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They looked across at each other, their eyes glinting in the candlelit gloom of the library.
"Check!" announced Quartermain, his voice only just audible over the eerily discordant sound emanating from the object between them.
"Damn you Quartermain." Dr Moreaux leaned forwards, his brooding
face obscured by thick pipe smoke.
"Why must you insist we play on this infernal thing?"
"It helps me relax, not to mention it having certain...associations."
Dr Moreaux sighed, leaned forwards, and toppled his King. The sound from the board changed subtly, as if a voice had been silenced from a choir. The King rolled, describing a gentle arc on the board before reaching the edge and smashing onto the tiled floor. Pieces of china scattered revealing the strange and intricate mechanism within.
Close inspection showed a short triangular loop of magnetic-ribbon, one side of which was stretched across the base, and driven round by a tiny voltaic-engine, apparently receiving its power directly from the board via the two metallic contacts in the base of the chess-piece. The engine, now divorced from the board, was visibly slowing down to a halt. Moreaux, raised an eyebrow and thought of the strange tingling sensation hed felt earlier on touching the board. It was one of the many things about it he found deeply disturbing.
"Good God Man! What is this trickery?!" Moreaux exclaimed.
"I had hoped not to have to reveal this to anyone," began Quartermain, "but I fear I must offer you some explanation.
"You see, this device is what I call my Reverberating Feline Memorial Magnetophonic Chess-Set. While a piece is on the board, it draws its power from a grid of charged wires, which provide the power to turn the voltaic-engine. The engine drives the ribbon, which has had a regular, but invisible arrangement of magnetised and un-magnetised stripes infused along its surface. A sensitive voltao-magnet hidden beneath each square of the board is stimulated into generating a weak oscillating voltaic current. This current is amplified and transmitted into the motion of a stiffened board of velum hidden within, the oscillation of which produces sound. Allow me to demonstrate."
One by one, Quartermain took the remaining pieces from the board and laid them back into their box. Each time he removed one, the sound from the board became quieter, less discordant. Until, with one piece left, there was only a single, distinct tone, wavering ever-so slightly.
He lifted the bishop from the board and everything was quiet.
"Each piece has its ribbon patterned with different spacings between the magnetised and de-magnetised stripes."
"However, it is not only regularly varying widths and gaps between stripes of magnetism that can be used."
He lifted a knight from a separate velvet-lined box and placed it on the board. A tone, of an altogether different quality and higher pitch, wafted from the machine. Moreaux couldn't believe his ears,
"Yes. In reversing the mechanism, I was able to infuse the pattern of a sound directly into the magnetic ribbon, thus capturing it forever. I was able to entice Smiffles into meowing into the machine using a saucer of milk. It is unfortunate that milk is such a good conductor of voltaic current."
"Yes, I had wondered what had happened to him."
Quatermain, placing the original piece back on the board, blew wistfully into his handkerchief.
"I know. I do miss him so."
He then added a third piece and immediately the two notes and the echo of the deceased cat swelled into a deep melancholic chord.
With a sniff, Quatermain removed the knight, gently returning it to its special box. He continued,
"In addition, since the amplification modules are of different attenuations for each square on the board," he moved a piece,
"it is not only the pattern of stripes on the magnetic ribbon in each piece that defines the pitch and quality of the sound you hear, but also the position."
As Quatermain moved the piece, the quality of the sound and the pitch altered once more. He began setting the pieces up on the board, but this time in a configuration Moreaux had not previously seen, the noise building as he did so like that of an orchestra tuning before a performance. A second later, with a flurry of movement, he began shifting each piece around in a frantic dance, accompanied by an intensifying fountain of sound. Dr Moreaux's jaw dropped as Quartermain built up to a frantic crescendo.
"Oh my, that's...incredible!" Moreaux exclaimed.
Quartermain, breathing heavily, slowed, and taking each piece off between motions, caused the sounds to die away until finally all was silent.
[zen_tom, Oct 21 2004]
Chess to Music Translator
[hippo]'s original idea, of which this is a mere implementation (albeit with additional cat memorial functionality) [zen_tom, Oct 21 2004]
Not quite the same thing at all
[phoenix, Oct 23 2004]
Nice chap really...just a bit...quiet [zen_tom, Oct 23 2004]
||Wow. [+] Very nicely done.
||Thanks [contracts] much appreciated.
||Does this sort of work on the principal of the frequency cut-off on a synthesizer? So that the more chess pieces that there are on the board, the more additional frequencies, or overtones, that are restored into the recording of a cat's meow?
||Sorry if I don't quite understand the idea.
||Given that each piece/position will be tuned to a separate, filtered range of frequencies/signal types, each one would record only a fraction of the whole sound. On playback, individual pieces would sound pretty uninteresting or flat, they would probably not sound like the original voice, meow etc at all. Since each square also effects the quality of the sound, it is only when you put them all back in the same positions as when you made the recording that you will clearly be able to make out the original sound.
The memory is not only stored in the magnetic ribbon, but can only be replayed by placing the pieces in exactly the same positions as they were when the original signal was recorded.
Plus it also functions as a crude, chess-shaped modular synthesiser.
||+. I'm sure this idea could be implemented very interestingly as a picture puzzle. The more puzzle pieces there are correctly in place, the more complete the target waveform becomes.
||fascinating! do you [zen] know of any other applications of this technology?
||also very well written. enjoyable
||The world's first singing chess set. Much more evolved than anything you'd find on the Isle of Dr. Moreau...
||Loved the writing. Not sure that magnetic tape is the way to do it though. If i were to implement such a device, i would use RF-ID tags in each piece and pickup coils in each square. That means that each piece, its presence and position could be identified. Id put the electronic recordings in the board using a digital recording chip such like found in novelty "pen/note taker gadgets" and play back/modulate the sounds following a set of firmware rules according to the position of each piece. This leaves much less space for sound degredation ad doesn't require any moving parts or tape like your method. Plus you could have blood curdling splats as pices are taken or trampling hooves as a knight is moved. Excelent idea though, the writing deservs a bun in its self.
||Popped up on random. Always one of my favorite ideas.
Another modern-tech upgrade: inductive power loop under the board, so the pieces don't have to be lined up with the power grid wires.
With this chess set, games would be remembered not only for the moves and winner, but for the game-generated symphony they create.
"Remember that match between Kasparov and the American?"
"Yeah, sounded fantastic! Pity about the actual result..."
||Um, actually it's Quatermain, not Quartermain.
||I could have done it in twelve words