Disquiet Junto Project 0322: The Wanderer

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

Key: minor

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.

Other Details:

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:




The project is now live.

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Being off sick with the flu, and fed up of being in bed and reading, I decided to try and do this today. May not be my best work, but it was enjoyable to make and actually fits my mood right now.


This is a self-playing modular synth track, using three sequencers that are interacting, attenuated and sampled at different time points to derive three related sequences, in a minor key. There are also occasional key changes, derived from a fourth sequencer. The three voices were set up to have dark timbres and have slow attacks, with lots of soft modulations to keep some interest.

I made a short video of the opening of this piece, just to show the synth in action on its own - (worlds most boring) video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y624GdOrfs0&feature=youtu.be


I actually wrote/posted this a couple days ago, but in my head it fits the challenge so perfectly that I had to post it here.

The “piano” melody is Just Friends in Sound/Sustain running into a 3 Sisters. The sequencing is done by Orca, an alt firmware for Monomes White Whale. There is a subtle feedback loop that builds as things move along, and a portion of the melody looped and reversed on the ER-301.



Personally I can’t agree Dr. Liila Taruffi’s paper (published in Nature Scientific Reports). She writes, “….our recent study we demonstrate that sad (compared with happy) music enhances mind-wandering levels (shown both behaviourally and with neuroimaging methods).”
For me sad music is not a wandering motivator at all, all the contrary.
So for this junto challenge “Make a short piece of music that encourages the mind’s tendency to wander” I didn’t choose a sad piece, but one that’s been waiting to be finished for over a year, because I considered too wandering.
SO here it is, a divagating fusion piece, with no clear tonal focus, many melody glimpses that never establish completely, and to make it “worst”, something I use sometimes to create a wandering, dreamy feeling that keeps calling somewhere else from the music albeit being part of it: spoken voices mumbling around.
It starts with a famous female politician saying in the late 1940’s

“Humanity is living tremendous days.
A cold materialism wants to mock the tenderness …”

but when you want to focus on that timless idea, it just vanishes. So go ahead and wander with this one.

Fender Rhodes
Electric bass
Acoustic guitar
Spoken voices




Wanted to test out some new virtual instruments anyway so this one was too good to resist!

Chose Cello, Clarinet and Violin to have good tonal difference, but tried to cluster harmonies close together mostly. Generally improvised trying to get a sense of undecidedness.

Instruments / effects are :
Spitfire Alternative Solo strings cello and violin
Embertone Clarinet
CLA-2A compressors
TC VSS3 reverb
J37 Saturation


Hi Disquietians,

When I saw “instruments able to produce very small intervals and dark timbres”, I read “homemade Schmitt trigger oscillator network and RC filter” … If this doesn’t help your mind to wander, maybe nothing will?!

Have a great week!

h u :slight_smile:



My husband @Justmat was the producer on this track. It was originally at 80 bpm and without reverb. So. Thanks, Mat :slight_smile:



20 characters worth of :heart_eyes:

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Here is my version.
I sampled a Bmin chord with my guitar, then play with the sample.
I totally move into something psychedelic. Don’t know if it still fits the constraints.



The theme of wandering is a common one in pop songcraft, exploring a range of sensibilities that don’t always evoke listless melancholy.

“Every night I wander all by myself,” admitted blues great John Lee Hooker in 1951, “thinkin’ about the woman I love.” Contrast that with Dion ten years later, who sounded downright cheerful while boasting “I’m the type of guy who likes to roam around … cause I’m a wanderer [who] roams from town to town.” The Beatles celebrated the benefits of manual labor to achieve mental stability: “I’m fixing a hole where the rain gets in / To stop my mind from wandering where it will go.”

Suss Müsik would argue that these songs are less about wandering and more to do with purposeful distraction. A true wanderer travels seemingly without intention, drawn by cognitive impulses that cannot be explained. “Even I never know where I go when my eyes are closed,” sang XTC in 1989, quite possibly the most resonant lyric on daydreaming ever written.

For this intentionally unstructured piece, Suss Müsik played a series of random, minor-key chords on the piano. Quick blasts of clarinet, violin and fake strings were added and mixed to create a sort of phasing effect. Things go nowhere for a while, like a typical daydream, only to end in an unresolved state. You’ll likely forget you ever heard it.

The piece is titled Raichle after the neuroscientist Marcus Raichle. Dr. Raichle’s work uncovers what he calls the “dark energy” of the brain: electrical patterns emitted during periods of sleep, daydreaming or surgical anesthesia. The image is a magnification of kava tea.


First part is bass and oboe, second part switches out the bass for a cello (which seems to have a weird sound to me). I tries to apply stuff I learned in the Russo book that some of the disquiet members are studying. The first part is meant to be in E Phrygian then going to D Phrygian and then back to E. The second part follows some slowly arpeggiated 7th cords (one note per measure).


Suss Müsik agrees with you. There is something exquisitely uplifting when listening to music that would fit Dr. Taruffi’s description of “sad” music. Frankly, there is nothing more irritating than being subjected to “happy” music when one isn’t quite in the mood to hear it.


So dope when the drums kick in!

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Cooked up a tune this afternoon.

I first made a sampler instrument in Live 10 with a short recording of my girlfriend playing the clarinet, so that’s the main element, chord-y stuff. The same instrument is used to make up a bass voice in the middle section of the track. I then pitched some piano recordings I’ve done in the past and fed them into the re:mix app and improvised some variations of that. Lastly I sampled some Schubert (a string quartet in A minor) from YouTube and played around with that with Morphagene.

A rather slow, dark and ambient track. BPM is 66.



Here’s my contribution to the Disquiet Junto Project 0322. The brief was to make music that encourages the mind’s tendency to wander, again based on a research paper that looked at characteristics of types of music that might evoke this.

The constraints this week were to be entirely instrumental, with dark timbres and small intervals, with suggestions of cello, violin, viola, piano, oboe, horn, clarinet.

Not having any of these kicking around, I used a sampled piano in Native Instruments Kontakt, used the cello waveform for two parts from the Intellijel Shapeshifter module, and a Mannequins Mangrove/Three Sisters combination for the horn part, together with some drone work produced by an Error Instruments Black Noise and Mutable Instruments Rings.

Perhaps most challenging personally was the need to get all these parts playing essentially a four part harmony in a minor key. I typically don’t formally ‘compose’ anything, so it was a great exercise to do.




Minor key wanderings using the three instruments out of the instrument list (piano, cello, clarinet) on this week’s project. I couldn’t help myself and added effects on top, but left them small enough that they might not even be noticeable. I admit I didn’t fully understand whether small intervals meant intervals between note presence or intervals between pitches so I kind of ignored both. Haven’t done a homework in a while, so this was fun!


I hope I managed to squeeze under the deadline! I was away all weekend as my band was playing at a music festival, so here is a short one.

For this week’s Disquiet, I decided to write something in my favourite key - D minor - as a reflection of how the mind drifts into tangents as night descends. Especially as you are trying to sleep! As accompaniment are field recordings of Ashfield Flats [a wetlands near the centre of Perth, Western Australia] at night, from 2017.