Disquiet Junto Project 0515: Talking Cure

I must be waiting in the wrong rooms. I’ve never been to a psychotherapist, but the waiting rooms in my life are typically free of music. Occasionally there’s a tv tuned to daytime talk or more likely cartoons if I’m waiting with my kids. My dentist is partial to the soft rock/pop hits of the 80s/90s/00s - which made for one memorable root canal as he hummed along to Lady Marmalade and I tried desperately to keep from laughing.

Throwing all that background out the window, I made this by playing around with the preset instruments on GarageBand on my phone. ‘Bottle Bells’ sounded relaxing, so I made a little song with that and some other bits. The result was much too sterile, even for a clinical setting, so I recorded it onto cassette and then played the tape through a karaoke machine using the microphone to feedback on itself. Ran that back through GarageBand for a bit more post-production. So the song is talking to itself in a way.

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In their excellent book Healing At The Speed Of Sound, Don Campbell and Alex Doman mention how hospitals are experimenting with “[hiring] trained professionals [who] know how to harmonize with the sonic environment, mask ambient noise, and otherwise shape the auditory environment.”

Although numerous studies have been done on the benefits of sound design in clinical settings, Suss Müsik decided to seek some expert opinions.

Suss Müsik consulted with two friends for this project: one a mental health professional, the other living with the after-effects of a traumatic brain injury suffered a few years ago.

Both agreed that music is preferable to silence when sitting in the waiting area of a therapist’s office. Although neither had any interest in pop or rock music, there wasn’t much support for strictly ambient, shapeless, Enoesque soundscapes either. “I need something that rewards my attention if I choose to actively listen to it,” insisted the friend with a TBI, “I’m also fine if it recedes pleasantly into the background.”

The therapist friend echoed this sentiment, equating the music in a waiting room to the sonic equivalent of a fishtank. “There’s movement, light, shadow, and depth, but nothing that distracts or causes anxiety. The last thing we want is the environment causing mental or emotional friction. Something that functions well with natural light.”

For this short piece, Suss Müsik sought to create an actively calm, pleasantly busy soundscape. Something that rewards limited attention, settles into ambience when necessary, and serves as the auditory fishtank we all need from time to time.

The piece is titled Plume and named after Jenny Plume, a Nashville songwriter who created a music therapy program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and in 2013 released a CD of their works.

This work is licensed under Creative Commons BY 4.0, which allows any remix, adaptation or derivative works from the original. If you like it, have at it.

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A little something to facilitate relaxed brain activity.

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Lovely sounds, but because of its always rising/ ascending feel to it, it doesnt calm me, but affects me in the opposite way. What a strange thing…

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I can imagine many different approaches to music for a psychotherapist’s waiting room, but my current approach was to write ambient music which has a calming effect, but at the same time reflects also the tension before the appointment beginns.

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FWIW me recording this ebow thing yesterday.

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Dr. Bellows does not have a waiting room, instead patients walk a roughly long way in dark corridors, accompanied by presumably non-violent music. Afterwards, many usually feel like talking. Some, however, prefer to stay in the corridors…

The originally intended track title was “keep calm”, so I started with Gongs and euclidian rhythms. I felt the Gongs to be too percussive and a lot of work went into softening the percussive character. My wife listened to the music and found it dark (I do not, I really enjoy this). So maybe this is some kind of sinister psychotherapist …

There is an earlier version, which I decided not to submit, because for me it somehow didn’t fit the idea of “high quality, vintage-looking speakers”, but I like it anyway. If you are interested: here.

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Gear

  • Ableton Live 11 Suite
  • Arturia Keylab 61 mkii
  • Moog Werkstaat-01
  • Korg SQ-1 Sequencer
  • Audacity 3

Instruments

  • Heinbach - Landfill Totems - Kling: Malfunctions
    • Inspired by Nature - Bouncy Notes
    • Ableton MIDI Effects - Scale
    • Valhalla Space Modulator
    • Valhalla Freq Echo
  • Moog Werkstaat-01 (custom patch)
    • Valhalla Super Massive
  • Ableton C78 Bullet Kit
    • Arturia Rev INTENSITY
  • ChowDSP Chow Tape Model
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I recorded a guitar theme, and added some atmospheric elements and field recordings (breath, door closing, rain, etc).

