Page last updated at 17:46 GMT, Thursday, 5 February 2009

Economic downturn gets a soundtrack

By Greg Morsbach
BBC News

Stockmarket board

A soundtrack to accompany the global economic downturn has become an cult hit on the internet video sharing website, YouTube.

The tune has received hundreds of thousands of hits since it was posted almost a week ago.

Johannes Kreidler generated the unusual melodies by closely following global shares and stock market indexes.

He then fed the data from indices such as the Nikkei through the Microsoft Music programme, SongSmith.

Speaking from his home in Germany, the 29-year-old experimental musician told the BBC World Service that SongSmith had provided the composition tool, but the markets had done the rest.


"I took these graphs and marked a series of points following the edges. I then turned these points into pitches," he explained.

"I arranged the resulting music with different styles of easy listening music for example with a samba or a foxtrot."

"As far as I know I am the first person to turn data from volatile markets into music."

Original interpretation

The end result is a truly originally interpretation of the dismal performance of the Dow Jones, the Nikkei, the Dax and the Nasdaq as well as a series of company shares that have made the headlines such as Lehman Brothers and Bank of America.

By using SongSmith, which has developed a following for its upbeat elevator style music, the Berlin-based artist has created something that could be interpreted as making light of the serious global financial situation.

However, Mr Kreidler said he wanted to use a subtle form of satire and irony to get his message across.

"I just wanted to provoke a reaction from people by portraying the current financial situation in these musical terms," he said.

"I end my YouTube video by thanking those who gave us this soundtrack, such the politicians and the managers of Lehman Brothers."

He said that he had also been the victim of the economic downturn after a German broadcaster cancelled his radio play due to a lack of funds.

The avant-garde sound artist said he was now working on a project to highlight his concerns over attempts by governments to eavesdrop on people's e-mails.

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