Emerald 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 playingthemarket.com.