pythagorean turning, where 432Hz remains as an A octave through the base 8Hz.

Despite Pythagorean mathematics and the sacred notion of 432Hz, the Western standard of music, initiated by the International Organization for Standards in 1955, has A tuned to 440Hz. This standard was established as a way to bring consistency to orchestral music performances in different regions (Cornelius and Natvig 2016). Rather than the same piece of music tuned higher or lower, the 440Hz standard provided a compromise between various tuning systems worldwide. Nowadays, the majority of contemporary music is recorded as 440Hz due to this standard.

Yet, the history behind 432Hz is broad, where evidence reveals knowledge of 432Hz in ancient Greece, Egypt and Tibet, having their musical instruments tuned to 432Hz. For instance, Tibetan singing bowls came into existence between 560-480 B.C. Tibetan singing bowls, made from a bronze alloy and various other metals, are rubbed or struck with a wooden stick, creating layers of rich overtones (Shrestha 2009). These overtones are heard binaurally, which generates a perceived third frequency that aids in meditation. To this day, binaural beats are used during meditation, ranging from digitally created binaural beats to gong baths. Theories around binaural beats suggest a listener can change consciousness, or adjust brain activity, depending on what hertz are present (Woodward 2016). This means binaural beats can interact with brainwave patterns of neural oscillation, adjusting the listener’s brainwaves to reflect the input hertz of the binaural beat.

To explore the meditation advantages of binaural beats, Electroencephalograms (EEGs) were used to measure and monitor brainwave patterns. Here, EEGs provided further insight into changing brainwave patterns while a listener is exposed to binaural beats. Research with EEGs and binaural beats concludes “the sensory-stimulus known as binaural beating can be effective in inducing altered states of consciousness” (Atwater 1998) where delta and theta ranges in binaural beats can aid in sleeping (Heiw 1995), while alpha and beta binaural beats offer increased alertness, concentration (Monroe 1985) and higher memory retention (Kennerly 1994). To put this into perspective, Atwater (1998) explains, “if the audio stimulus is 24 Hz, the resulting measured EEG will show a 24 Hz frequency-following response using appropriate time-domain averaging protocols.” The act of brainwave patterns adjusting to fit with binaural beats is referred to as frequency following response (Smith et al 1975). Here, EEG research concludes that binaural beats make an impact on the listener’s brainwaves and consciousness through exposed frequencies. For example, if binaural beats are set to 300Hz and 280Hz tones, the brain will process and absorb the perceived third beat, which is the 10Hz tone. 10Hz is a very low frequency soundwave, which is below the human hearing range, but research suggests you actually do not need to hear the soundwave for your brain to be effected by it (Kershaw and Wade 2012). The 10Hz tone brings the listener into the alpha state, changing consciousness to a pre-sleep state.

Digitally Created Binaural Beats and their Unpleasant Sound

It is important to note that binaural beats come in various forms, offering different meditation benefits to the listener. At the same time, binaural beats curators embrace the diversity by enhancing the listening experience through musical overlays (Lind-Kyle 2009). If the listener seeks to meditate to calming wind chimes, flutes, birds chirping, ocean waves, etc., while wanting the perks of binaural beats, it is possible. Notably, this is the preferred method of listening to binaural beats, from beginner to seasoned meditators. Here, a distinction between digitally created binaural beats and instrumentation overlays on binaural beats must be made, for digital binaural beats sound different compared to the superimposed instrumentation.

Focusing on digitally created binaural beats, these are the base, authentic tones, that do not offer any elements of melody, instrumentation, rhythm, texture, or harmony. To put into perspective, digitally created binaural beats are like a car horn, there isn’t much to the sound, which leaves the sound obnoxious on the ear (Bever 2018). The two tone frequencies of the binaural beats mesh in and out to create the perceived third beat, all of which is unpleasant. Unlike the Tibetan bowl or the gongs, digitally created binaural beats have frequencies that are similar in range. This similarity in frequencies causes the perceived third beat to sound off, having an obnoxious sound that is offensive to the ear. To explain, imagine a beginner guitarist learning to play chords together. When the guitarist’s finger slips and holds down the wrong note, the listener notices the mistake through the unflattering sound of the chord. Later, this same guitarist practices and becomes advanced. While strumming, the guitarist is able to move between the C chord and the G chord without fuss. The C chord and the G chord fit well together and the listener hears the improvement in the guitarists skills. This is due to the C and G chords following the sequence of the perfect fifth. Since the frequencies of C and G are separated and different, when played together there is a sense of harmony. To explain, harmonics shows the C as 3:2 of G, where these notes line up every 3rd harmonic of C and 2nd harmonic of G (Mathieu 1997). Since these notes are meant to line up through harmonics and perfect fifth, when played together they have a harmonious sound. To elaborate, the C chord in Western music contains the note G, which allows for a consistent sound (Cornelius and Natvig 2016). Going back to the example used earlier to generate a 10Hz alpha third beat, the two primary tones are 300Hz and 280Hz, which is too close together in soundwaves to have a pleasant appeal. This means binaural beats remain unusual with their use of similar frequencies, as compared to the perfect fifth which allows for more than 30Hz between notes. This leaves digitally created binaural beats to have an unsophisticated sound, much like the beginner guitar player strumming the wrong notes in a chord. It almost sounds as if the wrong notes are played and generate a third unwanted note.

