Disquiet Junto Project 0321: Let's Active

Disquiet Junto Project 0321: Let’s Active
Make a short piece of music that decreases the mind’s tendency to wander, based on research by Dr. Liila Taruffi, PhD, and her colleagues.

Step 1: This week we’re making music that decreases the mind’s tendency to wander. The project was developed in coordination with a Dr. Liila Taruffi, PhD, based on a paper she and her colleagues published in Nature Scientific Reports.

Step 2: No, you absolutely don’t need to have read the 10-page research paper or its 60 footnotes to participate in this project. But … in you’re interested, you can find the PDF here:


Step 3: Record a piece of instrumental music (no voices, no words) based on the following constraints. Use samples, simulations, or approximations of the recommended instrumentation if the instruments are not available:

Instrumentation: banjo, piccolo, xylophone, celeste, glockenspiel, ukulele, toy piano, baritone saxophone, tambourine

Instruments number: max 6

Speed of music: 130-180 bpm

Key: major

Length: around 2 min

Recommended musical/acoustic features: bright timbres, high pitches, much pitch variability, rising pitch contour, fast tone attacks, medium-high sound level, very little microstructural regularity

Here’s some additional background from Dr. Taruffi: “Mind-wandering” or “daydreaming” (i.e., our mind’s tendency to engage in thoughts and images that are unrelated to the here and now, are spontaneously evoked, and naturally flow over time) is incredibly omnipresent, reaching up to 50% of our waking mental activity. Mind-wandering is an internally-oriented cognitive state somehow opposite to focused attention on a task or on a specific sensory input. In the study entitled “Effects of Sad and Happy Music on Mind-Wandering and Default Mode Network”, we (Liila Taruffi, Corinna Pehrs, Stavros Skouras & Stefan Koelsch) tested the idea that music, via emotion, can function as a mediator of these inwardly-oriented mental experiences. In three experiments (two in which participants described their mental state immediately after listening to sad-sounding and happy-sounding music, and a third in which other participants’ brains were scanned as they listened to sad and happy music pieces) we found that sad music, compared with happy music, is associated with stronger mind-wandering and greater activity of the nodes of the Default Mode Network (the main brain network responsible for mind-wandering). Thus, our results demonstrate that, when listening to sad music, people withdraw their attention inwards and engage in spontaneous cognitive processes.

Six More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0321” (no spaces or quotation marks) in the name of your track.

Step 2: If your audio-hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to also include the project tag “disquiet0321” (no spaces or quotation marks). If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to subsequent location of tracks for the creation a project playlist.

Step 3: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 4: Please consider posting your track in the following discussion thread at llllllll.co.

Step 5: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 6: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Other Details:

Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on Monday, February 26, 2018. This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, February 22, 2018.

Length: The length is up to you. The instructions suggest roughly two minutes. (Assume your piece can be played on repeat, or as part of a playlist of similar music.)

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0321” in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, and be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

Linking: When posting the track online, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 321st weekly Disquiet Junto project (Let’s Active: Make a short piece of music that decreases the mind’s tendency to wander, based on research by Dr. Liila Taruffi, PhD, and her colleagues) at:


More on Taruffi, music, and mind-wandering at:


More on the Disquiet Junto at:


Subscribe to project announcements here:


Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:


There’s also on a Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.


The project is now live.

And I suddenly feel the need to note that “max 6” is the maximum number of instruments, not an outdated Cycling '74 product.


Oh, and “cover art” inspired by @ntrier’s introduction of goal trackers in the Goals 2018 thread here on Lines.


I may have missed the tempo, I just never checked and it sounded “130-ish” to me! :slight_smile:

I played a few different tracks of xylophone with Plonk and Rings, and a celeste from Logic through the ER-301 for processing. There was some toy piano, but I thought it was too much in the end.



Fighting The Default Mode was written for Piccolo, Baritone Saxophone, Tambourine, Glockenspiel, Xylophone and Celesta.

The score is available at http://bit.ly/2EKpw9U


Loving this title. x20characters

1 Like

Happy to be on board with this again, had a great time making this. I’ve been struggling with the LCRP-project the last couple of days, mainly because there’s so many possible directions (what a great bunch of samples!), so this was really nice with the limitations and all.

This little tune started out with three different layers of Rings, trying to replicate something like a xylophone. I then fed my Morphagene with samples of tambourines, then some saxophone. To wrap it up I recorded some acoustic guitar that I processed in various ways so it sounded a little more like a banjo.


