The Irony of China’s Most Recent Bitcoin Ban
by Peter C. Earle

In light of both its history and the decentralized nature of crypto, it’s difficult to see this latest ban as anything but terrifically bullish for the development of the sector as a whole. It forces miners located in China taking advantage of cheap development and energy costs to move elsewhere, likely resulting in greater geographic diversification. (The concentration of hashing power in China-based mining facilities was seen as an existential vulnerability to Bitcoin by some observers; yet for several months an exodus of mining operations has been underway.) The crackdown will likely induce more research into energy-efficient means of mining. And there will undoubtedly be increased innovation directed at the concealment of ‘on and off ramps.’

Steve Ellison adds:

The power shortage in China is the least expected and most interesting news of the week, apparently driven by a push to reduce carbon emissions.

China’s Manufacturing Weakens, as Power Cuts Threaten More Damage
Contraction ends 18-month expansion that powered the country’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic

BEIJING—China’s manufacturing activity contracted in September, ending an 18-month expansion that powered the country’s recovery from the pandemic, with power curbs in hubs threatening further disruption.

China’s manufacturing purchasing managers index fell to 49.6 in September, the National Bureau of Statistics in Beijing said Thursday. That marks the gauge’s first drop below the 50 mark that separates an expansion of activity from contraction since February 2020, when the metropolis of Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province were shut down to contain the fast-spreading virus.



nobody asked me but the yankees are a much worse coached team than any of the other contenders and are likely to lose in the wild card very quickly. they constantly take out pitchers and refuse to play small ball.

nobody asked me but the relation between susan and john on the yankees game would be indecorous if john weren't so old and susan weren't so nice. he refers to her as my dear and often says that he knows nothing and she knows everything. neither of them seems to have insights into the game but susan knows many anecdotes and john is often bewildered by the uncertainty of the game.

i enjoy listening to them while i'm watching prices but every ad on their radio program seems to be a promotion of one kind. the worst besides the kars for kids which seems to be a promotion all around is the sniff and shimmei for the ny lottery as it promises two wins daily.

the ads for cancer are particularly reprehensible as they indicate that someone has hope because a comprehensive cancer center will do research on their particular cancer.

Vic's twitter feed



S&P 500 test of all time highs coming up? Fed, Tesla, Inflation. Part 1, 2021/09/24

Yelena Sennett & Andy Aiken: Tesla breaks out. Nasdaq tests and holds 15K. Evergrande and China update.

Part 2

Full blown attack on crypto last week. But is it too late? Part 2, 2021/09/24

Yelena Sennett & Andy Aiken: Are the powers to be threatened by DeFi and Crypto? But price action is very resilient, given the amount of negative news. Is Evergrande paper behind Tether?

Part 3

Bitcoin and crypto valuation metrics, security. Bitcoin, Ethereum. Part 3, 2021/09/24

Yelena Sennett & Andy Aiken: How to value the crypto space, given that traditional metrics don't work in a new decentralized structure. Bitcoin price vs its security vs the number of users

Part 4

Dogecoin popularity, DOGE AMC adoption coming? Part 4, 2021/09/24

Yelena Sennett & Andy Aiken: Is it a broken coin? A publicity stunt for AMC? Dogecoin popularity continues, despite the lack of use or any new development.



Symphony No 2 in D The Hello

Jeff Watson comments:

Fellow spec lister Laurence Glazier knocked this one out of the park. This piece can only be described as "delightful." The man certainly has musical chops.

Andrew Moe adds:

Thanks Jeff and of course, Laurence. Loved watching the musical arrangements for the entire orchestra simultaneously. It's like watching the ticks in multiple markets go together. A little ditty from gold, then the bonds … suddenly the euro and yen rise - all to the beat set down by Sanchez. Beautiful!

Laurence Glazier writes:

Thanks both for kind comments.

Yes, it is market-like. Taking in data - melodies and fragments which come to mind - and putting them together, constructing positions, treading a narrow path between excesses of caution and exuberance.