The unpleasant sounds of binaural beats can be related to the tritone known as Diabolus in musica, or the devil in music. This term came out of the medieval era, where clergymen were unsatisfied with the tritone’s unstable intervals. The tritone was banned in church music, only allowing perfect fourths and perfect fifths. Due to the unsettling sound of the Diabolus in musica, clergymen thought there was something evil lurking in the music. This lead many to believe that Satan rests in the sound as an attempt to corrupt the Trinity (Walker and Don 2013). In recent history, the sinister sound of the Diabolus in musica has lost the fear it once induced. Now, this sound is tied to creating a chilling or foreboding atmosphere and is commonly used in rock or metal music. For instance, the opening chords to ‘Purple Haze’ by Jimi Hendrix are tritones, where the song starts with a creepy or spooky atmosphere to reflect Hendrix’s inspiration from a nightmare he had involving getting lost in a cloud of purple haze (Moskowitz 2010).

Digital Binaural Beats: Aesthetic vs Function  

 Nevertheless, digital binaural beats and their off-putting sound are tolerated in order for the listener to achieve meditation effects.  In practical terms, digital binaural beats innately lack musical qualities that allow for a positive experience with the human senses. This leads to the sounds of the two frequencies and the third perceived beat to be hard on the ear, but necessary soundwaves in order to aid in entering a deep state of meditation. However, the aesthetics of music embodies all sound, whether subjectively good or bad to the ear. Aesthetic, through Clive Bell’s (1958) definition, suggests that aesthetic rests with the essence of a thing. This means that music is an art that holds a common property. The significant form, which is the common property of art, rests in means of feeling rather than description. However, when listening to digitally created binaural beats, there is no feeling evoked other than the common dislike for the sound, along with the brainwave copying of soundwaves. The listener does not have an artistic, emotional experience, whether profound or minute. Digitally generated binaural beats do not elicit raw feelings of joy, happiness, sadness, love, hate, anger, warmth, comfort, etc., Instead, they make the listener want to turn off the music, since it is very unpleasing to hear. The listener prevails through the off-putting music solely to gain the effects of binaural beats on brainwaves. From this, the aesthetic, or the essence of digitally created binaural beats would be the universal agreement that the sound, in itself, is unpleasant. Langer (1957) argues that aesthetics does not equal beautiful. Aesthetics can embody the unpleasantness in art. This allows for the conclusion that the raw state of digitally created binaural beats only offers the aesthetic quality of distaste.

Though the sound is bad, what remains true in the binaural beat process is that listeners choose to listen to binaural beats in order to improve themselves with meditation. Binaural beats are believed to come with a variety of healing benefits associated with the hertz they carry. Some benefits include: anxiety relief, stress reduction, full-body relaxation, study aid, memory aid, concentration aid, migraine relief (Woodward 2016), etc. Here, the needs of the listener are in a flux, which creates a need for the listener’s brainwaves to connect to different binaural beat frequencies (in order to change states of consciousness). One tactic used to help alter states involves focusing on the present moment. This means digital binaural beats have a fluidity of meaning, which allows the listener to remain in the present moment.

“human consciousness engages in a continuous process of deciding and selecting where to spend attention. This is the most obvious reason why the acts of listening… are ‘thought-full’” (Elliot 1995, p.79).

The two tones ripple in and out, which creates the third perceived beat. This process keeps the listener engaged, focusing on the waves of sound rather than wandering thoughts (such as: past experiences, plans, work, relationships, etc.). To compare digital binaural beats to other meditation techniques, listening to this form of music is similar to focusing on breathing. Breathing exercises elicit mindfulness or ‘thought-full-ness’ because the meditator is placing awareness on what is happening in the ‘now.’ These methods of music and breathing aiding in mediation have been passed down from as long as the earliest written documentation of meditation in 1500 BCE from hindi traditions (Stanton et al. 2012). 

            Since digital binaural beats are used for meditation purposes, this reflects a functionalist approach where the symbolic function of binaural beats preps the meditator to meditate. To explain, functional music goes hand in hand with the absolutist movement. The absolutist music movement reflects the idea of music being used for a specific purpose (Bonds 2014). Mozart was well known for his functional music pieces, for he created music to go along with dinner or entertainment. Here, music exists for music’s sake. The early 19th century’s influence with absolute music brought forth other composers, such as: Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms. Not only did these composers help create an understanding of absolute music during the Romantic era, but the functional concept continues in Western music today (Bonds 2014). To help aid in this view, imagine a piece of music with lyrics. Lyrics often tell a story of a person or subject. Having these vocals creates a theme or embodies a subject. This would classify the music as Program music, or representation music. If absolute music decided to use the human voice, it would be used in a different way (Bonds 2014). In the functional state of music, the voice is used as an instrument without creating lyrics that would highlight a subject. This means that the voice in the functional music piece would be ambiguous sounds not relevant to a storyline. For instance, the Halo (videogame series) original soundtrack has this type of music on the videogames main menu screen. The sound of male voices (resembling monk chants) is used in an ambiguous way, which does not allow for any type of true lyric or language to be heard. The male tone instrumentation stands as a functional piece to pair with the videogame, rather than exist on its own with a storyline. However, after the players of this game become aware of the music, the music then acts as a signpost for the game, prepping the players to play. Likewise, digital binaural beats remain a signpost for meditation, which is another functional element. This signpost turns into ritual, where the meditator creates a routine in order to enter meditation. Other rituals that involve music act in this same way. For instance, Native American music goes hand in hand with ceremonies and rituals. The Sioux Grass Dance, or man’s pow wow dancing, is paired with music to function as a signpost for stomping on grass to bless the ground (Densmore 2001). Much like the sign of the Native American tribal music, binaural beats prep the listener to take action. The action with digitally created binaural beats is to obtain a relaxed state. In this way, binaural beats are much like a traffic light:

“It is something X (a color) that stands for something else, Y (a traffic symbol)… [where the]… human species has come to be regulated by [a] ….’force of history,’ that is, by accumulating meanings that previous generations have captured, preserved, and passed on in forms of signs” (Danesi 2015, p. 4).

Much like a traffic light tells a driver to slow down, go, or stop, binaural beat semiotics, or the sign (Dansedi 2015), conjoins with the functional aspect of digital binaural beats as a signpost allowing entrance to a relaxed state of consciousness.

            Science is tangible and relates to the functional elements of digitally created binaural beats through EEG research. As stated previously, EEG research has concluded that binaural beats do effect brainwave activity through the listener’s exposure. With that, the brainwaves take on a mirroring where they reflect the sound frequencies of the binaural beats (Smith et al 1975. At this point the tangible elements, like the EEG research, outweighs the aesthetics aspects. Binaural beats lack the artistic, emotional, or creative flair that draws a listener in. Though the sound is unpleasant, which is an aesthetic quality, the signposting, fluidity of meaning, and the research on the effects of binaural beats on consciousness elevates the functional aspects. To elaborate, it is impossible for absolute music to have “an aesthetic of absolute zero” (Chua 2006, p. 249); yet, binaural beats remain absolute for they create synthesis between the listener and the activity of meditation. This means that absolutist music, like binaural beats, has meaning in the musical process (Meyer 1956), like the ritual, semiotics, brainwave effects, etc.

Binaural Beats with Additional Instrumentation: Aesthetic vs Function

Digitally created binaural beats are the base-form of binaural beats with instrumentation. This means that the binaural beats lay within instrumented music and go almost unrecognized by the listener. Starting from a state of absolutism, where the music is innate in function (Popp 2014), instrumentation takes binaural beats to an artful stage and becomes the preferred music meditators listen to. The ‘why’ behind this preferences rests in the aesthetic qualities the instrumentation brings. In the case of binaural beats with instrumentation, the qualities elicit aesthetics, while also holding true to the base form functional aspects. Perhaps the line between aesthetic and function remains elusive, which is why binaural beats, depending on the version, embodies one more so than the other.

Aesthetics, coined in the 18th century, involves an object, attitude, value, and an experience, featuring phenomelogical (science) and representational (abstract) context. However, according to Kant, aesthetics is a pleasure, which does not exactly indicate self-interest, but remains a relation to desire. The nature of classifying art as beautiful, or in this case instrumented binaural beats, is disinterested by virtue of being “merely contemplative” (Kant  2000, p. 95) desire. This inner world of thought, the contemplation, comes from the relationship between art and the human senses, where the disinterested state remains subjective from judgements drawn on experiences (Kant 2000). Perhaps this is a form of music identity where one finds a connection or knowledge with their inner-self through contemplation and the music experience.

 Much like Kant’s attempt at reconciliation between the self and other, philosophy has aimed to answer other questions on dichotomy, such as: how can one tie self back with self? Through meditation practices, St. Augustine writes, “return into yourself. Truth dwells in the inner man” (Smith 2003, p. 252). Likewise, Cartesian philosophy emulates the popular Descartes saying, “know thyself” (Smith 2003, p. 252).  This means that universal knowledge can be obtained through insight, which ultimately connects the self with their inner world and their outer world. Through binaural beats instrumentation, the listener has a disinterested experience which allows for reflection. In turn, the music creates an identity of understanding, or connection between self, inner-self, and other.

Another way to view aesthetics is through the Greek interpretation, ‘I perceive, I sense’ (Dorai and Vankatesh 2002). Unlike digitally created binaural beats that rest on their own frequencies, the instrumentation of binaural beats creates an array of musical sound, which allows for the listener to have a full display of musical experiences through sense, or experience, by incorporating elements like: melody, rhythm, harmony, instrumentation, and texture. Since the instrumentation of binaural beats is a genre of music, the music varies and can either embody all or some of these musical elements. Some instrumentation laid over the binaural beats includes: sung lyrics, flutes, ocean sounds, birds chirping, digitally created sounds, violins, etc. Since the listener has a large option of choice, they can decide which binaural beats instrumentation resonates the most in order to enjoy the sound, as well as benefits, of meditation. The ear is stimulated and takes the listener on a journey of self-discovery, relaxation, and meditation, which is a full body experience. Having said this, the elements that embody instrumentation allow for the user to have a unique, sense filled, experience that elevates their meditation practices.


