Author Archives: Natalia Vivas Velasco

History of Music, Music on the brain and more

Today during a flight of 12 hours, with no entertainment on board,  I watch some documentaries about Music that I download previously:

History of Music

  • The origin of music has a strong relationship with echo and resonance caves, and also was originally made to represent the Rhythm of work. (As the workings in the jazz music) Questions: Could the music be always a relief to handle and manage work? When did we lost this community perspective of music? Can we recover the work songs when our digital work is merely cognitive?
  • According to the Evolutionary Sicology, it is the ability to create music what makes us human. I related this also to the creation of a new language…

Important: After mi Viena visit to the music museum I would like to explore another intervention with a box of resonance or a “cave” where people can experience Echo. I have to research more about the cognitive benefits of echo and resonance. I also thought that maybe the echo or resonance is something that makes creatives during a shower.

  • Innovation on music was exploratory also, trial an error. The big discovering was the harmony concept: the simultaneous sound of one or more sound.

Questions: How to create harmony with the life and work “tones”, how to find a perfect tonality and how to do a balance it with music?

  •  The Gregorian music has an important impact in the evolution of music, asGregorianorian calendar that I explored in the study of time previously, was the gregorian chorus who discover the use of the eight tones and define the concept of “octave” (piano is made of octaves)
  • I learned that music notes where graphic representations of the intonations original made by a monk over the lyrics of songs, and also was impacting to discover it was a woman on of the first music composers “Kaccia of Constantinopla”

Power of Music on the Brain

Even this documentary looks a little bit old and with no new references as I expected. It is an amazing summary of what music can do in mental illness, dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. They used a MEG to analyze what music do in the brain and the strong connection with memory, so when people that are ill listen to an important song for them they react and back to them selfs because of the memory.

Reflection: Since my background or previous professional experience is about designing interfaces and digital experiences to make it memorable, I could notice that I’m giving a new point of view to my field from the audio or hearing experience but understanding better the emotion with another stimulus rather than visual, to make a change in people lives and in the organizational culture of companies.


Important day for my intervention

– The original company who was supposed to help me had a lot of concerns about music volume in the workplace, so they suggest me to do it outside the building :/ and I have to move the date and change the idea. (I really don’t want to do outdoor music, or be confused as a street music or standard musical performance)

– Fortunately the company reference to me to the Lifestyle manager of the huge complex of offices, and they will be willing to help in another area of the building and with other companies that casually are digital too!!!

They are offering me the opportunity not just to play in one of the floors of a company of 400 employees, they also will allow me to use the space I will need for exhibitions or performances 😀

I’m so happy and scared! I just need to adjust the previous proposal to identify which company will be willing to help and soon take ACTION! <3

Summary Intervention


How anxiety feels?


Songs users use to relieve anxiety






How musicians and music experts are helping me in this process

During all those weeks I’ve been thinking a lot if what I’m doing is new or it has been done in other spheres, so I decide to look for professional advice about my intervention idea an those are some results and suggestions:

Paul Brown – Musical Guide Beatles Story, Liverpool 

  • “Is a really interesting idea, there is a lot of good academic literature about the affective and emotional response to music in public spaces and workplaces, you should be exploring that. “
  • “Just remind Classical music might be not for everyone and not at all people would like to listen to music while working” 


Natalia Valencia – Music passionate and blogger

“So obviously you already read the books of Oliver Sacks?” (No yet, but now I will)








Julian Gil Rodriguez – Violinist London Symphony Orchestra 

  • “You could involve music students to develop your interventions, is the opportunity to create new scenarios for musicians and make they begin to acquire experience and earn money in an early stage. I´m not sure if a current musician in big orchestras will do it but the new musician generations would love too.”
  • Think about Camera Music and


The first company say yes to my intervention!

After presenting my Intervention Proposal,  The Huckletree will be supporting my musical intervention next September 12th! This company is a co-working space who has services in London and Dublin and it has several startups and companies working there.

According to my research before to do the intervention It is important to understand the musical interest of employees or member who will participate, to prepare a more accurate repertory who connect with emotion. That’s why I have prepared a Survey to send to all potential people who will be in the office.

This survey just has the interest to understand if people listen to music at work, the reasons why they do it and their perception of classical music, the questions where reviewed for Guillermo Medina, MA in History and Phd Student, who has strong experience in Social Studies. I’m planning to apply it also to more people in my social networks.

By the other side Sara Gargía, a professional flautist from Colombia, will be the musician who will be supporting me to play for 20 mins when workers arrive at the office. After the Survey results, we will be preparing the most accurate songs to connect with audience emotion and fits the objective.

In the meantime, I need to think and prepare the best way to record people reactions. My plan is to have a semi-hidden and fixed camera to capture most of the people faces, however, the idea is I can record with my mobile


During all this process I’ve been thinking: How should I measure the anxiety without conditioning people behaviour? I have read about different tools like GAD-7, a questionary to do a “self-report” about General Disorder Anxiety, but… It is the General Disorder what I want to reduce or change? or it is just to reduce the fear emotions during work?. This questions about anxiety measuring and emotions and work has made me overthink what I really want.

In technical terms I would love to reduce the anxiety but to prove it I would have to go deeper in the research of mental health and it physical implications, I have thought in not invasive options like: measuring the people pulse by using their smart watches or record the place with a thermal camera to notice the change, but that will be applied imagination? or standard academic research?. How ever my first intention what to promote or create awareness about work-life balance… but now? I’m still a little bit confuse about it.


  • Severity of anxiety and work‐related outcomes of patients with anxiety disorders
  • The meaning and measurement of neuroticism and anxiety.