Can Stock Market Forecasters Forecast?
By Alfred Cowles 3rd
A paper read before a joint meeting of the Econometric Society and the American Statistical Association, Cincinnati, Ohio, December 31, 1932

This paper presents results of analyses of the forecasting efforts of 45 professional agencies which have attempted, either to select specific common stocks which should prove superior in investment merit to the general run of equities, or to predict the future movements of the stock market itself. The paper falls into two main parts. The first deals with the attempts of two groups, 20 fire insurance companies and 16 financial services, to foretell which specific securities would prove most profitable. The second part deals with the efforts of 25 financial publications to foretell the future course of the stock market. Various statistical tests of these results are given.



Ken Burns Says Current Times ‘Equal’ to Civil War, Depression and World War II: ‘It’s Really Serious’

Historian and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns said that the present day is one of the worst times in American history.

Burns made the remark while on the “SmartLess” podcast, hosted by Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Sean Hayes, comparing current events with the Civil War, the Depression, and World War II.

“It’s really serious. There are three great crises before this: the Civil War, the Depression, and World War II. This is equal to it,” he said on Monday’s episode when asked about the direction the United States was headed.

Peter Saint-Andre offers:

Perhaps he's been reading The Fourth Turning by Strauss & Howe. Highly recommended.

It does strike me that the recent run of presidents rivals the likes of Fillmore, Pierce, and Buchanan. Stefan can provide a more informed perspective for us.

Leo Jia writes:

The Fourth Turning sounds very interesting, thanks for sharing. I had similar senses in recent years, hope I had read it earlier.

According to Wikipedia [Strauss–Howe generational theory], our current turning is crisis starting in 2008 and ending in 2020 (+a couple years perhaps). The last crisis was between 1929 and 1947 (depression and ww2 together for 17 years). The crisis before that was between 1860 and 1865 (civil war for 5 years).

As one turning generally lasts 20-22 years, the current one is coming to the final years.

The next turning following a crisis is termed high. It's like 1946 - 1964, and 1865 - 1886, for which we can be hopeful.

I am not sure if the authors discussed about the not fully synchronous nature of the turnings through the world. For instance, America didn't suffer ww2 so much as Europeans or some Asians. Europe didn't have the depression, though it had ww1 earlier. Also, even in the same crisis turning for instance, different groups or countries can take differently: winners get more benefits than losers for instance.

So the podcaster talks about a worst crisis we are in, well that may be true, but the good news is that not everyone has to suffer.

Vic adds:

presumably that fellow traveler who has never believed in american excetionalim is referring to the negative feelings about president biden which i happen to agree is bearish as the masters 1000 and the big tech and the bilious billionaires will have less chance of capturing the rake from being one with the lokis.

Henri Huws suggests:

If you’re enjoying The Fourth Turning have a look at Decline of the West by Oswald Spengler. He was a history teacher by trade that wrote extensively on the coming decline of the west. Spengler’s cyclical theory on history is very interesting. He famously predicted the fall of the third reich, 9 years before the end of the war. All of his work is fantastic, but has a much longer time horizon than the 4th turning. In vol1 he focuses on how culture in civilisations throughout history changed as their civilisations grew and declined. In vol 2 He puts more emphasis on politics and economics. Its a dense read, but well worth it.

Duncan Coker recommends:

For geopolitics I recommend Peter Zeihan. His latest is due out next year, and the title is provocative: The End of the World is Just the Beginning. It could be taken as negative or positive depending on your time frame. As much as I like Ken, his comparisons to other points in history seem way off the mark.

Stefan Jovanovich

Mr. Burns left out the wow finish with Jesus and George Washington - always Lincoln's favorite bit of stagecraft.

Reason, cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason, must furnish all the materials for our future support and defence.–Let those materials be moulded into general intelligence, sound morality, and in particular, a reverence for the constitution and laws: and, that we improved to the last; that we remained free to the last; that we revered his name to the last; that, during his long sleep, we permitted no hostile foot to pass over or desecrate his resting place; shall be that which to learn the last trump shall awaken our WASHINGTON. Upon these let the proud fabric of freedom rest, as the rock of its basis; and as truly as has been said of the only greater institution, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."



an important book like this deserves a proper reference

The Analysis of Economic Time Series, by Harold Thayer Davis (1941) [pdf]



Levels of the bias

September 26, 2021 | Leave a Comment

in john mcphee's book about the ashe-graebner match (Levels of the Game), he told me 100 people came up to him on the princeton train and berated him for it being biased against graebner and 100 came up to berate him for bias against ashe.

i am berated by the bears for being an ignoramous and having a bullish bias and others compliment me for being so smart. i am not so smart. and like all old people i have to change to adjust to modern times.