In summary, music is a vast area to explore, allowing for communication and meaning to evoke functional and aesthetic qualities. Specifically, when listening to binaural beats, the listener can transcend into different states of consciousness, where the frequency of the soundwave and the brainwave align into delta, theta, mu, alpha or beta waves (Smith et al 1975). This is similar to Tibetan bowls, where the frequency of 432Hz provides meditators with alignment to a meditative state (Shrestha 2009). Unlike Tibetan bowls, on their own binaural beats sound awful. This is due to the two-tone frequencies being closely related, weaving in and out to create a third perceived unflattering beat (Lynd-Kyle 2009). In turn, this pulsating remains a functional element where the listener stays alert in the present moment, for binaural beats on their own lack most aesthetic qualities other than a distaste of sound. However, when binaural beats have laid over instrumentation, the sound becomes the preferred way to gain meditation benefits, for the binaural beats rest in the background and are masked by the instrumentation. This is where the senses are stimulated, allowing for the listener to catch feelings through the varied uses of melody, rhythm, etc. From here, the user has a connection with their inner self and is able to reconcile themselves with the world, which not only gives a brainwave change (functional) but an awakening of self-awareness (aesthetic).

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Barbour, J.M. 1933. The Persistence of the Pythagorean Tuning System [online].

Bonds, M. A. 2014. Absolute Music: The History of an Idea [online]. Oxford University Press

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Cornelius, S. and Natvig, M. 2016. Music: A Social Experience [online]. Routledge.

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Danesi, M. 2004. Messages, Signs and Meanings: A Basic Textbook in Semiotics and Communication [online]. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press.

Densmore, F. 2001. Teton Sioux Music and Culture [online] University of Nebraska Press.

Dorai, C. and Vankatesh, S. 2002. Media Computing: Computational Media Aesthetics [online]. Springer.

Godbe, J. 2018. Stillpoint: the Geometry of Consciousness [online]. James Ross Godbe

Hiew, C. C. 1995. Hemi-Sync into creativity. Hemi-Sync Journal, 8(1), 3-5.

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 Kennerly, R. C. 1994. An Emperical Investigation into the Effects of Beta Frequency Binaural Beat Audio Signals on Four Measures of Human Memory [online]. Wester Georgie College, Carrolton, Georgia. Dept. of Psychology.

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O’Callaghan, C. A. 2016. The Tapestry of Me: Through Sacred Geometry [online]. Balboa Press.

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Patel, A. 2010. Music, Language and the Brain [online]. Oxford University Press.

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Popp, H. 2014. Discovering the Creative Impulse: A Study in the Interrelated Arts [online]. Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press.

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Woodward, M. 2016. Brainwave Entertainment Plus: Make Binaural Beats & Isochronic Tones on Your PC for Hypnosis, Relaxation, Meditation, & More [online]. Lulu Press.

Nature Photography: Photo Competition

The University of Wolverhampton Researchers Week takes place 20th – 24th June 2022. I entered the photo competition to reflect my PhD work and would love your vote! Votes are open to the public and can be made here:

The Annual Research Conference (ARC) takes place on 20 June 2022 and kicks off Researchers’ Week (20 – 24 June 2022).

Researchers’ Week aims to provide researchers with the opportunity to develop their research skills and knowledge development, as well as their networks with other researchers and their community of practice. 

This year’s theme is ‘Inclusivity in Research’ and we will be linking up with the University’s Inclusivity Conference.

Doctoral Depictions Photo Competition 2022

As part of Researcher’s Week and ARC2022, Doctoral Depictions is another way in which we can share the breadth and quality of research being undertaken by research students and is also an opportunity for students studying at a distance to take part in the conference activities.

Our Research Students are asked to submit a photograph, title and description that represents their research. Images can be edited and a range of effects can be added but it must be their own work. The image can represent the specifics of the research project, the research journey, or the approach to undertaking research, etc..

Winner: The Ayokunle Falana Award for Leadership 2022

About the Awards

The Students Union Awards 2022 was hosted by the University of Wolverhampton Students Union 26th May 2022 at the Molineux.

The 11th annual awards ceremony had 19 awards to be awarded.

“This is the opportunity for students to show recognition and celebrate the achievements of University academic and non-academic staff, SU Staff and students who have helped make your life at University better.” – Students Union (University of Wolverhampton).

The Ayokunle Falana Award for Leadership Criteria:

  • Brings people together.
  • Motivates and inspires others to aim high and achieve (academically and non-academically)
  • Demonstrates exemplar behaviour and leads by example.
  • Nurtures talent.
  • Is courageous and stands up for others.


“Madison has put her heart and soul into creating and running the Doctoral Students’ Society for two years. She has created all our social media content from scratch, she manages all our event bookings and supervises the majority of our hang out sessions, even when she is super busy with all her own work as well. Madison continuously adapts the Society events to whatever the students need it to be; her passion is always to make everyone feel at home and to make sure that they know they have supportive friends here at the University. Her commitment and her dedication kept the DSS going all through the pandemic, and we have made lifelong friends because of her tenacity and her spirit. My student experience has been 100% improved by her.” – Anonymous

And the winner is….