  • Scales for the measurement of some work attitudes and aspects of psychological well-being


First stakeholder approach for music intervention

Thanks to the job I found in April, in a Fintech Startup, I had access to the Human Resources area of a networking space complex in London, I already  talk with the event manager about the idea to bring classical music to the office, he shows his interest and suggests I present a formal proposal to scale it to their team.

I did the proposal and I already send it, it was reviewed by my tutor available here. I hope to receive a positive answer soon.

In the meantime, I will have other approaches with two digital agencies in London.

Discoverings about music as anxiety relief


After my second tutorial and after contacting a musician who will help in my intervention, I have been reading about Music Therapy and the role of music to relieve anxiety and stress. According to the article “Implications of Music and Brain Research” by Donald A. Hodges I found some important aspects to understand better what I want to do, and also I found the strong connection with healthcare.


  1. To speak about music is important to understand the concept of noise and music:

NOISE: “Sounds that exist without controls for volume, duration, or cause/effect relations.”


MUSIC: an intentional auditory stimulus with organized elements including melody, rhythm, harmony, timbre, form, and style.”

2. Noise regularly cause fatigue, hyperalert, insomnia, and decreased appetite, some kind of music helps with anxiety but it depends on several factors:

  • The circumstances
  • The listener preferences
  • The intentions
  • Anxiety level
  • Distractions

3. Music therapist exists from decades ago and normaly are professional musicians responsible for the restoration, maintenance, and improvement of mental and physical health. Music therapists work in a variety of settings as part of the healthcare team.

4. There are some effects by music have already tested:

  • Classical music increases heart rate variability, a measure of cardiac autonomic balance (in which increased levels reflect less stress and greater resilience)
  • Rock music decreases heart rate variability (reflecting greater stress).11,12 In students engaged in stressful tasks, lower salivary cortisol levels are noted in those listening to music compared with control subjects, whose cortisol levels increased.13
  • Ins some cases Music could be compared to the opium effect in patients.

5. Music can be designed to reduce anxiety and is the type of music who has more positive effects: relaxation, mental clarity, vigour, and compassion and significantly decreased hostility, sadness, fatigue, and tension.

6. Currently the music therapy is used in several surgery and healthcare procedures as surgeries, cancer trearment, dying patients, among others.

Music therapy may offer benefit to some patients undergoing clinical procedures by helping to divert their attention from potentially unpleasant experiences; however, it may be important to tailor the intervention to patient desires and preferences.

My reflection
If I want to reduce the anxiety in the workplace using classical music… I need to understand better what the users think about classical music and also what are their current music preferences, some other studies show to relief anxiety using music it is important to understand the emotional connection with the songs because sometimes are the memories related to each one who create or evoke another emotion. That What

Originally I was expecting just to use traditional Baroque Music but after readings, now I will use some new popular songs. However, I will do a previous survey into the company I will do the intervention to understand what are their preferences.

Some new sources about music in the workplace:

  • The sound of cooperation: Musical influences on cooperative behavior. KEVIN M. KNIFFIN1*, JUBO YAN2, BRIAN WANSINK1 AND WILLIAM D. SCHULZE1
  • Whistle while you work? A review of the effects of music in the workplace. Karen Landay⁎, P.D. Harms
  • The Effects of a Single Music Relaxation Session on State Anxiety. Smith, Melissa




My process summary

1. First intervention results and class exhibition:

During the class exhibition, I show my first intervention results. I received 8 calendars from people from 4 countries: Colombia, China, México and USA. But just one people shared with me his emotions related to each event.

Learning points:

  • Use of time is something personal and private, however, working time is public and restricting to teams. People may feel observed or judge because their calendars, that’s why maybe I don’t receive more calendars that I expect.
  • Depends on the country people present less free time between each of their activities. The USA was more spaced and flexible while Mexico and China reflect dense time management.
  • On the calendars was possible to see no just working time, also time for dinner or transportation. Reflecting the blending from life and work.
  • Even though I just received one calendar with emotions over it

2. Results from my first tutorial:

After presenting my first intervention, I was encouraged for my tutor to research more about anxiety, since is one of my core research areas. So, I found the following books into the library

Resultado de imagen de emotional brainResultado de imagen de embracing fear

Learning points
Even though I’m still reading the firs book, there are some things to highlight:

  • Anxiety comes from fear and fear related to change. What does the workers have fear of in the office? Time constrains? Expectations? Lose their job? Reputation? Where his anxiety comes from? Are they really anxious or just nervous? How to manage this anxiety at work?  These questions inspire me an intervention: THE HIDDEN EMOTION BOX.
  • To have balance is necessary to understand the connection between mind and body, according to Joseph Ledoux there are two types of reactions of brain conscious feelings and emotional feelings
  • I found new areas to research: Mindfulness, neuroscience, cognitive science.

Because of this books and my interest in brain and mind, I found the online course: “The Science of Well-Being” from Yale University. I’m just in the second week but I found it really helpful to understand better the constrains we have as humans and how we create our owns fears and our values, and the importance to have “nudging” in our lives.

3. My serendipity moment

During my readings, and after the frustration of no receiving any new calendar with emoticons over it. I decide to find another ways of inspiration not just reading.  So I went to a concert in the Royal School of Music and while listening  a Saxophone Quartet, I found a match with the following song:

Music is the perfect blend of mind and body.

  • Music has intervals, times and rhythms
  • Music is teamwork and has the same effort
  • How to create digital team empathy with a group of musicians? This could generate awarness and reduce and anxiety?


4. Tutorial with Richie and Richard

After sharing my serendipity moment . They suggest me to read Focault and Jamming and discard the idea of asking people “hidden emotion box”

Resultado de imagen de jamming book

During the session, I shared my preliminary

5.New intervention idea

Bring to people offices classical music, theoretically proved that relieve stress and anxiety.