Risky business: Disfluency as a design strategy
This paper presents a study examining the effects of disflu- ent design on audience perception of digital musical instru- ment (DMI) performance. Disfluency, defined as a barrier to effortless cognitive processing, has been shown to gen- erate better results in some contexts as it engages higher levels of cognition. We were motivated to determine if dis- fluent design in a DMI would result in a risk state that audiences would be able to perceive, and if this would have any effect on their evaluation of the performance. A DMI was produced that incorporated a disfluent characteristic: It would turn itself off if not constantly moved. Six phys- ically identical instruments were produced, each in one of three versions: Control (no disfluent characteristics), mild disfluency (turned itself off slowly), and heightened disflu- ency (turned itself off more quickly). 6 percussionists each performed on one instrument for a live audience (N=31), and data was collected in the form of real-time feedback (via a mobile phone app), and post-hoc surveys. Though there was little difference in ratings of enjoyment between the versions of the instrument, the real-time and qualita- tive data suggest that disfluent behaviour in a DMI may be a way for audiences to perceive and appreciate performer skill.