Fender Telecaster>Iridium>Timeline>BigSky>Preamps.

I manipulated and further processed in Ableton running it through some hardware/software. After that I put the entire thing through some MAX patches for variations (endless reverb, granular, freeze, etc).

The original plays first and is followed by a Max iteration.

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I was thinking of the waiting room as preparatory, and a gentle call to let the unconscious rise:

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Various keyboards, the Serge, and shortwave.

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The top post in this thread has been updated with additional details on the translations, and a direct link to all nine of them.

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Calming voices that also advertise services in the therapist’s waiting room.

Sources are mainly old cassettes, and sound pads driving DAW instruments.

“Mood Modification Room”

Most of the cassette-sounding sources are from these old tapes in pic:

Sleep Problems and Relaxor II are some serious 80s-90s self-help/therapy tapes, and provide most of the samples. Horror Sounds looks good but too disturbing for this project. Long flute-like tones are short music notes looped within the DAW - analog/tape tone married with digital convenience. There are two tracks of electronic snare and a simple pad scattered throughout.

I think the end result is a hypothetical therapy office’s muzak loop, not missing an opportunity to soothingly upsell sleep cures and therapy. Its sad that in 30 years sleep problems have remained chronic for many people. Relax, and let yourself go.

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Started out with some soul chords, played with a soothing Rhodes-like. Soothing. I then added guitar and shamisen, bass and a little melody played by a Theremin preset on the Ob-Xa (just to have a bit of crazy in there, as well). Also added some brass, drums and side-chaining the drums into a resonator with delays (it’s the stories of others you don’t quite hear but they are there, in that room). Reverb on top, some compression.

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come in, have a seat | disquiet0515

my first disquiet submission. a chance encounter with this picture on instagram posted by dsqt made me take notice. i didn’t know anything about disquiet before this. i kept staring into this picture, past all the text, and my mind started to drift. It is only a few hours later on revisiting that i read about the project and decided to participate.

the basis of “come in, have a seat” is a field recording of trees in the wind. a few weeks back, on a walk in the neighborhood, the track came on as part of a random selection from my music library. it was comforting to listen to as i walked through a mostly concrete jungle. i checked to see what the track was, and to my surprise, i found it was something i’d recorded nearly 10 years ago for a play - the sound of trees in a gentle wind.

i wanted the listener to begin to feel like they belong.

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im a psychotherapist and i make experimental music so ive given this some thought previously
unfortunately i came to the conclusion that music isnt appropriate: people want different things and some want quiet.
during training, waiting to see my therapist, it struck me that the bland new age music that seemed to be an attempt at alleviating anxiety wasn’t right: i was there to allow myself to be open to anxiety, to work through it. a tacit message that there’s something wrong with anxiety is not necessarily helpful. obviously you dont want to amplify anxiety either though.

i would want waiting room music to communicate authenticity, presence, safety and allow for gentle receptive contemplation
and be truly ambient - inaudible if you didnt focus on it

when im wating for a client i tend to have very quiet classical music on in the background that i can barely hear.

this piece flows between three different instances of iris2. lots of delay and reverb courtesy of ddly, supermassive and ambient reverb. meant to be listened to quietly… but it’s up to you

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Thank you @nikikana, great concept.

I kept thinking of the waiting room in the Sopranos. That was not helpful.

After spending the first two days making binaural beats and getting nowhere I tossed everything and this arrived.
Went back and grabbed the binaural bass frequencies. Added a vocal, deleted it. Added some bass and deleted that too. Now I am in the room waiting…

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hi daniel!! that’s good timing - i made my own little compilation called not not-grindcore recently

20 bands in 20 minutes, all presented in historical order, playing against a background drone generated from napalm death’s “evolved as one”

i find grindcore very cathartic because it channels energy into what i can only describe as “flow”…

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I wanted to create something that I would want to hear in these circumstances - meditative, relaxing. I deliberately kept this simple, using loops and restricting my inputs to only a few notes. I would imagine that this would be played quietly.

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