Tag Archives: Shortwave Art

Cities and Memory: “Remix and reimagine the world of shortwave radio”

I’m absolutely chuffed to announce that the excellent Cities and Memory sound project has partnered with the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive for an all-new take on the soundscape of cities, and YOU are invited to be part of it.

From Cities and Memory:

Open call – remix and reimagine the world of shortwave radio

Shortwave radio is one of the most fascinating sonic worlds – capturing vital moments in world history as well as pirate radio, clandestine stations, secretive number stations and military and spy radio, all of humanity is there to be listened to at the turn of a dial.

We’re delighted to have teamed up with The Shortwave Radio Archive to present 100 incredible recordings from the history of shortwave radio all over the world for artists to remix and reimagine.

Shortwave Transmissions is our latest global project, and we’re calling for sound artists and musicians to get involved by reimagining shortwave radio recordings from across the world.

Here’s how to get involved:

    1. Email us to let us know you’re interested – and we’ll send you the database of recordings to choose from.
    2. Let us know your top two choices, and we’ll allocate one of those sounds to you to work with.
    3. Create your composition – it must contain some elements of the original recording in some form, but otherwise is a completely free composition (music, sound art, radio art, composition, narrative storytelling – everything is valid!).
    4. Submit your composition – the final deadline will be Sunday 14 November.

There are some incredibly rich recordings to work with as source material – here is just a sample selection:

    • Recordings from the mysterious “numbers stations” around the world
    • Coverage of world-changing events such as 9/11, the invasion of Kuwait, Kennedy’s assassination, Tiananmen Square protests, the death of Fidel Castro and many more
    • Rare international recordings from St. Helena, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, the Falkland Islands and Antarctica
    • Recordings covering a huge period of time from 1934 through to the present day
    • Space travel documented, including the Sputnik, Apollo and Challenger missions
    • Recordings of famous voices such as Winston Churchill and King George V
    • Station IDsinterval signals and final broadcasts from radio stations

Compositions will be presented in the Shortwave Transmissions project in late November and to thousands of listeners across the Cities and Memory podcast, and a selection of compositions will be chosen for an accompanying album release

Sound artists and mixers, jump in to the Archive and see what you can unearth from the depths of our audio. We hope you’ll want to part in what we believe will be one of the most intriguing projects we’ve launched; in partnership with Cities and Memory, there’s no doubt it can be.  We look forward to your contributions!

Click here for full details at Cities and Memory.

Spread the radio love

Bruce’s shortwave music is influenced by Holger Czukay

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bruce Atchison, who shares the following in response to our recent post about musician Holger Czukay:

I love Holger Czukay’s music, especially with CAN. I especially love the
song, “Animal Waves.”

I also incorporated shortwave sounds in my own music.

Here are video links to my YouTube page which might interest you.

CHU Canada

Click here to view on YouTube.

A Short Wave to Shortwave

Click here to view on YouTube.

Stop Listening Now

Click here to view on YouTube.

Thanks for sharing your work, Bruce! Very cool! I need to get you in touch with David Goren for inclusion in a future Shortwave Shindig!

Spread the radio love

Short Waves / Long Distance Repository

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Goren, who shares the following (via Facebook):

Short Waves / Long Distance Repository

The Short Waves / Long Distance Repository is now online. Comprised of selected works from submissions to the highly competitive open call Short Waves / Long Distance, these 38 works exploring the sonics of the shortwave radio spectrum (2-30 mHz), and the experience of long distance listening. The Repository features the following works:

a lagoon, considered against its archival image, Sally Ann McIntyre (Radio Cegeste)
All the News All the Time, Dafna Naphtali
an electrical discharge, a sea of burning oil slicks, Sally Ann McIntyre (Radio Cegeste)
Argent Discovery, Jed Miner
CODEX: Post-Human Speech Sounds, Tom Miller (a.k.a. Comrade Squelch)
Caller, Ed Osborn
Chasing Waterfalls, Sam Rowell
Crimean Snow, John Roach
Elegy for RCI, Lee Rosevere
Fringe Area, William Basinski
Fuzz, Ricardo Paraíso Silvestre
Ghostwave, Jacques Foschia
Hellschreiber, Acoustic Mirror
I listened to the buzzer for hours and nothing happened (edit), D.N.P vs Mutate
Körper, Antonio D’Amato
L’abolition de la Croix, Meira Asher
Let’s Absorb The Waves As We Hold On For Dear Life, Nicholas Knouf
Michael Sedore, ND2Q, Dominique Ferraton
Modulation I, Javier Suarez Quiros
Ondes Simultanee et Perturber, Patrick Harrop
Oracle, Edward Ruchalski
Orbital Lullaby, Craig Dongoski
Over the Horizon, Pietro Bonanno
öö and ää, Evangelos Makropoulos, Gosha Hniu, Victor Math, and Horace Prawn
Short Waves, So Beast
Shortwave Radio, South Africa, IV, Gregory Kramer
Shortwaves trip, Paolo Pastorino
Spectres of Shortwave: Falling Towers (excerpt), Amanda Dawn Christie
St Columb Major – transmission received, Mark Vernon
Staubrauschen (Dusty Noise / Media Dirt), Timo Kahlen
Strange Sonars, Linda Dusman & Alan Wonneberger
Stratocode from nowhere, Flaub
The Perfect Storm, Stephen Bradley
Three Steppes Forward Two Steppes Back, Jeff Gburek
through the shortwave, part one, Spasmodular sounds from Steve’s shortwave
TransSonic Awakenings in D, Douglas Hedwig

