Mind-wandering during contemporary live music: An exploratory study

Juliane Deil, Nina Markert, Philip Normand, Philipp Kammen, Mats B. Küssner, Liila Taruffi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


During a live concert, the mind can wander to unrelated thoughts such as personal concerns or past memories or to vivid images that are inspired by the music. This is an omnipresent phenomenon commonly referred to as mind-wandering. Psychological research on mind-wandering has explored its main characteristics, such as frequency, phenomenology, and impact on mood, both in the laboratory and in daily life contexts. This study aimed to harness the ecological setting of a live music concert to examine the occurrence and content of mind-wandering, as well as visual mental imagery as a mode through which mind-wandering occurs, and its relationship with the concertgoers’ moods before and after the music event. A self-report questionnaire (n = 43) was used to collect data at two concerts of ambient music given as part of the CTM Festival. Findings suggest that mind-wandering occurs extensively in a concert environment. While mind-wandering episodes feature negative themes and moods—in the form of dark content of the visual mental imagery associated with the program’s musical tone—the concert environment still contributes to participants feeling more inspired afterward. Overall, this study points to the potential of live music contexts to stimulate a beneficial style of mind-wandering (i.e., one that leads to a positive impact on mood and imagery), and its findings are in line with those of previous research showing that live concerts lead to increased well-being of concertgoers. Implications for well-being and a call for more systematic research on this subject are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)616-636
Number of pages21
JournalMusicae Scientiae
Issue number3
Early online date26 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Music

User-Defined Keywords

  • ecological approach
  • mood
  • multimodal experience
  • visual mental imagery
  • well-being


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