The playlist is now rolling:


And I got a nice note from Liila saying how cool it is to see “how academic research can turn into artistic practice.”





The brief was quite explicit in terms of key and instrumentation and I’ve tried to be faithful to this, either with the use of acoustic instruments or synthesised equivalents (whilst those equivalents may not be in any way realistic). There’s a kalimba and a ukulele in there.

I don’t think I’ve been entirely successful in the keeping the mind focused bit.


Hello Juntoniates!


I chose one of the instruments and messed with some recordings of an out-of-tune ukulele, played in major key (ish). Tempo 135bpm and a fair bit of the iOS Borderlands Granular, which is great fun to play with if you’ve not come across it.

Have a great week!

h u :slight_smile:


Here is my submission. I think it might be the worst thing I’ve ever created.

I used mostly Ableton presets, with lots of sequencing. I also recorded part of the track into Morphagene and then re-recorded it passed through a filter.


I think this is a very beautiful theme. I’m very excited to listen to what everyone else has done.



142 bpm, using fake banjo, glockenspiel, piccolo, tambourine and baritone sax. Looped. The tracks, not me. Not yet. :slight_smile:



With all due respect to Dr. Taruffi, Suss Müsik isn’t entirely convinced that meta-awareness leads to greater happiness. Then again, Suss Müsik has never tested this theory on 216 participants using neuronal magnetic resonance. Suss Müsik has enough trouble changing the battery on a smoke alarm, let alone investigating the effect of delayed gratification on the prefrontal cortex.

What Suss Müsik does know, however, is that music definitely has some impact on the mind’s natural ability to wander. What might be worth discussion is whether hyper-awareness and emotional balance can be achieved by listening to “happy” sounding music. What sonic attributes make us happy?

This is where accounting for personal taste comes into play. For some, major scales and stick-to-your-ribs melodies evoke feelings of happiness, such as listening to Davy Jones sing “Daydream Believer.” Then there is the drum music of Babatunde Olatunji, which compels players to lock into a single pulse rhythm, generating a deeply hypnotic (some would say euphoric) state of bliss.

Anyway … for this short piece, Suss Müsik attempted to create a sonic environment to serve both goals of distraction and focus. Phrases were written at 154 BPM and played on fake banjo, xylophone, glockenspiel, toy piano and tambourine. Two baritone saxophone parts were played in real time in a single take, hoping to capture variability in pitch contour. Finally, an EWI with a piccolo voice was played through a Red Panda Tensor pedal to randomize the high-end.

The piece is titled Taruffi. The image is magnified grounds of coffee, Suss Müsik’s preferred method of ratiocination.


If this is the worst thing you’ve ever created, you have mega-talent. Very nicely done.


Hey All, This track is result of hours upon hours of loving hands on destruction built upon countless crossfades and knoblature while using as little mental concentration as possible which I am quite used to doing. I was thinking like a doorman at a residential apartment in NYC. He is like lost in space except when he has to open the door every so often. I wonder how much of mental wandering is sexual in nature. I want to do that experiment.

Peace, Hugh


I was quite taken by this week’s premise, on a number of levels - firstly, in how music can help with decreasing mind-wandering [which is probably why so many of us listen to music while working!] and secondly as a personal challenge to write something upbeat and uptempo for once.

I interpreted the recommendation for “variation” and reduced regularity in a slightly different context, where I considered density and movement of sound. Piece is in D Major @ 145bpm.


  1. Tambourine samples
  2. Clouds and Bells VST
  3. Clouds and Bells VST
  4. Clouds and Bells VST with Fifth randomiser and Minor Third Up
  5. Saxophone samples
  6. Toy piano sample

The Junto this week was quite prescriptive, which probably helped as I found the last couple of weeks difficult.

Initially I’d thought about revisiting a piece I’d recorded that had gone nowhere but it quickly became obvious it was still not worth moving on.

Since I have a ukulele I started thinking about chords in a major key. Normally I like minor keys, so it’s good to try something different.

Then I considered how to incorporate the glockenspiel and decided it would be easiest to stay in the key of C.

In keeping everything simple so I wouldn’t be discouraged, I decided to record parts using the video camera.

However I forgot to plug the external microphone in for the ukulele recording and ended up capturing more of my breathing than I’d normally like to include.

I also recorded tambourine and ended up looping it to keep close to the 135bpm.


I did this very quickly. I feel it lets the mind wander briefly, but then brings listener back to focus.