Madison Miller

“Often I do work behind the scenes, making plans, promoting events, bringing people together. It’s a good feeling to know that not only is this effort seen and appreciated, but it has made a difference. I want to thank those students that went above and beyond for nominating me for this award and I look forward to building our friendships together.” – Madison Miller

To view previous winners visit:

Winner: West Midlands Mental Health Star Awards 2022

The West Midlands Mental Health Star Awards 2022, hosted by ITV’s The Chase, the Sinner Man, Paul Sinha, was LIVE 25 May 2022.

Music and Mental Health Group was shortlisted for the Collaboration Award 2022, to recognise individuals and organisations who have come together in a new way during the pandemic to support the mental health and wellbeing of people.

The shortlisted nominees for this award are:
Living Well UK
Noah’s Star/Sociability Care C.I.C.
Music and Mental Health Group
Coventry City of Culture Trust – Reform the Norm

And the winner is…

Music and Mental Health Group

Engaging with a sector uniquely affected by lockdown periods and less supported than many other sectors to make the most of the therapeutic value of music was key to the group winning this award.
Michelle Assay and Madison Miller attended the virtual event to accept the award on behalf of the committee.

Learn more about the West Midlands Mental Health Awards here.

“‘I want to thank Michelle and our other committee members for teaming up and making music and mental health group become a reality. Mental health is a growing crisis in the UK and I am thankful to our team for creating a space for music professionals and researchers where resources, ideas, and stories can be shared.” – Madison Miller

Core Opulence Now on Spotify & SoundCloud




I am happy to announce Core Opulence is now available on Sportify and SoundCloud.

Core Opulence is a PhD music project that focuses on nature sounds and soundscapes. With my PhD research, I focus on YouTube as my primary source of soundscape sharing. This is due to a familiarity with this platform and my own experiences listening to and participating in YouTube guided meditations, ambient music, and other soundscapes. However, I understand offering soundscapes only on YouTube limits my listeners, and I am thrilled to be branching out to other platforms to help boost accessibility.

What to expect?

Spotify and SoundCloud will have condensed versions of the my nature soundscapes. This is a practical choice as I learn more about these platforms and might change in the future. I will also upload the same nature photography associated with my soundscapes that apply to the full-version YouTube video.

For example, the Rainy Stream Soundscape, in video format, is paired with a dark photo of leaves and water droplets with a duration of 2 hours 40 minutes on YouTube. For Spotify and SoundCloud, the same Rainy Stream Soundscape audio is cut down to 10 minutes, in MP3 format, and paired with the same photography as the album cover.

Rainy Stream Soundscape on SoundCloud:

Rainy Stream Soundscape on YouTube:

Rainy Stream Soundscape on Spotify:

Core Opulence Now on Eventbrite

We are thrilled to announce a new adventure. Core Opulence is now on Eventbrite, where online and in-person events will take place starting Summer 2022.

Core Opulence Music is a PhD project inspired by Doctoral student Madison Miller. The purpose of the project is to explore music through soundscapes, field recordings, soundwalks, nature sounds, etc. and document how others react to the music experience. Core Opulence aims to bring meditation music and meditation retreats to online spaces if you cannot attend in-person events.

Core Opulence explores the power of soundscapes through meditation and relaxation. Join in-person or online events for your own meditative experience listening to nature field recordings and ambience.

Follow our Eventbrite page to stay up-to-date:

Immersive Soundscape Exhibit May 2022

Join Madison Miller, PhD researcher in soundscapes, for an immersive soundscape experience 18th May 2022 at the University of Wolverhampton Walsall Performance Hub.

Miller will present work which combines nature sounds and nature photography collected during her self meditation walks. This mixed media approach is part of her PhD research where she looks at how sounds paired with photography may inspire relaxation.

What to expect:

Miller’s work will be available to view at Walsall’s performing arts centre in room WH124. The space will be transformed into a dark room with surround sound speakers, TV screen for the visuals, and cushions for you to sit.

Symposium discussion:

At 1:30pm in the Theatre Miller will discuss the creative process and give an overview of her PhD research. She will also take questions about her project.

Can’t make the art show?

If you are looking to experience Miller’s soundscapes, you can visit her YouTube channel, Core Opulence:

Event details:

This event is hosted by the University of Wolverhampton, FABSS.

Location: WH The Performance Hub, Gorway Rd, Walsall WS1 3BD

The Uses of Literature: The Arts, Culture and Wellbeing in Times of Crisis (Art Exhibit)

What can the arts and literature do in the face of enormous catastrophe? Help us celebrate the vital necessity of art!

Date and time

Wed, 30 March 2022

16:30 – 18:30 BST


Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Lichfield Street



About this event

We are currently living through what feels like an unending series of international crises that are having a major impact on individuals and societies across the globe: a pandemic, war, and climate change are posing pressing questions about the future of an already precarious planet earth. What can the arts and literature do in the face of enormous catastrophe? Research shows that reading, writing, and other creative engagement can benefit wellbeing: it can relieve stress, anxiety and depression and forge a stronger community, for instance. What other effects can arts and literature have besides offering solace and critical perspectives? How can fiction help to counter fake news? How can it ameliorate trauma?

