Dec

12

A music piece by Händel - the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba. One could tell that the organ player is enjoying himself.

So many of us finance do terribly well - financially speaking. But then we see it as toil. Some go to the theater or listen to concert in the eve- but perhaps we got it all backward then?

Laurence Glazier writes:

Let’s remember that Handel was enjoying himself too.

Nils Poertner replies:

Wasn't he a pretty good investor as well?

Most (good) musicians experience life in greater fullness than ordinary folks (like us) and express it via their music, eg, the late US singer Johnny Cash…same thing with him. also good lyric with toil and feeling depressed and the sun comforting him etc. some of my more narrow minded friends are like: "I am rich, I can buy happiness." No, you can't. It is an illusion.

Vic adds:

i listen to verdi whenever i need cheer. every one of his arias and chorus pieces is bite sized to enjoy. verdi was a genius in all things like mozart and brahms. a great investor also was about the richest man in Italy when he passed. maintained amazing secrecy about his mistresses also.

Jeff Watson offers:

Whenever I need cheering up, I listen to Steve Fromholz sing his epic Texas Trilogy, and his Man With a Big Hat. (If that one doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, have someone check you for a pulse.)Beautiful music that celebrates real men, freedom, and the open range.

Adam Grimes writes:

Thank you for the share, Nils. This is a fun piece… I've played arrangements of it literally hundreds of times in church services and weddings, etc.

By the way, if any of you play piano, Handel's keyboard music is vastly underrated. Almost all of it is super accessible and a real joy to play. Worth checking out!

I've been more successful in the past few years finding a balance between my artistic, creative life as a musician and the markets. It's a terribly hard balance to maintain and I haven't quite got it right yet.

James Lackey writes:

The Blues Travelers Run Around, the blues brothers and the prison movies Shawshank Redemption, Clint Eastwood Alcatraz always cheer me.

Verdi is fantastic for its simple yet full and rich chord structure and the similar movie sound tracks. Or how about that chord and crescendo on the TDX patented movie surround sound vrrrrmph there is nothing like the sounds of a properly tuned full blown racing engine at idle then a single thump of the throttle and shut it down to silence.

Simon and Garfunkel the sound of silence is wonderful with the remakes of recent rockers.

The sound of silence trading is one thing, like sunshine itself that is either one of the most beautiful things a day or annoying. The sounds of a single fan on in a room across the hall, a car door, mumbled sounds of laughter on the next block. In a panic as your fingers cut plastic keyboard buttons and you search for an honorable retreat. A big rally, the escape with a proper reduction, back to even you laugh as your holding what you’ve got for the duration as we mumble we should have had the balls to hold all to close.

Then like the sun rising over a few covered manicured field of dreams. You whisper, Put some music on brother…Why is it so quiet in here?

Life without music is death.

Laurence Glazier responds:

Nicely put, Lack, with a great rhythm and turn of phrase. Music is a force of nature we cannot tame, but we can be its instrument.

A quote from the painter David Hockney's latest book, Spring Cannot Be Cancelled:

I intend to carry on with my work, which I now see as very important. We have lost touch with nature, rather foolishly as are a part of it, not outside it. This will in time be over and then what? What have we learned? I am almost 83 years old, I will die. The cause of death is birth. The only real things in life are food and love, in that order, just like our little dog Ruby, I really believe this and the source of art is love. I love life.

Larry Williams suggests:

Food and love?? How about air? How about something to be passionate about—like trading or whatever turns you on.

James Lackey :

Larry as you know "trading for a living" opens up self - I we me - to the world in a very simple output PnL and you can not fake it for long. To complete on the worlds stage full time is to immerse yourself. If you give the market 80% effort perhaps you’ll end up with a 20% loss. Give it 98% maybe you’ll get a 2% profit after expenses and paying yourself a working wage. Go all in and it’s literally limitless. All the money fame fortune a many can ever want.

Take back 2% of your time? The mistress of the market is a very jealous person. If she doesn’t kill you your cohorts running at 100% will.

Trading is one of the best things that has ever consumed me and mine. Yet it consumes me.

Laurence Glazier comments:

Better the passion is in the art than the artist.

Nils Poertner writes:

well said. there is nothing wrong with some healthy ego. but the ego that modern man (modern woman) has formed is perhaps way too narcissistic. We are co-creators in fife and that spirit is encapsulated in many religious books- even by Ralph Walter Emerson. one has to feel it - it has nothing to do with IQ.

In The Gospel of Emerson, Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted as saying:

"There is a principle which is the basis of things . . . a simple, quiet, undescribed, indescribable presence, dwelling very peacefully in us . . . we are not to do, but to let do; not to work, but to be worked upon."

James Lackey adds:

The gist of whatever m saying comes from my dad and army guys and y’all:
Give a smart man time he finds problems.
Give a real smart guy time he finds solutions.
Give a genius time they find the right questions.

With leadership all 3!work together and create the undiscovered unlimited human potential. Alone without leadership and a dose of pain you get what my dad called "lost souls". Time is the 21st century issue most have too much time to think of problems. Those with solutions have no voice as they live in fear. The genius sit alone talking to the connections.

The genius around the globe never before without a middle man or government wishing some one would take charge and get it done. What is it? That list is now so long it’s an infinity symbol. No begging. No end.

Alston Mabry suggest:

Speaking of music, the Fresh Air podcast has a 3-part Sondheim
retrospective. It's really interesting to hear somebody at that level
talk about his work.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Nov

8

JS Bach was once asked why he wrote so much music.

His answer:
1. "To the glory of God" (not sure whether he meant it, nevermind)
2. To amuse himself.

Maybe some like this piece here as well:

Bach - Concerto in D minor BWV 596 - Van Doeselaar | Netherlands Bach Society

In the first notes of the Concerto in D minor, performed by Leo van Doeselaar for All of Bach, it is immediately clear that this is not the usual Bach. This piece is an organ version of a concerto for two violins and orchestra from Antonio Vivaldi’s L’Estro Armonico. Vivaldi’s music was popular throughout Europe and Germany was no exception. During his years at the court in Weimar, Bach made a series of arrangements of Italian concerto music for organ and harpsichord, including six concertos by Vivaldi.

Gyve Bones adds:

From 20 arguments for the existence of God, from Prof. Peter Kreeft, Department of Philosophy, Boston College:

17. The Argument from Aesthetic Experience

There is the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.
Therefore there must be a God.

You either see this one or you don't.

Alston Mabry writes:

There is a scene in Professor T (Antwerp version) where T is talking to his cellmate and says very sadly something like, "Is there a God?". And his cellmate says something like, "There is Bach. Bach is God." And T smiles and says "Yes, Bach is God."

Peter Saint-Andre offers:

A quote from Pablo Casals:

For the past eighty years I have started each day in the same manner. It is not a mechanical routine but something essential to my daily life. I go to the piano, and I play two preludes and fugues of Bach. I cannot think of doing otherwise. It is a sort of benediction on the house. But that is not its only meaning for me. It is a rediscovery of the world of which I have the joy of being a part. It fills me with awareness of the wonder of life, with a feeling of the incredible marvel of being a human being. The music is never the same for me, never. Each day it is something new, fantastic and unbelievable. That is Bach, like nature, a miracle!

Nils Poertner responds:

that's great. I always try to listen in the moment - whatever works for ppl - life works a bit by invitation anyway. one can't force stuff. a basic sense of joy and harmony is certainly missing in our era (the media, the drama etc outside).

Jeffrey Hirsch recalls:

An English professor whose class I was in asked the question why people write poetry. Answer: Because they have to. Similar reason why Bach wrote so much music. Because he had to.

Richard Owen wonders:

Does Bach have an Onlyfans? I can't see it in the search.

Laurence Glazier suggests:

There are free versions of Sibelius. May I recommend the pleasures of composing now available to all?

Richard Owen admits:

Thank you Laurence, an answer from a real musician of note I think? I should therefore disclose, because you are a decent and proper individual of good character and standing… my question was touched with satire. Google Onlyfans via google news, and you might learn something about the debasement of our culture.

Nils Poertner makes a connection:

btw…I always wondered whether one could re-train a musician becoming good trader? Why? Coz good musicians (of any style) tend to enjoy the process of learning - and are the complete opposite of end-gainers. perhaps they are not interested in financial markets enough- otherwise it would be an interesting project. any idea?

