Market Music

January 3, 2014 8:41 PM

A full year of the stock market translated into a reggae song of sorts, to go along with an animated data visualization I created.

This song is composed from data. It translates the ups and downs of the 2013 stock market into musical notes. For every day, a piano, an organ, and a guitar come together to form reggae-like chords on the off beat of the song. There are only two chords -- a higher-pitched one for days that ended with market gains, and a lower-pitched one for days that ended in a loss. Weekends and holidays "carry the chord" from the last trading day, so if a Friday was up, the weekend gets the high pitch as well.

On top of this chord framework is a melody line played by a pure keyboard sound that starts out as a bass instrument, and ends up as a bright digital tone. The pitch for each note is determined by the daily closing numbers of the S&P 500. Each note covers 10 points on the index, so if there was very little movement from one day to the next, the same note is played twice.

posted by edlundart (10 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

Too funny. And genius.
So wait; how did you calculate the time signature and changes, given that different months have different days, etc.?
posted by chococat at 11:09 PM on January 3, 2014

Thanks -- this really is a good example of taking an idea and running with it. Reeeeaaally far.

I didn't concern myself with time signatures beyond getting the reggae feel right and then doing a whole lot of counting. I simply got the beat down, with the organ/piano/guitar pseudo-"skank," and copied that a zillion times. I kept a spreadsheet of date, market close, animation frame number, assigned melody note (based on market close number), and then a column for whether the market close was higher or lower than the previous day.

I used that last column to vary the chord played by the skank -- so for example, I started with the "up" chord for January 1 and 2, then the "down" chord for Jan 3, then the "up" chord again for Jan 4, etc. I essentially just kept counting so that the twenty-fifth chord played corresponded to the 25th line in my spreadsheet, and so on (it actually was more complicated than that for various reasons, but that's the gist of it).

Then for the melody line I did the same thing -- there is basically a grid to it, and I'm just counting squares and determining pitch based on the data. I had a basic drum track distributed over my whole timeline, but I inserted fills near the transition from month to month. And of course, as you mention, because each month has a different number of days, that stuff kind of shifts around -- and the weekends and holidays help create interesting melodic variation as well, as they provide gaps in the melody. Without that, it almost wouldn't sound melodic, whereas having them "auto-wrote" decent melody lines.

Someone on Twitter said this is "in E aeolian." I'm not smart enough to know if that's true.
posted by edlundart at 11:37 PM on January 3, 2014

this is awesome. this is fpp awesome. Would that be frowned upon, y'think?
posted by es_de_bah at 9:03 AM on January 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

Makes me want to invest in something.
posted by dobie at 12:03 PM on January 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks, all!

es_de_bah, I don't think that would be frowned upon, perhaps except by reggae purists! dobie, me too, especially if I could go back 12 months in time and do it then...
posted by edlundart at 9:58 PM on January 4, 2014

Amazing, watching the visualization with this music is very surreal.
posted by Corduroy at 9:21 AM on January 5, 2014

Wow. It's one thing to come up with this idea, but a whole nother thing to actually see it through. I like the lopsided 5 beat + 2 beat pattern that the length of the week makes happen.

Now it would really be something if you could mine some data so that the dissonance of the harmony depended on something connected to low-end wages or long-term unemployment.
posted by umbĂș at 11:41 AM on January 6, 2014

es_de_bah, there's always the option of posting the Projects page as a FPP :)
posted by TwoWordReview at 12:19 PM on January 6, 2014

Holy balls. That is so cool.
posted by greenish at 1:23 PM on January 8, 2014

posted by micayetoca at 7:25 AM on January 29, 2014

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