The Centre for Transnational and Transcultural Research invites you to this literary salon that brings together students and staff from the Humanities and beyond with the public to ask questions about the role of literature, culture and the arts in society – especially at a time of crises. You’ll be able to enjoy performances of literary work and engage in debates about the role of culture in our world – but most of all celebrate the vital necessity of art.

Performances and panel discussions with:

Max Berghege

Dr Daisy Black

Dr Lisa Blower

Dr Aidan Byrne

Charlotte Dunn

Dr R. M. Francis

Professor Sebastian Groes

Madison Miller

Ifemu Omari

Nneoma Otuegbe

Daniel Wiles

Free Registration on Eventbrite

Constructing a Soundscape with Self-Meditation Walks

My History of Self-Meditation with Nature Walks

When I lived in the USA, I was undiagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety, and C-PTSD. Leaving my mental health undiagnosed and untreated led to ordinary or day-to-day tasks, like going to work, extremely difficult. My life was impacted in various aspects including, lack of self-care, poor sleep patterns, poor ability to maintain healthy relationships, experiencing little pleasure or happiness, and dreading going to work or university. With all this chaotic energy, I began to take on a negative headspace and often wished I would die.

I ran on empty a lot of the time and only found myself pushing forward because of the overwhelming feelings of needing to be responsible and reliable for others.  I was living for others rather than myself, which is a dangerous combination. This eventually led to needing constant outside validation for me to find purpose and meaning.

If it was not for my nightly walks during my breaks at work, looking at the stars and listening to music, I don’t think I would have had the will to push through my sadness, low self-esteem, and low self-worth. That is because these 1am walks let me experience joy and beauty whilst being surrounded by stars. I was also alone during these walks and did not have to worry about anyone else but myself. I was able to connect to nature and music, which brought me relief from the emotional pain and conflicts I experienced.

It was not until I moved to the UK that my mental health became a priority. Even though I pushed through barriers brought on by my undiagnosed mental health and was able to move to a different country, I was secretly suffering and found it difficult to do day-to-day tasks. I was no longer able to leave my student accommodations. I avoided any public places which led to missing lectures, avoiding friendships, or even doing walks that often brought me relief.

Getting Mental Health Support with CBT

I knew something had to change and wanted to change so badly. I was scared though, with the fear that even if I tried these feelings would never go away. Likewise, if these feelings did leave me, I would lose a sense of who I was. I combated the fear and began Cognitive Behavioral Therapy treatment. The first round of therapy focused on my social anxiety and offered coping skills that could help me get outside again. CBT also challenged me to expose myself to my fears of going outside in a healthy way, by holding myself accountable each week to my recovery. I still remember my first walk during this time, I listened to my music and walked to the beach. I was able to once again connect to nature and music, which was always a place of comfort and peace for me. With time, I was able to build up my courage and go outside to attend lectures, hang out with friends, and find a job, but each day was always a battle between myself and anxiety. Sometimes anxiety would win and I could not leave the house for the day.

Even though it has been about 5 years since my initial CBT treatment, I still struggle with getting outside and being in social spaces. I often need to use the coping strategies I have picked up along the way to help push me forward. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, but it is important to not be hard on myself the days I can’t leave the house.

One technique to help remind myself that I am in a safe environment is to use my 5 senses. For example, if I go to a coffee shop, I can hear the chatter of the patrons or the music playing from the radio. I can feel the hot coffee cup and taste the coffee. I can smell the coffee brewing. I can see my surroundings and find a comfortable place to sit.  This is a technique I go to often, as it helps ground my anxiety and help my brain process, I am safe and no longer in the past trauma that brought on my mental health disorders.

Self-Meditation and PhD Research

Going on these walks with my music and camera is something I have consistently done since the first round of CBT. It has become a way of me feeling through my emotions and finding a balance that alleviates my emotional pain. I decided to call them ‘Self-Meditation Walks’ because it is a form of meditation for me, where I use mindfulness to become mentally clear.

Though I practice various forms of meditation, all of which have inspired my PhD research, I want to focus on the self-meditation walks because this is the primary way I collect field recordings and photography for my soundscape design.

Constructing a Soundscape with Self-Meditation Walks

I began taking field recordings (on my phone) of my walks when I was inspired by the sound of rain during a walk in 2019. At that time, I found a nature reserve near my home and would often go a few times a week. I noticed that the rain hitting leaves or hitting the pond made a different sound. Once spring came, the rain sounds turned to birds chirping, and I had new sounds to experiment with.

I also found the environment to be inspiring and began taking my camera to document the changing seasons of that nature reserve. Sometimes I do not pack my professional camera and end up taking photos or videos from my phone. Typically, the photos I take on my phone are used for social media, like Instagram posts or TikToks.

Below is an example of a TikTok I’ve made from the self-meditation walks:

Click here to watch:

My Current Practice

My current form of self-meditation walks still operates similarly to how it first began. I found a few more parks and nature reserves near my home and go for my walks. Since my anxiety levels my be unpredictable day-to-day, my walks are also unpredictable. Sometimes I am able to go a few times a week, sometimes I am not. On the days where I feel intense pressure and can’t fight my anxiety to leave the house, I explore my house and find sights or sounds that inspire me. For instance, we recently had a storm and I took field recordings of the wind from my phone. I think took photos from my window. I plan on making a soundscape from this experience and will share it in the future.