Click here to view the Short Waves / Long Distance Repository.

Spread the radio love

Növö – The Shortwaves

Novo - The Shortwaves

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Fahey, who writes:

A few weeks ago this amazing album was released which is totally jammed packed full of shortwave weirdness wrapped into a synth concept work.

[…]Here is some info about the album…

Növö returns with 5th album: ‘The Shortwaves’ – recommended to Metroland, Kraftwerk, Duet Emmo and The Normal fans – listen to first tracks

This is so fantastic, full of numbers stations including the very weird Asian ones, interval signal inspired tunes, data bursts and general shortwave radio weirdness.

Plenty of deep mixed samples of Radio Peking, Moscow, NHK, VOA etc.

Hopefully you can listen to it on Spotify, Apple Music or somewhere though any progressive DXer won’t be disappointed if they chose to purchase the album.


Mark actually sent this tip several weeks ago–immediately after the album release. I had problems, at first, downloading the album (probably because I was outside of the US at the time). I finally did download it, though, and I agree with Mark: it’s well-worth a listen. I’ve added it to my music collection.

Növö may not appeal to everyone, but if you’re a fan of electronic music with heavy use of samples and an “industrial” flavor, you’ll love The Shortwaves.

Here’s a video promo I discovered on YouTube:

Thanks, Mark, for the tip!

Spread the radio love

David Goren’s numbers station installation audio

DG-Performance-ShortwaveTwo months ago, I posted that David Goren, talented radio producer and shortwave radio artist, created a Numbers Station installation in the Secret Wars exhibition at the Proteus Gowanus gallery in Brooklyn, NY.

David has recently published the audio that accompanies his installation.

Take note that this is not a radio documentary–rather, it’s an expansion of his original piece, and part of his sound installation at Proteus Gowanus.  Enjoy:

Spread the radio love

Shortwave and the Art of Music: An interview with musician James Davies

After posting the article about Elliott Sharp last Sunday, I received an email which drew my attention to a shortwave radio-inspired series of musical works entitled Music for DXing, by Spunkle, now an album on the label First Fold Records.  Musician James Davies describes his work thus:

Music For DXing is a suite of sixteen songs rooted in the hobby of listening to the radio.  Originally released amongst friends and fans in 2003, Music for DXing mixes the sounds of shortwave with primeval electronica in a drumless, bassless, trebleless midrange landscape of anticipation.

I’ve listened to Music For DXing on the label’s website–it’s a form of musical minimalism and experimentalism, layering analog and synth sounds into an atmospheric whole, full of sonic texture that incorporates and celebrates radio’s unique sound characteristics.

Davies describes the radio medium:

[I]t’s impossible to really hear “nothing” on the radio, particularly on the shortwave frequencies; there’s always something there, even if it’s noise. That in itself is part of DXing––sifting through the noise for something that you want to hear, and you start to recognise different bits of noise and so on. What a DXer ends up looking for is often very subtle––like when a station is about to come on air, they’re often just broadcasting silence. So the transmitter is on, but they aren’t playing anything. If you listen, there’s a certain quality to the silence––it’s really hard to describe, but it’s like fishing, or birdwatching, and knowing there’s a change in the atmosphere that means something interesting is out there––and, well, that’s just describing some of the basic sounds of nothingness!

Then there is the aesthetic of the broadcast aspect of shortwave. For example, when I was younger a lot of the broadcast stations had “interval signals” which they’d play before a transmission to let you know you had tuned in correctly. These would be a little melody that they’d repeat, and they’d sometimes have speech announcing the station as well. Most DXers would know about these, and I bet, like me, they loved them in and of themselves. Things like the Radio Sweden song which was played on something like a vibraphone with loads of reverb. It used to sound fantastic floating out there on HF. It would go round and round with the voice announcing in different languages, and then when the station came on air they’d play it again with a little tooty band. I loved all of that. Different stations have a different sonic fingerprint.

If you, like this artist, love the audio characteristics of shortwave radio, you’ll appreciate “Music For DXing.”

After listening to “Music for DXing,” I was intrigued, and had a few more questions for Davies; he was kind enough to provide the following interview.

SWLing Post: What do you tell people when they ask, “What kind of music do you create?”

Davies: When I was working as “Spunkle” (the project stopped around 2004, just after I finished “Music For DXing”), I made electronic music. That is to say, sounds manipulated electronically by tapes, synthesizers, sampling and computers. I started playing with tapes about 30 years ago (when I got my first radio-cassette recorder) so I’ve been doing it for a long time!

SWLing Post: Any artists or musicians inspire you over the years? Any
other influences?

Davies: Absolutely loads––I love all sorts of music, art, films, books, etc. But I would specifically say for this project, that I was influenced by techniques as much as specific musicians. So, like a lot of people, I really love The Beatles, but in particular I love their experimental, pioneering methods of working. Whatever was new at the time, they were able to try it. In the same way I was very influenced by electronic pop of the 80s like Scritti Politti, OMD, The Art Of Noise, Depeche Mode––not just the songs, but how they were making them with new technology, as well. When I was at school we were shown a documentary about musique concrete which was very influential on me as an 11 year old––people making tape loops of road drills, and so on! I also really like artists that defy description, too, like Jandek.

SWLing Post: What shortwave radio(s) do you own/use today?

The Sony Sony ICF-SW07 (photo: Universal Radio)

Davies: I have two Sony radios. An ICF-SW7600GR upstairs in my work room, and an ICF-SW07 downstairs in the kitchen. I have posted some videos of my listening to my YouTube channel if anyone is curious as to what they are like.

They are both excellent, excellent radios, and I like to take the little SW07 with me when I travel.

SWLing Post:  When you listen to/tune in the radio, what are you in search of?  Why?

Davies: Variety, surprise, information and culture. Culture is very important––by that I mean the culture of a nation, like an official broadcast from a different country, or the culture of a hobby like Ham operators. Or it can even be the culture of a technology like data transmissions. I like to hear things that I can’t hear at other times during the day. When I started listening as a boy I liked it that I was able to go around the world via my radio, and discover things about far away countries.

I like the variety of the radio, both in the programmes and the chance elements like propagation conditions, and even interference, too. I love discovering new music and also listening to documentaries and news. I also like DJs that you come to feel are friends…[R]adio has the power to be so friendly and human; I think that’s a really important aspect.

I also like the surprise, in particular with DXing, of finding new stuff. It’s sad that a lot of the European stations of my youth have gone now, but it has made, for me at least, finding transmissions from the Far East and Asia much easier now (although the internet has also assisted that enormously with the look-up tables and services you can check frequencies against).

In conclusion, Davies adds:

I just love the idea of radio, and transmitting and receiving sound through the airwaves. The radio has a vocabulary all of its own––the formatting of different programmes, the use of music in speech shows and the use of speech in music shows. Even the physical sound of switching on your radio and it flooding with electricity and coming to life is a part of the experience.  I love those formal qualities of life and I like playing with them in my own art.

I think many SWLers would avidly agree:  radio does transcend mere communication to become an art form.  We’re grateful that musicians like Davies recognize this and take it to the next level. Thanks to James Davies for the fascinating interview, as well as for the fascinating music. You can listen to his album, purchase it, and read another, more in-depth interview with him at First Fold Records.

Listen to Spunkle Music For DXing below, or at First Fold Records. Purchase a copy here.

Spread the radio love

For Elliott Sharp, musical experimentation was inspired by shortwave radio

In the past, we’ve noted several artists and musicians who were inspired by the audible characteristics and sonic texture of shortwave radio (check out the Besnard Lakes and Radius, for example).

Guitarist, Elliot Sharp, was inspired not only by the sonic qualities of shortwave radio, but also the mechanical qualities:

(Source: the Star Tribune)

Elliott Sharp does not believe in categories or conventions. It’s not that he’s trying to be rebellious. He’s just very curious — the kind of tinkerer who built a short-wave radio as a kid — and smart enough not to be deterred by artificial distinctions.

…[H]e’s worked with a ridiculous array of musicians, ranging from such rockers as Sonic Youth and singer Debbie Harry, to jazz greats such as Jack DeJohnette, to the legendary Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and classical music’s groundbreaking Kronos Quartet.

[…]Then there is the scientific side of Sharp’s brain. He grew up in Cleveland, where his father designed speakers and microphones. Already grounded in music from studying classical piano at age 6, he built a short-wave receiver at 11 and began experimenting with layers of noise.

Later he would link music and mathematics. Some compositions, he said, use algorithmic approaches “derived from the workings of recombinant RNA and the dynamics of bird flocking and wolf packs.”

He was also among the first musicians to deploy computers. The last of his three solo sets at the Walker will include “additional electronics and more free-ranging improvisation,” he said.

For more on Elliot Sharp, check out the full Star Tribune article quoted above, or visit Sharp’s website.

Spread the radio love