Vic's twitter feed



some shocking moves in bonds stocks gold last week. the frog jumped out of the water. will the flexions allow a debacle while infrastructure in play?

the study of circuit diagrams (Boolean algebra, logic gates) with the output depending on various consecutive combos of and, or, not, and +, gives good insights and possible uses for the color diagrams. for example let "stocks up" be p and "bonds down" be not q. we've had two p not q in a row.

it happened 44 times since 2019 - nothing special for either as an output.

by adding a + r, one can put a third variable in it. these extensions were strangely inspired by insights about checkers. the moves in checkers one forward or one backward with red and black have always seemed to me indicative of logic circuits with the output corresponding.

Vic's twitter feed



laurel writes that it's execrable to go on a date to a dance concert with someone who can't dance. i fear she is referring invidiously to me. all i can say is that my father was the best dancer in the police force and also the star of folk dancing from russia and latin american countries which were very hard to learn and perform which my dad performed every day with 50 women and 20 men daily in the baths at the beach.

also my daughter galt would have been a star of american dance machine if the director had lived.

all my daughters are great dancers and so is my wife. somehow i can't dance even though i have taken lessons from four different teachers. my favorite teacher was yuval hod.

Best Lindy Hop Dance Routine - Yuval Hod & Nathalie Gomes!

yuval had the same problem in winning 4 world championships that i did. all the judges at the international competitions were biased against Israel. the squash officials used to love it to make me lose and called around when i was losing.

fortunately they didn't see me losing that much but i would have won another n.a. championship if stew breauns had called one down on me that i was up. he had never called one down on me before. it was 14 all when he called it against me in the semis. i can still see him, a diabolical smile in letting sam howe win who had never beat me before.

funny how memories from 60 years ago are so resonant. i remember every match i lost. the funny thing was that even though i was practically undefeated for the 10 years of my prime. i should have been much better if i hadn't been taught that accursed slice backhand.

i wish i was 1/10 as good at markets as i was in racket sports. the slice backhand was particularly reprehensible in racquetball. marty hogan hit backhand 150 miles an hour. i was lucky to reach 60 mph. the funny thing is that i am the only player with a plus record against marty.

my father could do anything perfectly. he was a formist and did everything with perfect form. i do everything with terrible form. my wife is a formist also.

i violated larry wiliams rule about less than 1/2 age + 7 with my formist wife when she was 19 and I was 32. i'll never forget when i entered a rac tourney and 10 guys ran up to me and said "you have to see this girl's backhand perfect form and she's a looker also."

i taught her that backhand and she beat john hummer with it with my father watching. john was twice her height.

Vic's twitter feed



2022 House of Representatives control


USA - House of Representatives Election 2022



The Afghanistization of America

Victor Davis Hanson:

The United States should be at its pinnacle of strength. It still produces more goods and services than any other nation—China included, which has a population over four times as large. Its fuel and food industries are globally preeminent, as are its graduate science, computer, engineering, medical, and technology university programs. Its constitution is the oldest of current free nations. And the U.S. military is by far the best funded in the world. And yet something has gone terribly wrong within America, from the southern border to Afghanistan.



some comments on the big decline.

(1) it was a decline red in tooth and claw with bonds, stocks, and gold down.

(2) it was harbingered by the decline of 47 bucks in gold on thursday. a once in a decade decline. the main reason there was a status incongruence.

(3) everything bad for the US. the 70 billion of equipment left behind. and all the US could come up with was that the afghans and their allies aren't smart enuf to reverse engineer it.

(4) the foreigners have to decide on options expiration whether they should continue their US buying. with the US in decline from the withdrawal and everything related, why should they park in US.

(5) the status incongruence of the admission we killed 19 civilians in the drone strife. but this was clearly an attempt to come up with good talking points about our over the horizon capability. this was the only thing they coudn't blame on pele another incongruence.

(6) the incongruence of Milley worrying about sanity of Trump but not concerned about the montreal semantic test for other high officials. incongruence of no punishment for generals who worked for raytheon and g.d. but impeachment if pele did it.

(7) as the professor says, the market moves to every higher numbers with cataracts along the way.

Vic's twitter feed

Jeff Watson writes:

With many talking doom and gloom regarding the future, it is a noteworthy accomplishment for the S&P to only be 2.5% off it's ATH.