On the days where I am hesitant on leaving the house, I can push myself to go if I have something to look forward to doing. Oftentimes, I use coffee as my motivation. We have a variety of coffee shops near my house. Walking in public places, like high street, is still difficult for me, so I cope by listening to music along the way. This allows me to drown out surroundings I find scary, fear of judgement, fear of not being good enough, and focus on something that balances my mood.

Below are some photos shot from my mobile phone from a recent walk:

Future Research

My soundscapes are generated by the walks I take alone with myself as a form of self-meditation. I plan on taking this observation and exploring research in topics like multi-sensory environments and meditation, or music, senses, and photography. I also would be interested in exploring other soundscape artists and whether they use meditative practices for their soundscape designs.

As far as auto-ethnography, I think it is worth exploring the tendencies I have and choices I take when developing a soundscape.

Follow my PhD Journey:




Visit my website:

January 2022 Launch: Music and Mental Health Group

About the Music and Mental Health Group Launch

The Music and Mental Health Group will launch at the 2022 BFE / RMA (British Forum for Ethnomusicology and the Royal Musical Association) Research Students’ Conference at the University of Plymouth. The website will also go live at this time, allowing for members to view content and sign up to the mailing list.

This conference is “aimed at undergraduate and postgraduate music students, music academics and music practitioners, the conference will have an interdisciplinary focus drawing on the expertise in composition, music technology and practice-as-research of the world-leading Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research” – University of Plymouth

Register here:

Join the Workshop

During the 2022 BFE / RMA Research Students’ Conference a Music and Mental Health Workshop is scheduled. During this time, the Group will be introduced and delegates will take part in some activities provided by the University’s mental health group on techniques to deal with stress and recognizing mental health issues.

About Music and Mental Health Group

‘Music and Mental Health’ aims to raise awareness of the mental health crisis among musicians through the prism of music education, creation and performance. It offers a platform for the promotion and fostering of research and collaboration concerning the interaction of music and mental health. It provides a safe space for the exchange of experiences and stories, and an evolving database of Mental Health resources. The Group promotes inclusivity, diversity and inclusion, addressing music practitioners, scholars, students of all backgrounds, in particular groups currently at risk. We pay special attention to non-affiliated and freelance individuals as well as immigrants and non-UK students and musicians.

To get involved, sign up to our mailing list or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Being a Digital Officer for a new Study Group

As the Digital Officer/ Marketing Coordinator, I have volunteered my time to help launch the Music and Mental Health Group. Some of my responsibilities include:

  1. Logo creation
  2. Marketing message / mission statement
  3. Build & maintain website
  4. Develop & run Twitter & Facebook
  5. Assist with communications / mailing list

The launch of Music & Mental Health has been in the works for a few months. Inspired by the Covid-19 Pandemic, the committee came together during a time where mental health was impacted to those in the music sector. We hope to continue developing the group to bring a space to share stories and offer resources to those in need.

Winner of SU Society of the Year (2020 & 2021): Building a Successful Doctoral Students Society


About the Doctoral Students Society

The Doctoral Students Society (DSS) is a post graduate researcher society at the University of Wolverhampton. Established in December 2019 by three dedicated PGRs (committee list below), the society aims to bring doctoral students together for social events, networking, and sharing of ideas.

The DSS welcomes anyone from full-time to part-time, international, and from any discipline. The DSS also offer online social spaces for those who cannot attend our social outings. However, during Covid-19, all social events were moved to strictly online platforms.

The Doctoral Students Society brings doctoral students together, creating a strong community on campus. The DSS currently have 94 members on their mailing list.

Building a Successful Society

The success of the DSS comes down to filling the needs of PGRs. There was a lack of PGR communities on campus and the DSS fills the gap through academic and social events, including study groups and hang out sessions, to get to know like-minds and develop friendships. However, networking and marketing the society also contributed to its growth.

Here is our advice on how to make a successful society:

  • Attending Freshers Fair (and ReFreshers)- setting up a booth, a virtual booth, providing an introduction video about the society, and having a Q+A. Even though this event might be catered to undergraduates, post-grads who are trying to get to know their university or looking for connection might attend.
  • Working with Students Union – promoting events on the Students Union webpage and having a landing page on the SU website. Example:
  • Working with the Doctoral College – adding events to the newsletters & PGR almanac (timetable of events), as well as word of mouth promotion of the society.
  • Attend inductions – formally introducing the DSS during inductions, this is a great place to get new PGRs interested in the society.
  • Offering a variety of events (virtual and IRL) – trial and error your events to figure out what students are interested in and what times they are available. We discovered our study groups (10am) and group hang outs (8pm) are the most attended. You can try other events such as: game night, movie night, group outings, etc.
  • Maintaining a mailing list – we aim to send a DSS newsletter once a month and a separate email for upcoming events. Our newsletters include changes to the society, open forum for Q+A, introductions to new PGRs, and other news.
  • Social media – Twitter is a hot spot for academia. We currently use Twitter and Facebook to help promote our society and share information we also send out in our newsletter: Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to receive regular updates. 
  • Providing a safe place for comments/ concerns about university studies.
  • Making sure all paperwork is in order – maintain your society every year by renewing your society with your SU, also remember to file the risk assessments for meetings and frequently check SU communications.
  • Create a separate email account that is dedicated to the society rather than using your personal email/ student email. We used to help us stay organized with communications.
  • Create logo and hashtag that help establish online presence. Our logo is:

Winning SU Society of the Year: 2020 and 2021

The Students Union awards at the University of Wolverhampton ran for the past 11 years. This is an opportunity for students to show recognition and celebrate the achievements of University academic and non-academic staff, SU Staff and students who have helped make your life at University better.