Duncan Coker writes:

I am not in the class or universe of LG in terms of composing, but I do write country songs as a hobby. One thing I have found useful is, often I have to throw something away that I thought was good, a melody, a lyric and start from scratch. The more easily and quickly I scrap an idea, the easier it is to start over. You can't force it. This is true for trading.

James Lackey expands:

Dunc is not gonna get mad at me because we never argue. However sure we can force it and to add to the comment of "those people". As if a career makes a man!?)@“”

Anyways path dependence omg I sound like the geek I am. Ok in a sport or music the pleasure has to be the process of practicing or doing it every damn day. As parents we teach this as in brush your hair teeth good girl boy kiddo! The pleasure of rewriting written words must be higher than start from scratch or least effort kicks in no?

I do not care if she likes my poems. I love them. I’m not sure if it’s a coin toss but I can’t fathom whether I like the poems I wrote in one blast or over 6 hours weeks days or? Good is good and great is better than 6 years ago and awesome is when she says so.

I wrote an awful poem once. Many bad but awful because you can hear the blood hit the floor. I gave it to a song writer buddy and he said damn that’s awesome. I said write a song. He said no man you never write over another mans blood sweat or tears.

In trading the get the joke one liners or 5 lots are cute and won’t hurt anyone much can’t kill you but will never inspire romance. The all in big line can and will get you the one, the forever girl or death one way or the other every 7 years death to the marriage of business and of the romantic life.

They say you’ll get what you need out of trading the market. I think perhaps that’s what separates us from the other guys. We need we want we just can’t help ourselves, we need everything. We want it all!

Adams Grimes writes:

I do think there are some fairly intense connections between music and successful trading/investing. There are the obvious issues of "sticktuitiveness" and grit… I'm currently working my way through one of the Bach Partitas and spent about 4 hours yesterday on 2 measures of music. (For reference that's probably 4-6 seconds, when performed). That degree of focus on detail is absolutely normal for musicians, but is not normal for most peoples' experience, at least in the modern world.

In markets, we get kicked in the head (if we're lucky) or the balls (or, more likely, both) on a regular basis. Some degree of stubbornness and a willingness to just not give up.

I think there are also some profound tie-ins in terms of pattern recognition. For me, I think this worked both ways… after taking a decade away from music I discovered my "musical brain" and compositional skills were probably better than they were, in some ways, when I was focusing my life around music. (My keyboard technique emphatically DID NOT improve, as that's something that does take a fair amount of maintenance.)

Serious, important, and maybe even interesting epistemological questions lurk here.

It's hard to have a favorite Bach piece… his works are surprisingly even in quality across his output, but let me share one that is at the top of my list. This has always been one of my favorites:

Bach: Trio Sonata in G major BWV 530 - I. Vivace - Koopman
(And, for sounding so simple and transparent, it's a nasty little nightmare to perform!)

Gyve Bones harmonizes:

I first heard this performed in the 1970s by Walter/Wendy Carlos on the “Switched-On Bach” on Moog synthesizer, and it has remained a favorite piece of music since then. There are various settings of the piece for guitar and piano as well. Here is a full symphony rendition… It is a song of gratitude to God for his many blessings.

Bach - Sinfonia from Cantata BWV 29 | Netherlands Bach Society

Peter Saint-Andre responds:

I had a similar experience with one of the Bach Cello Suites last night. There is much effort (both time and concentration) involved in learning these pieces. And he probably just dashed them off!

BTW, many years ago there was a software company that specifically recruited music majors because they were highly trainable for programming. And music majors also scored quite high on the even older IBM Programmer's Aptitude Test.

Adam Grimes comments:

And he probably just dashed them off!

This, for me, is one of the biggest and probably eternally unanswerable questions in music history. I suspect our performance standards today are probably far higher than they were historically. It's possible we have an army of at least highly technically competent instrumentalists who've devoted more time to, say, the Chopin scherzi than he ever did himself. We know that Beethoven's playing of his own pieces was, according to contemporary accounts, thrilling but filled with mistakes. When Czerny (a student of Beethoven) proposed playing Beethoven's pieces from memory, Beethoven replied that it was impossible to get all the details without looking at the score… and then admitted he was incorrect on that assumption.

Reading between the lines of what CPE Bach wrote (the Essay on the True Art… is a must-read) I suspect contemporary performance practice was much more improvisatory and perhaps less detail-oriented than we'd expect. We know many of these Bach cantatas were written, rehearsed, and performed in a week. These performers were not super human… the only thing that makes sense to me is that our performance standards and expectations (which approach technical perfection, due to the advent and growth of recording) might be much higher than in past ages.

But perhaps I'm wrong on that.

Interesting on the programming front. I would think those are two quite different modes of thinking (and knowing the expertise is domain-specific in many cases), but I'm a far better programmer than I should be given my level of actual training in the discipline. Maybe there's something to that.

Peter Saint-Andre writes:

In his book "Baroque Music Today", Nikolaus Harnoncourt notes that before music was recorded, people most likely heard any given piece of music only once and didn't want to keep listening to the same music over and over as we do but instead continually sought out whatever was new. Perhaps there was a sense of discovery as composers explored the potentials of the tonal system; once those potentials were exhausted and composers started to produce extremely chromatic or even atonal music in the 20th century, listeners were turned off by the new and sought refuge in the old (thus Western art music ceased to be a living tradition for most listeners). Thankfully composers like Adam Grimes and Laurence Glazier are bucking that trend!

Laurence Glazier writes:

One would expect coding and music skills to be correlated. A symphony is partly an encoded instruction set, whether performed by a computer or an orchestra. The conductor is the "crystal", the timer that pumps the flow. But oh, so much more, than that.

It would be very hard to combine the music and trading fields. To be attentive to the Muse and the S&P at the same time? Surely both are all-consuming. But trading, with its psychological dimension, of self-awareness and development, is a fine path. Alexander Borodin managed to combine composing with a distinguished career in science, as did Charles Ives in insurance.

Sep

2

Music and Math: The Genius of Beethoven

Laurence Glazier comments:

Very nice, I would add that Bach was the engineer who enabled Beethoven and everyone else to write in lots of different keys. 1.5^12 and 2^7, in music 12 fifths and 7 octaves, are almost but not quite the same. Bach fixed this with a tuning system which averages out the difference.

Peter Saint-Andre adds:

Indeed, there were a lot of tuning systems developed around then: Neidhardt (seemingly Bach's preferred system), Werckmeister (he developed several), etc. Just last night I read all about them in The Esoteric Keyboard Temperaments of J. S. Bach. These folks were the quants of their day!

Peter Grieve comments:

Yes, the problem with getting good fifths and good octaves in the same scale is find a power of 3 that is equal to a power of 2. This is because a fifth is a ratio of 3/2, and an octave is a ratio of two.

Of course, there is no power of 3 that is exactly equal to a power of 2. There is a fairly good match at 3^5=243, and 2^8=256. The power of 5 on the 3 means that this corresponds to a pentatonic scale. And 3^12=531,441 while 2^19=524,288, (proportionately a better match) which as Laurence says is the basis of a diatonic scale.

Because the matches aren't exact, something's gotta give, and this is what Bach's temperment ideas addressed (as Laurence said).

There are other near matches at larger powers, but a scale with dozens or hundreds of notes has limited appeal.

Laurence Glazier writes:

Excellent attachment on the tunings, esoteric is the right word. The fact that this is being rediscovered after hundreds of years, is of special interest to me.

Adam Grimes adds:

I have built and played harpsichords for many years. When you play harpsichords, you also tune them. A lesser-known fact is how quickly this instrument goes out of tune… you can have it in tune for a concert and then it will need a touch up at intermission.

So, harpsichord players quickly become very familiar with these tunings. Some are much more useful than others, but it also explains what composers meant when they talked about affects or emotions associated with certain keys. This was a very real thing, in some of the older tuning systems, but has been completely lost (for better or worse) with modern equal temperament.