Mark Graham asks:

so what's next come monday?

Jeff Watson responds:

Who knows what the market is going to do on Monday. Who cares what I think? Who cares what anyone thinks should happen in the future? Why should one trust the "experts?" People might have an idea of what might happen, but that's about all it is. I can't count the times I've been perfectly convinced something would happen and it didn't. What happens tomorrow happens, and you will either be right or wrong. That's the case for every one of us. It doesn't matter what Chair, Bill, Sogi San, Larry, myself, or any other member of this list thinks the market is going to do. It only matters what you think and how you navigate the often treacherous currents, eddies and shoals of the markets. Opinions given for free, market tips, supposed insider info, etc are worth less than what you pay for them. LeFevre talked all about tips, and allowing others to do one's thinking for them, and his advice should be heeded.

Larry Williams joins in:

There are people I listen to intently; they have established they are worth listening to…some are on this list. An explanation of why a trader expects such and such to happen is not a “tip". Big difference.

Jeff Watson clarifies:

Since I obviously wiffed the ball in my previous reply, to clarify and make my point clear, the message was it's best to keep one's own counsel.

Larry Williams concurs:

Yup, listen to all but pull the trigger at the target you see.

Nils Poertner adds:

I think what is tricky for most people to understand that in many other parts of business life (in particular as an employee), one can do very well as long one is social enough, aggressive, disciplined enough, progressive etc… or went to the right school…

whereas maneuvering mkts (long-term - over decades) by oneself requires a different mindset altogether - and trading even more so than pure investing



Snitch Nation

September 19, 2021 | Leave a Comment

bill maher does Snitch Nation. of course we're all wondering what we can get from others and what the others are going to desire to take from us. a natural consequence of the road to socialism.

Vic's twitter feed



Time to buy S&P 500? Levels to watch. Tesla breakout? 09/18/2021



The two most recently completed calendar quarters were by far the most profitable quarters in the history of the S&P 500. 12-month earnings through Aug. 31 were $158.74, compared to a year-ago estimate of $129.15. Who says estimates are always too rosy? Source: Standard & Poors

Click to see S&P earnings table



‘Science,’ They Said

Victor Davis Hanson:

The scientific method used to govern much of popular American thinking.

In empirical fashion scientists advised us to examine evidence and data, and then by induction come to rational hypotheses. The enemies of “science” were politics, superstition, bias, and deduction.

Yet we are now returning to our version of medieval alchemy and astrology in rejecting a millennium of the scientific method.



As I have said a number of times, China demographically is where the US was in 2008, as the larger cohort born before the one-child policy ages out of its peak productivity and spending years.

Evergrande’s Woes Fuel Selloff in Chinese Property Shares

Conversely, the US now has a demographic tailwind as the large millennial generation forms households and advances in careers. The Fed should end QE now because the demographic drag that made the Obama-era economic recovery so painfully slow has reversed. QE is now inflationary.



Yankee analytics

September 15, 2021 | Leave a Comment

forget the regularities and statistics. the yankees lost 7 in a row while s&p moves to 14 day low but won 13 in a row while the market broke 4500. yesterday they finally won one while following insane analytics that are set before the game and don't take account of recency.

incredibly an analytics that says that after 100 pitches the other side does better trumps an ERA on current pitches of 2 or less et al. does someone know about ever changing cycles there or are the analytics designed for losses the way yankees use them?

the yankee games are good predictor of the sp? why is this not chance? but the ads on the radio game are so biased and woke that they ruin ones enjoyment of the predictions. worst of all the the attempts at humor of the insurance ads and the hope for cancer and the lottery ads.

the kars for kids and the lawyer ads that have received a 6 million settlement are reprehensible also

Vic's twitter feed



i found this interview extraordinarily educational and revealing. self-loathing virtue signaling military defense generals at general dynamics and raytheon.

In this Direct interview, John Anderson, former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, is joined by Victor Davis Hanson. Dr. Hanson addresses Biden’s role in the Afghanistan crisis, increased tensions between China and the US, and the future of the US-Australia relationship.



Current odds for 2022

September 14, 2021 | 2 Comments

apparently 4 to 1 that house will be changed in 2022 and 55 to 45 that senate will be changed

Current PredictIt odds on the House and Senate 2022



Friday predicts next week?