The DSS had the honor of being nominated for the 2020 and 2021 awards, as well as winning the awards, two years in a row!

To learn more about previous winners please visit:

Meet the committee:




Reimagining the art of listening: Soundscape design paired with photography (BARN Virtual Colloquia)

Happy to share I will be presenting my research: Reimagining the art of listening: Soundscape design paired with photography.

Join me on 11/11/21 at the British Audio-Visual Research Network (BARN) Virtual Colloquia, an international, virtual community of scholars and practitioners from all disciplines engaged with the study of music and sound in audio-visual media.

To learn more, please visit:

Abstract: Sounds are elements that make up the environments we interact with. With our perceptions, sounds are associated with certain locations, like the whispers in a library, or the laughter at a comedy show. These sound signposts can be recorded through field recordings and manipulated to capture the essence of the environment, transforming the audio into a soundscape. Since the conception of soundscapes in 1977 from R. Murray Schafer, soundscape design and understanding has changed, now often including visual elements to the soundscape piece, the most popular being in movies and video games.

My current research is inspired by YouTube presentations of soundscapes, which include images paired with sound in a video format. I am looking to see how listeners interact with soundscapes paired to photography, particularly if positive responses can be evoked from the listener. My work is also built from guided meditation, but rather than using speech to guide the listener throughout the music, I use field recordings paired with my photography.

I will share my current works (generated closer to the time of presenting) and explain the creative process, output of soundscapes paired with photography, and how images can transform the understanding of soundscapes.

Biography: Madison Miller is a PhD candidate studying soundscapes at the University of Wolverhampton. Originally from the United States, Madison received her BA in in Philosophy, Psychology, and English in 2015 from Millersville University. Later, she moved to England in 2017 to pursue her MA in Media and Communication at Bournemouth University. In the past, she ran the Millersville University Philosophical Society. She currently runs the Doctoral Students Society at Wolverhampton.


The audio was recorded in London, UK at midnight. The photo with this video is a photo I shot at the recording location. I am collecting different sounds and making immersive experiences for my PhD research project in music. Ultimately, I am looking to see how sound impacts the mind and body. Feel free to share your experience with this recording below in the comments section or share on social media using the hashtag #CoreOpulence.

What I’ve Learned after Organizing a Symposium

Earlier this year I was voted to be a Student Committee Member for the Royal Music Associations (RMA). With this role, the Student Committee (made up of 6 dedicated students) engage with the RMA student community and aim to bring students and research together: The RMA Student Committee liaises between the wider student body and the RMA, acting as a voice for students in the RMA and taking an active role in shaping and promoting student-related activities of the RMA.

This year the RMA teamed up with Netherlands’ Koninklijke Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis (KVNM) to organize a student symposium which took place on 3rd & 4th July 2021, via Zoom.

About the symposium

KVNM-RMA International Postgraduate Symposium in Music Research, 2021

The two oldest musicological organisations in the world, the UK’s Royal Musical Association (RMA) and the Netherlands’ Koninklijke Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis (KVNM), brought together postgraduate researchers from the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK, with the aim of stimulating and developing national and international collaborations across the field. The two-day symposium featured paper presentations showcasing current research related to music in the broadest sense.

What was my role?

As someone who has a degree in media & communication, I took on the task of promotion and communication. This involved using social media to promote the event and encourage participation, as well as drafting/ monitoring the email communication between the RMA/ KVNM and the speakers.

Another task was to read each submission and help decide who would be offered a speaker position at the event.

Finally, I also chaired the 3rd session on 3rd July 2021. This role was to ensure each speaker used their allocated speaking time appropriately.

What have I learned from this experience?

The biggest lesson learned from organizing this event is how vital it is to work as a team. Each person who volunteered to bring this event to life had unique skills and abilities which made for delegating tasks easy and splitting the work-load effortless.

In order to stay as organized as possible, we held meetings, took meeting minutes, made agendas, set goals, and overall used a collaborative approach when making decisions. We had a mix of volunteers, some with previous symposium experience and some not, which allowed for a flow of direction and welcoming of out-of-the-box ideas.

Overall, there are a lot of little details that need to be sorted out in order to organize a symposium. From establishing an email, to a website landing page, to ticket orders, to drafting a booklet, there is plenty to be done. I thank all volunteers who joined me to make this happen and admire the hard work everyone put in to making this symposium such a success.

Below is a snippet from the KVNM-RMA International Postgraduate Symposium in Music Research 2021 booklet: