New Music Plays the Market

Emerald SuspensionEmerald Suspension has created a CD of experimental music that plays the market – conceptual audio arrangements are structured based on patterns created by the stock market, economic indicators, algorithms, and other data sources.

What’s it sound like? It’s definitely experimental, incorporating
found audio, random elements and lots of creative weirdness. As one
reviewer put it, “these guys certainly get an A for effort and

Playing the Market integrates concepts, structure, and source data as
part of each arrangement. The resulting tracks range from minimalist orchestral pieces to conceptual industrial audio art.

The structural components of some of the pieces in the collection are summarized below:

  • “Long Bond” is a requiem string solo. Notes in this piece are based
    on the pattern of interest rates since 1926 as represented by the yield
    of the 30-year Treasury bond. Higher notes equate to higher interest
    rates and lower notes reflect the lower rates experienced over time.
  • “Irrational Exuberance / Great Depression” is a composition for
    piano that reflects the investor psychology that drives the stock
    market and the economy as a whole. Notes and expression changes are
    determined by the historical patterns of the Consumer Confidence Index.
    Major chords indicate long term shifts and minor chords denote
    short-term shifts in consumer confidence. Changes in the tempo of the
    piano solo correspond to historical changes in the index value. The
    background sound is a piece of musique concrete featuring the processed
    sounds of an antique ticker tape machine.
  • “Fibonacci’s Random Walk” is algorithmic music interspersed
    throughout the recording. The piece is inspired by two competing
    theories about the pattern of stock market returns. Some theories hold
    that stock prices follow predictable patterns and others state that
    markets are efficient, with price changes following a ‘random walk’.
    One specific theory about stock price patterns states that patterns are
    governed by cycles founded upon the Fibonacci number series
    (1-1-2-3-5-8?€?). The instrumentation, pitch, and duration of notes in
    this composition are based on that number series – Then, random
    deviations from that specific pattern are inserted throughout the
    performance to represent the efficient market hypothesis.
  • “Bulls and Bears of the World” includes percussion parts inspired
    by the historical price patterns of various global stock markets. The
    melody represents the returns of the aggregation of the world stock
    markets. Audio samples of bulls and bears are inserted at the
    appropriate points in time to represent notable global stock price
    increases and decreases.
  • “Industrial Century” is an orchestral composition based on 100
    years of daily stock market data. Long, intermediate, and short-term
    trends in the US stock market over the course of the 20th century are
    represented in the piece. Changes in pitch follow the pattern of high
    and low returns of the stock market while the dynamics of the various
    parts included in the arrangement are appropriately determined by
    market trading ‘volume’.
  • “The Misery Index” is an experimental recording based on the
    historical patterns of inflation and unemployment. Just as some
    economists add these two economic indicators together to arrive at a
    ‘misery index’, this composition combines audio representations of
    each. The instrumentation mixes tuned synthesized noise and bowed metal
    to set an appropriately “dismal” tone.
  • “National Debt” is an audio representation of the US National Debt
    as experienced over more than 200 years. Audio events based on debt
    increases result in a ‘rain chime’ effect at the beginning of the
    piece, progressing to the level of a storm by the end.
  • “Stock Options” is an experimental audio composition based on the
    Black-Scholes option pricing model and the Put-Call Parity Theorem. The
    composition is based on stock price, volatility, and interest rate data
    from 1938 to 1995, the life span of Fischer Black, co-creator of the
    landmark option pricing formula. The two parts of the composition
    represent the theoretical price changes of a call option and of a put
    option on the U.S. stock market over the period.
  • “IPO” layers music over a collage of audio samples representing
    money and risk taking, including sounds of an active stock exchange
    trading floor and those of a casino.

Audio samples are available at

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