September 13, 2021 | 1 Comment

friday was a most unusual day: down 50 big from the open and set an x-day low but not a 29-day low. all things considered should be a great bull week next week, regardless of the reduction of progressivism and the rise of pele in the odds.

Vic's twitter feed

Zubin al Genubi follows up:

Friday-Monday regularity kicked in nicely. Little bit of sogi coffee action this week?



S&P pullback, Apple lawsuit & Crypto selloff explained

Yelena Sennett and Andy Aiken: S&P 500 2% pullback, what next? Crypto's sharp reversal this week, cause and levels, weekly close is important. Inflation and hawkish Fed is likely.



The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

More H. L. Mencken quotes



Bookies and the vig

September 11, 2021 | Leave a Comment

remember that sports books are among the most profitable enterprises in the firmament and they let you choose a million interactions and/or splits, what used to be called the automatic interaction detector in my day. they dissect the data much more carefully than any technical analysts and they report statistics. they find that with all the expertise and all the advice that they can give, 1 in a million sports bettors can beat the 52% necessary to win.

the vig in trading is much more than the 5 1/2 % that the sports books take out.

Vic's twitter feed



From Lee Child in Without Fail:

The thing about baseball is that the regular season is one hundred sixty-two games long. Way, way longer than any other sport. Any other sport has about half as many games as baseball. Basketball, hockey, football, soccer, anything. Any other sport, the players can start out thinking they can win every single game all season long. It’s just about a realistic motivational goal. It’s even been achieved, here and there, now and then. But it’s impossible in baseball. The very best teams, the greatest champions, they all lose around a third of their games. They lose fifty or sixty times a year, at least. Imagine what that feels like, from a psychological perspective. You’re a superb athlete, you’re fanatically competitive, but you know for sure you’re going to lose repeatedly. You have to make mental adjustments, or you couldn’t cope with it.

Stefan Jovanovich adds:

It's even worse. You go up to the plate knowing you are going to swing and miss or, at best, hit a foul many more times than you are going to hit a ball square into fair territory. And, then, on the ones you hit right, half will be outs.

Total # of games played in MLB and Negro League history: 232,680
Total # of perfect games, i.e., 27 outs, no hits, no walks, by losing team, no errors by winning team: 22
Ratio: Perfect to Played: 1/9.455045556128589e-5
[That is, 0.00946% of games played were "perfect". -Ed.]



possibility of pittsburgh phil bet with trump leading presidential odds by 30 to 20 with 30 milllion bet and dems still 53-46 to win the election. but bets on a republican to win are 55 to 45 in favor of republicans.

Current odds for the 2024 Presidential race

Vic's twitter feed



In the years before 1894, when the Daily Racing Form first started publishing, there was only one way to handicap horse races with past performance charts - you had to make the charts yourself. The number of people who were compiling data on horse races and making their own charts prior to the 1890s was most likely very small, but nobody was as successful at using racing data to inform his bets than a young man from outside of Pittsburgh named George E. Smith.

The Legend of Pittsburg Phil



Blow off top or a small pullback? NFTs craze fuels Ethereum? 2021/09/03

Yelena Sennett and Andy Aiken: S&P 500 statistics on all time highs bring up the ghosts of 1987 & 1929. Crypto Punk is worth more then Picasso as NFTs become the new status symbols.



his bio of the skateboard champion and entrepreneur in Americana is classic tom wolfe and makes life much better after a read:

The Birdman Drops In

“I don’t even think of Tony as an adult,” said Phil Jennings, a 12-year-old I met at the HuckJam. “He doesn’t act like the big man. He’s one of us.”



reading Hampton Sides meticulous and highly recommended military books Ghost Soldiers and On Desperate Ground, one is struck by systemic attention to detail with which the us military destroys all of their own weapons in their evacuations.

what could explain their leaving behind 70 billions of US weapons in their evacuation of Afghanistan? one posits a quid pro quo. loki must be behind this.



Is Our Military Woke, Broke or Both?

The Pentagon needs to stop virtue signaling about diversity days, culturally sensitive food for Afghan refugees, and rooting out supposed white conspiracists.

Instead, can it just explain why the Bagram Air Base was abandoned by night? Why suddenly are the terrorist Taliban our supposed “partners” in organizing our surrender and escape?



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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