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Chess to music translator

("Greatest games ever!!! Now available on CD!!!")
  [vote for,

There's some evidence that chess grandmasters aren't significantly more analytical than the rest of us but rather, they have a great ability to remember the structure and 'plot' of tens of thousands of games and recognise when situations similar to those games occur in tthe game they're playing.

This then is speculation that a method of converting chess notation to music would produce music that was recognisable as a particular game and that when playing a game it might be possible to hear the game in your head and possibly hear a tune similar to a tune from another game.

I'm not exactly sure how to represent everything about the movement of the pieces in music. A simple solution would be to pick a section of a piano keyboard and assign notes to pieces (naturals (white) to white pieces, sharps/ flats (black) to black pieces?) - information about the destination square and whether check or checkmate was achieved might need more notes or a chord.
hippo, Jun 04 2004

Chess notation http://www.jaderive...m/chess/notate.html
Apparently, there are two basic forms (algebraic and descriptive), each with variants. [angel, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Connections between Music and Chess http://www.greschak.com/muschess.htm
especially the "Cage, John 1943. Chess Pieces" entry [benjamin, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Chess to Music http://www.hazelmot...sicchessexample.xls
[jtg]'s illustration of an annotation. [jonthegeologist, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Chess, The Musical http://www.actor.force9.co.uk/chess.htm
your bishop's in a rather compromising position with a horse. [neilp, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

resynovate http://www.resynova...nth/mp3/resynth.mp3
[supermanhuge, Aug 23 2006]


       No 1 son would love this.
po, Jun 04 2004

       This is ace but I think that remaining hidebound to conventional instrumentation is a mistake; this would work extremely well as an electronic music experiment.   

       A game of chess could be played as normal on a special input device chessboard, which feeds the game data into a PC. The PC is running extensively customisable music synthesising software, which interprets the game data into music. Did I say this is ace? I meant to say "This is double mega ace with bells on." Ubercroissant. Wow.   

       I can't wait to buy DJ Hippo's "Kasparov vs Deep Blue (Hardfloor Remix)"
calum, Jun 04 2004

       Do any notations include time data? It would be good to produce a musical score with the same timing (perhaps played back a little faster than the original, though).
benjamin, Jun 04 2004

       It would sound like random junk. It will be centuries before humans are used to listening to such stuff and have the ability to remember and understand it.
phundug, Jun 04 2004

       I dunno. Given that there's a guy who can identify a vinyl record by looking at the grooves, I don't think this is as unlikely as it may seem.
angel, Jun 04 2004

       If you had each piece represented by a different instrument, then we're on the way to achieving this.   

       As you look at the chess board, there are 8 rows in front of you. If each row represented a line on the stave, then each piece would represent a note between the stave lines (F,A,C, E, G, B,D, F ...) The picture probably best illustrates this. Linky.   

       Each column would have to be represented by a style of note : Staccato, Pianissimo, Forte...   

       So a Rook in square a1 (it's starting position), would be a flute (Staccato, F). A few moves later it may be a Forte B.   

       Individual positions could be captured as a single (dischordant) note from all chessman ... moves would be represented as a two note burst.
jonthegeologist, Jun 04 2004

       This is a great idea. Music is inherently mathematical (mathematicians often make good musicians - or is it the other way round?!) so I could see you could get some amazing things from it.
hazel, Jun 04 2004

       To musically resemble the complexity of a chessmaster's deliberations would result in cacophony. Assigning notes to files and ranks, and insturments to pieces is a nice idea, but won't reveal any of the inner workings of the game, and the timing will be all fu*cked up.
daseva, Jun 04 2004

       I think it's both ways, Hazel.
This won't necessarily result in cacophony. You'd have to use REALLY complex algorithms, which would take a long time to develop. I agree with calum that it's an experiment, and getting it down would demand years of serious dedication.
yabba do yabba dabba, Jun 04 2004

       As long as the notes are of the same key the sound should be fine possibly even familiar. Moves could be mixed as vectors and timing would represent the distance travelled. So a long rook move across the board would be a long trombone style note heading up or down to indicate vertical travel, stereo for left and right and starting from a specific note to indicate position. The simple moves would be more obvious if each not had a different instrument or sound. The options are immense but a stardard would have to be decided fairly early on. Short strategic pawn moves would be simple piano whereas the queen might have a Cello with Cymbals when they take a piece. Just not sure how baked this is... Lets face is orchestra can represent War very well already.
PainOCommonSense, Jun 04 2004

       If we use a version of the algebraic notation, whereby the source and destination squares are given in the form "b3" (indicating the third square on the second row), we see that a move might be shown as "b5:d5". These digraphs are, coincidentally, legitimate names for musical notes, the letter indicating the note itself and the number the octave in which it falls. The two players might be assigned two different instruments, so the game would be represented as a duet, with the instruments playing alternate pairs of notes. Does that help?
angel, Jun 04 2004

       The score, in your method, will be about 40 notes played, not a real song if you ask me. b3 signifies the second file and the third rank, following with proper chess terminology.
daseva, Jun 04 2004

       If you set up your chessboard next to a theremin then every game would generate a unique tune (not sure whether to dignify it with the word tune really).
DrBob, Jun 04 2004

       i like this. a musical movement could represent the positions of the opponents pieces with counter melodies for your pieces' positions. by knowing the variations for the next ideal move you could work backward, moving your piece to 'play' the next movement. would require a painstaking knowledge of music but certainly plausible.   

       please forward this idea to brian eno. (+)
xclamp, Jun 04 2004

       Done with a couple of banjo (one each player), this might sound like the classic duelling banjos tune.   

       (wonders - Is Banjo it's own plural?)
WYBloke, Jun 04 2004

       As my chess pieces dwindle in number, the music will begin to resemble Haydn's "Farewell" symphony. Ending with just one violin to represent the sole King. *sob!*
phundug, Jun 04 2004

       I remember reading about someone who did this with stock market data. They arranged the parameters so that the synthesised music sounded up-beat and glorious when the market was doing well, and slow and depressing when it was doing poorly.
krelnik, Jun 04 2004

       There's a sci fi writer in who's world the daily news feeds have been reduced to strings and woodwinds, occasional brass for bad events.
normzone, Jun 04 2004

       Glass Bead game, by Herman Hesse. The idea is that all things can be conjoined by the motifs of music and art, or some shit like that. The idea is steadfast, but abstract.
daseva, Jun 04 2004

       If you make the music fairly dense and set up simulations on a computer, you can watch hundreds of games in fast forward. The visuals would be useful to remember what parts of the score to watch out for.   

       I once tried to create a program that converted huge amounts of weather data into sound to look for errors in the data. The result was something akin to picking up a phone while someone is using a modem, and was determined to be too annoying to be a solution.
Worldgineer, Jun 04 2004

       Absolutely beautiful.
RayfordSteele, Jun 05 2004

       The method of encoding would be the key here. I agree that any simple chess-to-music algorithm (algorhythm?) would probably sound pretty awful, but if you imposed rules e.g. repititive rhythm, musical scale and maybe chord structure, the details of the beat, chords and tune could be dictated by the moves to interesting and probably enjoyable effect. www.azzer.com has a neat little text-to-music program that would provide a good start if any coders are up to the task. For the more advanced among you - how about a program that plays chess with moves generated by a music-to-chess algorithm?
wagster, Jun 05 2004

A mostly-standard chess playing algorithm may be useful for this. (where this=providing "some form of emotional content", expressing "the varying degrees of danger" etc).

       At each move, the algorithm can examine possible moves, and determine:
- balance of power (who's winning)
- range of moves (if only one or two moves are possible then the player is in a tight, controlled situation and music should portray this)
- what move to make next: the music can then shift towards this move. Then, if the real player actually made a different move, the music will swiftly change, nicely indicating the unexpectedness of the move.

       This is still just talking about the overall arrangement of the piece; the actual notes are going to have to come from a library to make it sound decent. Or perhaps from existing song-generating technologies, if they exist (last time I looked, there were only truely ghastly song-generating softwares).
benjamin, Jun 06 2004

       <horrible throwback Tim Rice moment> wasn't this first thought up by Barbara Dickson</horrible throwback Tim Rice moment>.. (see link).
neilp, Jun 06 2004

       Also this means that some bits of music (probably not all that many :) have perfectly acceptable bits of chess games already in them. How handy.
neilp, Jun 06 2004

       That's another way to do it... create a chess-to-music translator that uses rules/algorithms than ensure that the maximum number of existing songs are valid representations of possible chess games.   

       Doing it this way (brute-force approach with 1000's of midi files on hand) may actually lead to chess-to-music translation where the resulting music sounds half-bearable.. without resorting to requiring a built-in library of move/state note patterns.
benjamin, Jun 06 2004

       ok why dont you have each side have its own musical insterment? It would make it so that you could easily tell the difference between the two sides. You could chose insterment that go well together. Then you could assign each piece a range of range of two or three notes to some of the more simple pieces like pawns and be able to make a simple riff. You could change the riff depending on weather it was in trouble or if it was in a good position. The more complacated pieces would have a larger set of notes so that it could convay a larger set of positions (both good positions and bad) Each player could devolop there own chops for each piece and chose there own insterment. When you take a piece it could play its dieing melody while your piece could play the wining riff. but if one of your pieces is in trouble then it could would play a scared riff.   

       My point is that you could beter convay the game of chess if you were to give each piece its own set of notesand combine have a style of riff for each diffent emothion that that piece would have if it was alive
youngtimer, Jun 06 2004

       I seem to be the only person reading // a method of converting chess notation to music// as not requiring direct translation from chess notation to staves and semi-quavers. I'm going to continue to plough my direct translation furrow:   

       Being that it's unlikely that each piece (of music) will be created on the fly, why not use each peice as a different musical sound (I'm resisting the temptation to use the word "instrument" as I envisioned (if that's the right word) the produced music as being largely percussive)?   

       Total each piece's movements of the the course of the match to generate a sound (e.g white pawns hi-hat, black bishops bass, knights as wibbling acid line) and slap all that on a beat the tempo of which determined by the average time each player took to move. Entry of each sound/instrument in the piece (of music) is determined by the corresponding chesspieces first activity in the game. Yeah, I can definitely see this as producing techno builder with a fairly cacophonous breakdown.
calum, Jun 06 2004

       [zen_tom] has a good point I think. (Although I don't like the idea of snapshots, you should be able to listen to the whole game.)   

       What would be ideal would be a general musical background which suits the state of the game, (eg, the queens gambit theme, a king and queen endgame theme etc.) with specific notes or what have you to tell a skilled listener exactly what is being moved.
RobertKidney, Jun 06 2004

       if you combine mine and roberts ideas that would be best
youngtimer, Jun 06 2004

       noway, mann--you need more than two insterments.
yabba do yabba dabba, Jun 07 2004

       This idea makes me want to go back and read G-E-B again...
justaguy, Jun 07 2004

       (resists posting Traffic to Music Translator, a more practical version of this designed to help a driver determine what lane to be in)
Worldgineer, Jun 07 2004

       To avoid cacophony, it would perhaps be a useful approach to find algorithms translating known melodies into valid chess games.   

       Some people see sounds, smell colors (or see emotions), I heard they sometimes can use that as a tool in academic endeavors.
fuqnbastard, Jun 07 2004

       While looking for chess quotes for Rayford's Quote Chess idea (qv), I came across this nugget, from Reuben Fine:   

       “Combinations have always been the most intriguing aspect of Chess. The masters look for them, the public applauds them, the critics praise them. It is because combinations are possible that Chess is more than a lifeless mathematical exercise. They are the poetry of the game; they are to Chess what melody is to music. They represent the triumph of mind over matter.”   

       So perhaps, then, the combinations of moves should be the key element in the creation of the music. Obv, this would eliminate on-the-fly music creation, though.
calum, Sep 20 2005

       A friend and I did this in and around grad school. There were some good results. The sample in the link I provide (possibly below) is based on a game we played. We also did Kasparov v. Deep Blue (game 6, I think) and it's my favorite. If I figure out how to post MP3s I'll put it up. Anyway, there turned out to be little interest in it commercially, though a DJ in South Korea used our program to turn some other things into music. If anyone wants a game converted (or "bronzed" as we say) let me know.
supermanhuge, Aug 23 2006


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