Tag Archives: Interval Signals

The history of Deutsche Welle’s interval signal and signature tune

(Source: Deutsche Welle via Mike Hansgen)

Beethoven on the air: the DW signature tune

When Deutsche Welle went on the air 65 years ago, the broadcaster opted for a melody from “Fidelio” for its signature tune. Ludwig van Beethoven’s opera is about an act of liberation.

A political prisoner is starved and nearly tortured to death because the prison’s military governor knows that the prisoner could incriminate him. The incarcerated man’s wife masquerades as a young man and, thus camoflaged, makes her way into the dungeon. When the governor attempts to stab the prisoner, the woman jumps between them and pulls out a pistol. At that very moment, trumpets sound out and the Minister, a higher authority, enters the scene. A friend of the prisoner, he recognizes what has been going on and sets the political prisoners free.

At this happy ending of the opera “Fidelio” by Ludwig van Beethoven, Minister Fernando sings the words “Es sucht der Bruder seine Brüder” (The brother seeks his brothers), and continues: “Und kann er helfen, hilft er gern” (And if he can help, he does so gladly.)

The melody to the words is anything but catchy; it is nearly ungainly in fact. Nonetheless, it was chosen as the signature tune when Germany’s international broadcaster began its shortwave radio transmissions on May 3, 1953.

The symbolism in the words

The choice not only had to do with the musical motif, but was also based on the symbolism in the words. Only eight years after World War II’s end, building new friendships and international relationships was no easy task for the new Federal Republic of Germany.

One sought to proceed in a “brotherly” manner with listeners and partners abroad through friendly exchange. Trust was to be built in a fair and impartial sharing of information.

For many years, the melody, played on a celesta keyboard, penetrated the constant ebb and flow of interference noise on the shortwave radio spectrum. It thus made its way to the speakers of shortwave radio sets around the world – often in endless repetitions leading up to the news at the top of the hour.

Click here to download a clip of the DW interval signal recorded on February 22,1982 at 1400 UTC. (Source: IntervalSignal Database)

The broadcaster then had its headquarters in Cologne, and the Beethovenfest classical music festival took place only sporadically in Bonn, 30 kilometers upstream the Rhine.

The move from Cologne to Bonn, and the media partnership with the re-established and much bigger music festival, had to wait until the new millennium. Then it seemed only fitting that Deutsche Welle should once again associate itself with Beethoven.[…]

Continue reading and listen to a number of “Fidelio” variations at Deutsche Welle.

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Interval Signals + Radio Astronomy = Bliss

Yesterday, I spent part of the better part of the day at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI): a place that has begun to feel like a home away from home.

As you might imagine, radio astronomy observatories are places with very low levels of radio frequency interference. Since I had a few hours on the PARI campus to play radio, I used it as an opportunity to evaluate the CCRadio-EP Pro‘s AM/mediumwave performance.

For comparison purposes, I packed the CCRadio-EP Pro, Tecsun PL-660 and (for kicks) my Sony ICF-5500W.

Now isn’t the ICF-5500W a handsome boy?

I’ll post some of the CCRadio-EP Pro videos in my final review.

Though it was immense fun tuning through the AM broadcast band right through the gray line,  being an SWL, I eventually turned to the shortwaves. The only shortwave radio I had on hand was the amazing little Tecsun PL-660. Conditions weren’t as bad as I had expected–propagation was decent and did I mention no noise?

After tuning around a bit, I happened upon one of my favorite interval signals: that of the Voice of Turkey.

Everything around me–all that was on my mind–simply took a backseat to the simple pleasure of listening to an interval signal on a cool, foggy spring evening surrounded by the beauty of PARI’s campus and those giant radio telescopes.

Though the feeling was nearly impossible to capture, I did make a recording to share with SWLing Post friends and readers from around the world. I hope you enjoy:

Click here to watch on YouTube.

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Al shares vintage RAE theme

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Al Quaglieri, who writes:

In the ’60s and ’70s, RAE had a really evocative theme song that opened and closed their broadcasts. For years I searched for a copy of this, even going as far as writing the station about ten years ago. They graciously obliged, sending me a recording of the LATER theme, not the one I wanted. Well, here it finally is. RAE used an edited-down version.

My clip begins with a vintage RAE open and close, and then the song! It’s an obscure composition by Argentine composer Waldo de los Rios, entitled “Sol Alegre,” from a 1957 Columbia album called “Kiss of Fire.” Hope it brings back some memories!

Click here to listen at Clyp.it.

Thanks for this stroll down Memory Lane, Al!

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Interval Signal Ringtones for Android

This morning, while browsing for an Android app, I noticed that SWLing Post contributor, Stephen Cooper, has published a simple app for adding interval signal ringtones to your Android device.

Interval Signal Ringtones appears to have a very simple interface and over 40 interval signals included. The price is very modest at $1.98.

Click here to view in the Google Play store.

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David enjoys hammock mobile SWLing with his Icom IC-92AD

Icom-ID-92AD-Shortwave

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Korchin (K2WNW), for sharing this short video demonstrating the shortwave receive capabilities of the Icom IC-92AD handheld transceiver:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Frankly, I’m quite amazed at the clarity and fidelity of the Voice of Turkey interval signal on this handheld. Goes to show that with a proper antenna, and decent conditions, wide-band handhelds can certainly be used for shortwave radio listening! It also helps that David is outdoors, away from RFI, and was located on the coast of Long Island, NY.

Post readers: Have you had good fortune SWLing with wide-band handled transceivers? Please comment!

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