Jun

6

 It is interesting that in the recesses of academe there are a few Galtonian souls studying the psychology of music empirically. One thrust pertains to analyzing both speech and music according to pitch perception; how we view music and speech may be quite similar.

One finding, for instance, is that pitch is related to perception of social dominance and submission in both speech and music:

A commentator on the latter article notes that you can accurately predict an animal's size from its pitch.

Do markets have pitch and do they invite psychological responses with messages of submission (come hither) and dominance (threat)? Could we explain behavioral finance phenomena in the same terms as behaviors in the wild, communicated by the pitch of animal sounds?

It's a fascinating literature. Rhythm (shifts in frequency of ticks) might just be a consequence of pitch, as speculators respond to market communications. Perhaps it's no coincidence that rising markets are so inviting; falling markets so threatening. 

Todd Tracy writes: 

 Emotional stability in musical rhythm goes a long way on the road to complex weaving of interactions. It is best not to get too carried away with the music as it is occurring and to keep an observant eye on possible upcoming change ups in the rhythm, however, not to be so observant as to get cold.

In my capacity as a producer of commercial types of music one of my most important tools is the use of tension and its undoing. I would tend to think that as human beings we would react emotionally to the tension in a universal way, the shiver that runs down your spine when you hear a section of a particular song. Breaking away from the expected syncopation in such a way as to capture the attention of the listener, not as a total distraction but as a way to lead the listener into the enfolding polyrhythm. One cool way to capture attention is to have the band just stop in the middle of the verse, for one beat and then continue on as if you never skipped a beat. You can usually only get away with that one once per song.

A technique I have been using for awhile to further the management of syncopated air-pressure is the use of a "ghost track". Rather like an "invisible hand" simulation in that music is played on top of a prearranged rhythm and then that rhythm is removed from the mix as it were. The ghost track can be a drumbeat, a whole other song or just about any kind of rhythmic audio. Tempo and rhythm modeling can help the music to feel more spontaneous as even the best musicians will tend to play up to and around the beat. After the original beat is removed the music is left precariously dangling on its own. So thereby combining multiple musical performances that dance around a beat that is not there provides a sophisticated allure.

Adding random elements in a sprinkled fashion music production could be like BBQ. Much testing is required. After I finish many performances I will always look around for other drum tracks of the exact same speed (tempo) and slip in and review many beats just to see what I might be missing. The question can become which track is the ghost track and which is actually the track. Many of these questions are left for the final mix in which a systematic top to bottom approach is always the way to go. For instance the kick drum is the first level set so that every vibration is set in relation to that level, the snare might be second followed by the bass and a rhythm guitar or keyboard. Next the lead vocal followed by high hats and solos. Special effects are always last.

There is a direct correlation between understanding rhythmic vibrations in music to market tension. It is the ability to absorb the tension in a cool manner. When a random gyration begins to make sense my emotional response is to trade because I feel that I am in sync with the mind of the mistress. By stepping outside of the song in my mind I can see the vibrational landscape in a more objective fashion.

It is a duality of experience to be able to hear the music in my imagination and then to create those exact imagined vibrations in the same split second. The markets are like songs just begging for solos. The unrealized vibration that we can imagine in the price changes are calling us to jump right in and start soloing, however if the ghost track is removed after you have jumped in you will find yourself quickly hoping for the song to end.

Jimi Hendrix was great in his ability to start playing a different rhythm in the middle of a song and to stick to it even if the drums and bass were doing something different. So too, reading all the market tensions but to not be drawn in by the emotions, so as to coolly carry out the plan. The tricks that a composer will use to get the listeners attention are similar to that of the mistress. How far can Robert Plant stretch that note? How far up can the price go?

Jim Sogi comments:

One thing I've noticed about rhythm is that you've got to feel it in your body. If you are busy counting 1,2,3,4 in your head, you've already missed the beat or it starts to get mechanical sounding and stiff.

Sure it can be quantified, sliced and diced, and put into numbers, but it is only the hours and hours of practice, of feeling and living the music that mean a musician can feel the beat. The rhythm is more than a count, there is an unquantifiable element that allows it to swing, to move in and out of the beat, a fraction before, a fraction after, and pulsing and changing in unpredictable cycles. It is what gives live music its life. It is why a canned computer drummer sounds so dry, so dead and uninspiring.

Hours, days, years watching the markets gives the same feel for the rhythm. This is not to say that quantification and study will not give understanding about the structures, the chords, the main time signatures, but the discretionary element to me is an integral part of the process that numbers alone can not totally replace.

Kim Zussman adds:

It isn't too difficult to follow established rhythms and melodious sequences. What is hard is to recognize changes the first notes of which sound familiar and sweet, but devolve rapidly into deadly arrhythmia.

Normal sinus rhythm > Ischemia > Inverted T-wave > Ventricular tachycardia > Ventricular fibrillation > asystole

 Will Kenney offers:

I agree that you don't have to count simple forms, like blues or AABA stuff, that is so internalized that not much thought is required. However, it's often enough that someone puts some complicated music in front of you and then you'd better be counting. the challenge then is making the music really breathe while having to pay close attention to the page. at the end of the day the slice and dice of it all is very important. it's the command of the tools that allows the most freedom and puts you in the place of getting a groove together.

"Technique is the means by which the heart is allowed to fly freely." - Olivier Messiaen


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