Another interesting aside is that I find these historical tunings don't work that well on the modern piano. Completely aside from the temperament issues, there's also the issue of inharmonicity (the deviation of a physical string from the theoretical ideal). All strings have this, but the piano has A LOT because of the thickness of the strings. (Certain types of harpischords (Italian) have scalings that are much closer to the theoretical ideals.) A piano is tuned ever-sharper in higher octaves so that it is in tune with its own overtones rather than the actual pitches. It's subtle, but it's real and important… and it also obliterates the precision of these historical tunings. (Another interesting aside is that once your ear learns to hear in these historical tunings, moving back to ET is a kick in the gut. You'll sit down at a piano, play a chord, and think "wow. everything really IS out of tune." which is the compromise of ET. (For the record, ET is a beautiful and useful thing, as well.)

What I don't see much value in are the microtonal modern experiments, but I understand what drives that line of thought.

For any musicians, if you haven't had the experience of singing pure-tempered intervals against a drone I'd highly encourage it. You can spend hours or even weeks exploring the beauty and power of these resonances… and you'll know musical materials as an EXPERIENCE of resonance rather than a sound or a theoretical construct.

One might imagine that it was these experiences of resonance that encouraged early humans to sing, to seek sound, and maybe even to seek language… maybe in those caves where they left us paintings of mystery and power… somewhere a very long time ago.

But, seriously, go get a bass drone sound and sing some pure octaves, fifths, and thirds against it. You'll never hear the same way again.

A reader adds:

Each open tuning has a special resonance that is different than the same notes played in concert. Similarly chord inversions carry different overtones from base fingering.

Jeff Watson adds:

I love Fripp’s New Standard Tuning, CGDAEG. The mnemonic for recalling it is “California guitarists drop acid every gig.”

Adam Grimes responds:

yeah but slightly different. Fretted instruments are ET. You could potentially bend some notes, but you're still working in an ET world. (Scordatura certainly changes the timbre of instrument, and resonance of open strings, etc., but is a substantially different thing from temperaments.)

Laurence Glazier writes:

Thanks Adam, fascinating thoughts.

When transcribing from inspiration, I am sometimes unable to use the note I hear in my mind, which lies somewhere between a pair of adjacent semitones. As my software uses ET tuning, I have on occasion resorted to using MIDI control instructions to nudge the pitch into place, but in the light of your post, I now see that the issue may be with the tuning system. On one of the historical keyboard instruments, the note I require might simply be there.

I have enjoyed writing music in the past for clavichord, because of the pressure sensitivity, but am now writing mainly for orchestra.

As you say, experience trumps academic construct. I personally consider music to be an elemental force of nature, and species evolve to sense it along with every other aspect of reality. It's also interesting that lunar and planetary orbits often lock into similar ratios. The Pythagorean Comma has a counterpart in the slight divergence between the lunar and solar calendars. The term live music, in my opinion, is literally true.

Adam Grimes responds:

Clavichord is a beautiful and intensely problematic (at least in my experience!) instrument.

I own one. The intimacy of it is incredible… it puts the player's finger in almost direct, expressive contact with the vibrating string… but that brings up so many issues of control and it's such a different technique than any other keyboard instrument. To say nothing of the whisper-soft sound level (that defies amplification, which might seem to be the obvious answer.)

And you're right… all those "in between" notes exist as a possibility on that instrument. Not hard to imagine someone playing in a remote key and instinctively bending the out of tune notes into an acceptable range.

Zubin comments:

Guitar players always bend notes giving infinite micro tones. Squeezing the string to approach the note can give great feeling. Of course singers all do it too.

Vic is reminded of a Beethoven story:

During a performance of one of his piano concertos Beethoven was the soloist, and he got so carried away with conducting that at one point he forgot to play the piano. He flung his arms wide and knocked the candlesticks off each side of the piano. The audience burst out laughing, and Beethoven got so mad that he ordered the orchestra to start over again.

Two choirboys were enlisted to hold the candlesticks out of harm's way. One of them got increasingly intrigued by the piano score and came in closer and closer just as a loud passage broke forth. Out went Beethoven's arm, knocking the choirboy in the mouth so that he dropped his candlestick. The other choirboy, having followed Beethoven's motions more cautiously, ducked, to the complete delight of the audience.

Beethoven fell into such a rage that on the first chord of his solo he pounded the piano so forcefully that he broke half a dozen strings. Die-hard music lovers in the audience tried to restore order, but failed. After that debacle Beethoven became increasingly reluctant to give concerts.

From Wisconsin Public Radio: The Catastrophic Conductor

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