On Life Imitating Fiction Imitating, Reifying the Abstract Transactions of Life

Below are three paragraphs that I had squirreled away in the Orphans folder. I like the idea so much I’m currently contacting professors in the music department at UChicago to see if I can do this as an independent study to render fiction real… And to fulfill the ridiculous A-M-D Core requirement.


Consider his most ambitious piece, which he called Progress. What started as a giant wall of sound decayed from cacophony to one oscillating eighth-note. Up two here, down three there only to go up again. The pitch steadily increased, as did volume. Then dropped in single instruments from other sections, and eventually the cacophony returned. It was ordered, though. Or at least order could be argued for, if not always perceived.

All instruments started on middle C, and radiated out from there. Din and randomness gave way to contrapuntal harmonic oscillations, slightly dissonant, as all components moved in unison—sheep herded by the dog of news just breaking. Order decayed into chaos once again as irrational behavior righted itself.

He took the movement of the thirty stocks in the Dow Jones and set their motions to music, the pitch increasing with upward and downward price movement, volume corresponding to volume. Anthropomorphized characters of companies reflected themselves in the instruments playing their parts. Alcoa was a lumbering, doleful French horn. It was genius. Critics fawned over him, and investors contacted him, looking for a hunter of harmonics within chaos. One programmed an algorithm with his help. They called it Orpheus, whose namesake’s playing staved off death itself.


2 responses to “On Life Imitating Fiction Imitating, Reifying the Abstract Transactions of Life”

  1. Fantastic!

    1. Thanks, Aman. Figuring that I have no background in music theory or composition, and—quite frankly—can’t hold a tune in a bucket, this experience promises to be an interesting one.

      My goal would be to use sound to elicit physical reactions. High-pitched dissonance tends to bring on delirious spinning headaches while low-pitched dissonance brings about gastrointestinal distress: the same physical symptoms manifested in market participants on up and down days, respectively.

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