Disquiet Junto Project 0322: The Wanderer
Make a short piece of music that encourages the 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 encourages 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. She writes, by way of explanation: “The idea is to use musical/acoustic features that convey and evoke sadness in the listener, since in our recent study we demonstrate that sad (compared with happy) music enhances mind-wandering levels (shown both behaviourally and with neuroimaging methods).”
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: instruments able to produce very small intervals and dark timbres (cello, violin, viola, piano, oboe, horn, clarinet)
Instruments number: maximum 3
Speed of music: 30-80 bpm
Length: around 3-5 minutes
Recommended musical/acoustic features: dark and dull timbres, low pitches, legato articulation, falling pitch contour, narrow pitch range, slow tone attacks, low sound level, little sound level variability, microstructural irregularity
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 “disquiet0322” (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 “disquiet0322” (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.
Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on Monday, March 5, 2018. This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, March 1, 2018.
Length: The length is up to you. The instructions suggest roughly three to five minutes.
Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0322” 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 322nd weekly Disquiet Junto project (The Wanderer: Make a short piece of music that encourages the 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 image associated with this project is by Bruno Hotz and is used thanks to a Creative Commons license: