Chess, math and Art

Chess, math and Art

Aug 8, 2007, 8:18 PM |

Yes, this is my life. My love, my goals, my energy is represented by that instrument, and some others that may or may not accompany it. My life is devoted to arts, and I have been an artist since I can remember.

Unfortunately I didn't start piano lessons until very late in my life, but in exchange, I keep a lot of brain power that allows me to create, write and compose music for that lovely instrument, which, if hadn't existed, I wouldn't be myself. 

But, why? The question I've always asked to myself... Why? Why can I write and others cannot. Why are others so much better than me? Why do I encounter people with the same love for arts as I but that can't write a single note in a staff sheet? It all comes from ego-centric like thinking, bout I was able to consider the issue and transform it into one single healthy question: How can I improve?

Let's analyze the problem. There is a story that has been told around my whole family all my life. It goes something like this: Every night since I was born, my mother (a good singer) used to sing me a sleepy song. She sang me the very same song night after night after night. Story tells, that when I turned 2 months old I started to sing that song myself. I was able to repeat every note with pitch accuracy and none believed until they heard. Now, how can somebody do something like that? The answer is clear, none of a genius: When you are 2 months old your brain is an empty canvas in which you can draw any mentality you want. Every week, at that age, you build and construct the very foundations upon which you will function all your life. Things you pay attention to, are things for which your brain will function, and things upon which neurological structures will be made. After your early stages, to build new structures on the brain in order to understand new things is much harder, but still possible.

Since I was born, I developed something that could be called "abstract proportionality recognition on (waves and) patterns" because I payed attention to my mother's singing. This hard to remember term means that your brain is able to recognize the mathematical proportions (i.e. this side of a square is 2/3 times the size of my arm) in any physical pattern composed of similar objects, including sound and light waves. This ability which lies on every human but takes something like 10 years of hard training to fully develop is of utter importance if you want to be a musician. Because sound is such an abstract perception, ability to recognize mathematical relationships between waves of sound is very difficult. 

When I was about 18 years old and needed a standard upon which I would compose, I started to investigate the possible fact that human beings can translate proportionality into feelings and thoughts. I liked this approach since it rendered us all equal and of equal subconscious capabilities. This theory states that in every piece of art, objects that compose it are arranged in such a way that the brain can decode them by making millions of calculations about the proportions and relationships that exist among the system's components. This means in music that the way sound waves are organized, they go directly to your brain hypothalamus which will recognize patterns, and all the relationships between them, all the way among the different waves/values and they will all produce a certain sensation or feeling that you will soon relate to something past in your life.

Of course not all patterns are "recognizable", meaning that the human brain is mostly a single entity and that the patterns it "expects" to see are certain. If you produce nonsense music, you will hear nonsense, and therefore won't find any recognizable pattern in it, feeling nonsense as well. But, by letting your subconscious mind do the work, you can translate your own sensations into mathematical patterns, which will then in turn be translated into wave sounds, patterns, chords, melodies, harmony, counter point, colors (meaning instruments), and the music will come up by itself, as if it was someone else's music: Our subconscious entity. Such called "inspiration"...

So the answer to my early question is: Some try to compose music. Some just let the music flow through their minds. They subconsciously create the patterns (they say the "feel" the music through their veins), make all the millions of calculations needed to make the Art. I actually compose while asleep (I can remember it like a dream) and I work with my teacher pretty much as if he were a psychologist: He doesn't teach myself to compose, he rather talks to my subconscious, he passes information right through my awareness into the deepness of my mind. I can then improve. And I've been improving quite a lot lately.

When I went through Josh Waltzkin interactive chess course in Chessmaster 10th edition, I was absolutely astonished to hear the very same concepts I was investigating for music during my whole adult life. He spoke about "feeling chess", "don't think anything weird" he would say in his recordings, "just make the right move. Take a moment. What would you do?"... What did he mean? (I was puzzled!) Well, when he started to compare a Chess game to an instrument play, and Chess tournament pretty much to a piano competition I understood it right away!

To my dazzled eyes, I could actually sense in a chess board the proportions and mathematical relationships that can exist in a work of art. When I realized that harmony is represented in a chess board on every position, and that melody or counter point both come up as moves go by, I was so amazed that I fell in love with this game yet again. Music and Chess are the same thing, they both share their mathematical rules, the same abstracts, the same algorithms belong to each other.

By thinking with my artistic mind each move I became twice as better a player as I was, this, in one month. I could accomplish this because at the same time I was acquiring knowledge of the game, I could pass it through to my subconscious mind and re-use my neurological structures from music to chess, sensing the moves as if they were "music"...

"Do I take hallucinating drugs or something?", you would ask... Well, I don't say I see or hear music when I play a game, but I can actually sense what is right or wrong in a move by applying the very same set of mathematical rules I apply when I compose music, do a painting or admire the beauty, and since I do it subconsciously, it's easier for me.

Of course I need much more data to be feed into such mechanisms in order to play an even fair game. Data, as in arts comes with the years and it piles up as you gain more and more experience... So this is not magical. 

But let's for a moment compare Chopin's first ettude in C mayor to a queen's pawn opening for which there are no black pieces. What is the real challenge? Isn't the challenge just yourself? What does Chopin says in that ettude that have something in common with chess? May be in a latter post? Smile